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She has already gained a reputation as the greatest menace since 2008 and as she hits the city of New York, she manages to live up to expectations: The streets were empty Sunday morning as Hurricane Irene prepared to drive rain and high speed winds through America’s most populous city.
Fox News reported that there were no hurricane-force winds over land anymore but that the storm is still considered “a low-end hurricane, high-end tropical storm.” Shoppers have emptied local food and hardware stores for supplies in preparation, says Reuters.
Tom Corbert, governor of Pennsylvania warned that the storm isn’t just a 24-hour event and that precaution had to be made even after the storm has passed. The governor of North Carolina, Beverly Perdue told reporters that Irene inflicted significant damages along her state’s coast and that some areas were still unreachable. Mayor Michael Nutter of Philadelphia declared a state of emergency, which is the first time since 1986. “We are trying to save lives and don’t have time for silliness,” he said.
In New York, the authorities led by Mayor Michael Bloomberg took on the task of shutting down the busy city and attempt some damage control. Residents were urged to stay indoors to avoid flying debris, flooding or the risk of electrocution by downed power lines, according to Reuter’s report. Broadway shows were cancelled, sporting events postponed, shops closed and the major airports in the New York area — LaGuardia, Kennedy and Newark — made sure the last arriving flights were done by noon on Saturday. Fox News said that 9,000 flight were canceled, including 3,000 on Saturday. In addition, airline companies estimate that the number of affected passengers could easily be millions because so many flight connections are made on the East Coast.
Nine people have lost their lives so far as a result of Irene, including two children. In Virginia, an 11-year-old boy was killed when a tree crashed through his roof and in North Carolina, a child died in a car crash as a result of a failing traffic light. Four other people have been killed by falling trees or tree limbs while a surfer and a beachgoer were killed by heavy waves in Florida.
President Obama cut his vacation short at Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts in order to follow the preparations for the hurricane closely from the White House.