Hurricane Irene is being blamed for at least 33 deaths in 10 eastern US states, as many parts of the northeast suffered disastrous flooding and reconnaissance teams scoured Massachusetts to assess the devastation, emergency officials said on Monday.
The toll includes six fatalities each in New York state and North Carolina, five in Pennsylvania, four each in New Jersey and Virginia, two each in Connecticut, Florida and Vermont, and one each in Maryland and Massachusetts.
Vermont struggled with its worst flooding in 80 years while New York City went back to work on Monday despite a partially crippled mass transit system and power outages that left 100,000 customers in the metropolitan area without electricity.
Overall some 5.5 million homes and business were still without power from North Carolina to Maine, and utilities said it could take days to restore electricity in more accessible areas, or up to weeks in the hardest-hit regions.
“It’s going to take time to recover from a storm of this magnitude,” President Barack Obama told reporters. “The effects are still being felt across much of the country.”
Most of the fatalities were caused by falling trees, road accidents, or people being swept away by floodwater as Irene, now downgraded to a post-tropical cyclone over Canada, wreaked havoc up the eastern seaboard. The youngest fatalities were an 11-year-old boy killed by a falling tree in his apartment on the Virginia coast and a 15-year-old girl who died in a car accident in North Carolina. Six deaths were being blamed on Irene in New York state, including a man who was electrocuted as he tried to save a child who had gone into a flooded street with downed wires.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 30th, 2011.