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As the weaker than expected storm finishes its visit to the eastern coast of the United States, authorities still call Irene a serious threat.
The tropical storm Irene moved slowly over the East Coast, bringing steady wind, rain, and flooding. The Associated Press reported that Irene hit Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Vermont, Virginia and Washington D.C.
According to a Sunday article by the San Francisco Chronicle, 4 million homes and business were without power across the eastern United States on Sunday. Irene caused an estimated $3 billion in damages, a number that is likely to grow in the coming week.
Regardless of damage costs and power outages, many reports were quick to characterize Irene as “weaker than expected.”
“People are saying they’ve dodged a bullet … [but] people have lost lives. I don’t think you can say we dodged a bullet,” said Craig Fugate, Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator, on the effects of Irene. The Los Angeles Times reported Monday of an estimated 35 deaths in the wake of the storm.
Experts from the National Weather Service announced on August 20 that Irene formed in the Atlantic.
On August 22, Irene’s momentum increased. The storm was declared a category 2 hurricane as it cut power to more than a million residents in Puerto Rico. Irene became a category 3 storm as it traveled toward the East Coast of the United States.
By the time the storm hit the North Carolina on Friday afternoon, it was considered a category 1. Hurricane Irene was later downgraded to a tropical storm.
Even though Irene showed weakening, many state authorities took careful precautions to evacuate residents from dangerous areas.
The Wisconsin State Journal reported that New York City Mayor, Michael Bloomberg, ordered the mandatory evacuation of 370,000 residents in low-lying neighborhoods. “I think we made exactly the right call,” said Bloomberg on Sunday. The Journal also reported that no New York mayor had ever called for such a broad evacuation order in history.
President Obama expressed the dangers of Irene to the country. “While the storm has weakened as it moves north, it remains a dangerous storm that continues to produce heavy rain,” Obama said at the White House. “Many Americans are still at serious risk of power outages and flooding, which could get worse in the coming days as rivers swell past their banks.”
According to a statement put forth by the U.S. Department report, power was restored to 1.57 million households Monday. New York, Connecticut and New Jersey have the most residents still without electricity.
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