In Irene’s Wake, Flooding and Power Outages Plague East Coast

BY News Desk  August 29, 2011 at 8:24 AM EDT

Trains remain idle at the Trenton Transit Center due to water on the tracks from Hurricane Irene August 29, 2011 in Trenton, New Jersey. Photo by William Thomas Cain/Getty Images.

2 p.m. ET | FEMA administrator Craig Fugate said Monday that responders are “moving into recovery phases, but we are still very concerned about the flooding.” Officials have warned that the danger from rising rivers and washed out roads has not passed.

Airports in New York City were open by Monday morning, as well as in Boston and several smaller cities in New England. Though the New York subway was up and running, New Jersey Transit trains were at a standstill due to flood cleanup.

Approximately 8,500 people from areas most affected by the storm are housed in Red Cross shelters.

A family rides towards a tree brought down by winds from Hurricane Irene in Manasquan, N.J. Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images.

Despite packing a less-than-expected punch across the East Coast, Hurricane Irene — downgraded Sunday to a tropical storm — left billions of dollars in damage and millions of people without power from the Carolinas to Maine. Crews worked Monday to clear downed trees and power lines and remove debris from roadways. At least 24 deaths were reported.

After airports were shuttered this weekend and approximately 9,000 flights were canceled, many travelers faced a backlog as service resumes. New York City’s subway reopened Monday morning after halting service midday Saturday.

On Sunday evening, President Obama, flanked by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and FEMA administrator Craig Fugate, warned, “[T]his is not over,” pointing to ongoing flooding-related risks and power outages.

Widespread evacuation orders had been in effect along the coastling, but according to the Associated Press:

Many of the worst effects arose from rains that fell inland, not the highly anticipated storm surge along the coasts. Residents of Pennsylvania and New Jersey nervously watched waters rise as hours’ worth of rain funneled into rivers and creeks. Normally narrow ribbons of water turned into raging torrents in Vermont and upstate New York late Sunday, tumbling with tree limbs, cars and parts of bridges.

Vermont reported the worst flooding in 80 years, and one woman drowned in a rising river. At least four covered bridges were washed away. In North Carolina, rains of up to 15 inches were reported and several roads were washed away. The state’s barrier islands were evacuated.

In New York City, where 370,000 people had been given evacuation orders in low-lying areas, residents escaped the worst of Irene, which became a tropical storm shortly before making landfall over New York.

Washington, D.C., had several hundred thousands residents without power and closed some schools Monday, but also sustained relatively minor damage in the storm.