Sunday, 28 August 2011

Irene batters New York, raising fears of flooding

Seawater surged into flood-prone areas of New York on Sunday as Tropical Storm Irene hit the city, downgraded from a hurricane but still bringing fierce winds and rain.

Some 370,000 people were ordered to evacuate and streets are eerily quiet, a BBC correspondent says.

At least 11 deaths have been linked the powerful storm.

Irene has already destroyed buildings in North Carolina and Virginia, and left millions without power.

The storm has weakened from a category-three hurricane when it swept through the Caribbean last week to a tropical storm, but it has still been destructive and disruptive.

The BBC's Laura Trevelyan, in New York's Battery Park, says the city felt the full force of the storm, whose arrival coincided with a high tide.

The centre of the hurricane moved over New York City at about 09:00 (13:00 GMT), the National Hurricane Center said.

Some 370,000 people living in low-lying areas of New York City had been told to leave, and the city's public transport system has been closed.

Irene has already hit North Carolina and Virginia
Our correspondent said a feared storm surge affecting New York's Hudson River, was about five feet high and there are concerns that floodwaters may affect underground New York - its subway system and the network of cables that power the city.

Ocean water has streamed into streets in New York's Queens district, while streets in Brooklyn's Coney Island were also under water. In Manhattan, water from New York Harbour lapped onto pavements in Battery Park, and about 1ft of water washed over the wall of the marina in front of the New York Mercantile Exchange in lower Manhattan.

On Wall Street, sandbags were placed around subway grates, while construction work has been halted across the city.

Hours earlier the then Hurricane Irene came ashore in New Jersey, about 100 miles to the south, where state Governor Chris Christie said he expected the cost of repairing damage to be "in the billions of dollars, if not in the tens of billions of dollars".

It is expeted to hit Canada on Sunday night.
Irene has also dumped more than 1ft (30cm) of rain on North Carolina and Virginia, and there were reports of storm surges of nearly 10ft.

The north-eastern seaboard is the most densely populated corridor in the US. More than 65 million people live in major cities from Washington DC in the south to Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York and Boston further north.


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