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irene lashed New York City

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irene lashed New York City

Post  miracle on Sun Aug 28, 2011 9:25 pm

New York (CNN) -- River waters began flooding into Manhattan's streets as Irene lashed New York City with wind gusts and torrential rains Sunday morning. Even as Irene weakened to a tropical storm, authorities warned that its impact was not waning. "Do not leave your homes. ... It is still not safe," New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said Sunday morning. "We've got flooding everywhere and flash flooding in all different parts of the state." Officials said the storm had knocked out power to more than 3 million people and was responsible for at least 11 in four states as it pummeled some of the biggest cities in the Northeast. In lower Manhattan, the Hudson River overflowed, sending massive amounts of water spilling over jogging paths and pouring into at least one nearby apartment building. Water also lapped over the banks of New York City's East River early Sunday but later receded. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey closed the north tube of the Holland Tunnel due to flooding, and CNN affiliate WCBS reported serious flooding in Brooklyn. But in New York City, the flooding's greatest impact may be far from view, former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff told CNN. "The challenge of New York is that so much of the electricity and other infrastructure is below the surface," he said. That means flooding could bring life in the city to a standstill even after waters recede, he said. The threat of flooding extended beyond New York City. Outside Philadelphia, waters had already climbed to street-sign levels in Darby, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter said, sending "couches, furniture, all kinds of stuff floating down the street." Waves pounded the shoreline in Long Beach, New York, as water poured underneath the boardwalk and into the city's downtown area. By 9 a.m. ET Sunday, Irene had weakened to a tropical storm with maximum sustained winds of 65 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center. The storm slammed into Little Egg Inlet, New Jersey, about 5:30 the hurricane center said. In New York, streets in "the city that never sleeps" looked barren and desolate as residents braced for the full brunt of Irene. Shelves upon empty shelves greeted last-minute shoppers at stores. Caution tape barricaded the turnstiles at subway stops. Allysia Matthews and her husband holed up in their Manhattan apartment Sunday morning. "The streets in general tend to start flooding" during rainfall, Matthews said. "We've been staying at home because there's really no way to get around." Earlier Sunday, the hurricane hit Ocean City, Maryland, leaving some sections of the city without power. Officials stopped sending vehicles to respond to 911 calls after winds topped 50 mph, said Bob Rhode of the city's office of emergency management. While Irene dumped 12 inches of rain by early Sunday morning, there was no major flooding. maximum storm surge coincided with low tide, preventing the flooding that had been feared. Timing "made a significant difference," Mayor Rick Meehan said in a news conference Sunday morning. The evacuated city was reopened Sunday morning to property owners, business owners, tenants and employees, the mayor said, and would reopen to the general public at noon. "It was a long night last night, but I can tell you, we dodged a missile here at Ocean City," Meehan said. An early morning tour of the area showed damage to the facade of one building, and sand covered part of the boardwalk and a large parking lot. Powerful gusts were so strong in some states that pedestrians struggled to stay upright. Storm surges along the East Coast turned at least one beach into an extension of the ocean. A nuclear power reactor in Calvert Cliffs, Maryland, automatically went offline late Saturday after a piece of aluminum siding from a building struck a transformer amid strong winds. "The facility is safe; there is no impact to employees or our neighbors," said Mark Sullivan, spokesman for the Constellation Energy Nuclear Group. "There is no threat." In New Jersey, ferocious winds blew tree branches horizontally. But George Nikolis of Jersey City insisted on riding out the storm. "You only see something like this maybe once every 25 years, and I wanted to be here to capture this historic moment," Nikolis said. Officials have blamed at least 11 deaths on Irene. Five people died as a result of the storm in North Carolina, and three were killed in Virginia due to falling trees, emergency officials said. A 55 -year-old male surfer died around noon in New Smyrna Beach, Florida, and a woman in Queenstown, Maryland, died after a tree knocked a chimney through the roof of her home, officials said. Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy said downed wires appear to be to blame for one fatality in his state. Irene made landfall Saturday in North Carolina near Cape Lookout at the southern end of the Outer Banks. It stomped across the state for most of the day. The storm ripped off roofs, toppled trees, induced "massive flooding" near the coast and brought down power lines statewide, according to the state emergency management division. The hurricane unleashed 10 to 14 inches of rain over much of North Carolina and pushed a 4-foot storm surge into the Chesapeake Bay, the National Hurricane Center said. As of midnight Saturday, Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, had endured 31 hours of nonstop rainfall. Reports of tornadoes came from several states, including North Carolina and Virginia -- but a final determination will have to be made by the National Weather Service. Atlantic City shuts down for Rhode Island braces for Irene Gallery: Hurricane Irene sweeps Irene causes tornado in Delaware Hospital evacuations in New York Boat tossed by Hurricane Irene Mayor's door-to-door warning

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