As it happened: Irene hits the US

Key points

  • Irene has roared up the east coast, dumping heavy rain from North Carolina to New York City.
  • New York's transport system is closed down, and the city is mopping up after a morning storm.
  • Along the eastern seaboard, about 3 million people have been left without power.
  • All times GMT (EDT+4; BST-1)

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    Welcome to our live page following Hurricane Irene as it marauds up the east coast of the United States. Stay with us for the latest updates, reports from our correspondents on the (wet) ground and your reaction. Send us your emails, texts and tweets, and we'll publish what we can. Here's the previous live page, which ended at midnight GMT.


    AFP news agency has raised the death toll from the storm so far to seven, including a 55-year-old surfer who couldn't resist the treacherously high surf off the Florida coast.

    0012: Laura Trevelyan BBC News, New York

    The rain-drenched streets of midtown Manhattan are virtually deserted, apart from a few tourists with waterproofs and cameras. Yellow cabs cruise the empty roads, their for-hire lights on, but customers - for once on a Saturday night - are hard to come by.


    The American news magazine Gawker has published an amusing top 10 videos of TV news reporters getting blown away by hurricanes.


    Flood waters on a street in Maryland:

    Flood waters on a street in Maryland on 27 August 2011

    Check out this fabulous gallery of readers' photos sent in to the New York Times. It includes, inevitably, an image of one contributor planking.

    Cieran Murphy in New Jersey

    writes: This is my first hurricane since moving to the United states from East Ham, London. I have just finished securing our home. I am already exhausted, too tired to get stressed - yet still in for a long night as the storm is just hours away.


    New Yorkers in the crosshairs of Irene have shrugged off the potential natural disaster with their habitual sang-froid. There are a number of tweets about hot-tub parties and general indoor get-togethers to ride out the hurricane.


    New York City officials warn that Irene's winds could shatter skyscraper windows, while any storm surge in Lower Manhattan could short-circuit underground electrical cables and pipes, bringing widespread power cuts.

    Governor of Connecticut Dan Malloy

    tweets: The Connecticut National Guard have been deployed around the state and their presence will increase by Monday


    In New York's Times Square, dubbed the world's crossroads, Broadway shows are cancelled, and even Starbucks and McDonald's are shut. Here's a taxi hydroplaning on 42nd Street:

    A taxi speeds by on 42nd Street at Times Square in New York
    Don Meltz in Stockport, New York

    tweets: Current predicted path has eye passing within 40 miles of our house, with possibility it could go right over us. #irene

    Benjamin Richards in New York

    writes: Enjoying a melodramatic holiday visiting friends in Manhattan. Most people seem to be stocking up for the apocalypse. We bought a case of wine and some candles. We're going to bunker down tonight.


    Mayor Corey Booker of Newark, New Jersey, tells CNN that he's been going door to door warning residents to flee the storm.


    This is what Irene did to parts of North Carolina earlier - two men use a boat to navigate a street in the coastal town of Manteo:

    Two men use a boat to explore a street flooded by Hurricane Irene in Manteo, North Carolina on 27 August 2011
    Daniel Balls in Brooklyn, New York

    writes: My girlfriend and I just moved to Clinton Hill, Brooklyn. We've had to settle for candles in lanterns. We now have a mattress on the floor. Surrounding areas evacuated. We live in a loft where one entire wall is windows. Looks like we're going to have to sleep in the small bathroom.


    Death toll so far is at least six or seven: a 55-year-old surfer off Florida; three deaths in North Carolina - a man in Nash County after a tree branch fell on him outside his home; a 15-year-old girl in Goldsboro after the car she was in crashed at a junction where the storm had cut power to traffic lights; another man in North Carolina had a fatal heart attack while boarding up his house; up to three deaths in Virginia - an 11-year-old boy in Newport News when a tree crashed through the roof of a house; a 67-year-old man when a tree fell on a car in Brodnax; there's also reports of a man dying in Chesterfield County after a tree fell on his home.


    Oh, and a 66-year-old man is in a serious condition in hospital after falling from a ladder while trying to board up windows in Queens, New York.


    Not everyone took the official warnings seriously. Two men enjoy the rough surf at the beach in Nags Head, North Carolina:

    Two men enjoy the rough surf at the beach in Nags Head, North Carolina, on 27 August 2011
    Justin Kenney of the NOAA

    tweets: #Irene: Evacuation orders now cover approximately 2.3 million people.

    0226: The BBC's Jonathan Whitney says

    I have just landed at Dulles airport in Washington DC. As you would expect, a very bumpy landing, but passengers cheered. The aircrew said this was one of the few planes to land this evening on the east coast. Rain very heavy now.


    At a news conference, NYC Mayor Bloomberg says time for evacuation is over, everyone should now stay indoors.


    Mayor Bloomberg warns that flying debris could smash windows, move to a room with as few windows as possible. He's now recapping in halting Spanish.


    Mayor Bloomberg says the electrical utility may have to shut down parts of the grid if flooding is severe.


    Mayor Bloomberg says it's better to use torches rather than candles because of the fire hazard.


    Mayor Bloomberg: "New York is the greatest city in the world and we will weather this storm."


    Mayor Bloomberg says when New Yorkers wake up they should stay indoors because of the risk of flying debris or falling branches.


    Mayor Bloomberg complains that NYPD officers had to put their lives on the line to rescue two people who thought it was a good time to go kayaking.


    Mayor Bloomberg says there's certain to be a tidal surge at 0800 local time and that's one of the times they're most worried about.


    Not everyone has heeded the NYC mayor's evacuation order. "Oh, forget Bloomberg," Evelyn Burrus, 60, tells AP news agency in Brooklyn. "We ain't going anywhere. Go to some shelter with a bunch of strangers and bedbugs? No way."


    A woman tastes the rain in a nearly deserted Times Square:

    Yuria Celidwen tastes the rain in a nearly deserted Times Square on 27 August 2011

    It's surprising that the Irene death toll hasn't been higher, given that ABC News reports Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell as saying there have been 152 car crashes in the state.

    The BBC's Michelle Fleury in New York says

    the streets in Brooklyn are now mostly empty. I did see a couple carrying a 12-pack of beer, though.

    John Johnson in Baltimore writes

    We were given orders to evacuate by noon today. Ironically, the shelter that was picked for us sits on an area that is prone to flooding as well. So we figured we would be better off at home. We still have electricity.

    0256: BBC Washington deputy bureau chief Ian Sherwood says

    It's very quiet on the streets of Washington DC this evening. A colleague trying to get a cab had to wait for 20 minutes.


    Floodwaters swirl around a pickup truck in New Bern, North Carolina:

    Floodwaters surround a pickup truck in New Bern, NC, Saturdayon 27 August 2011

    Just some of the slogans sprayed on plywood boarding up homes and businesses: "Good night Irene" "Come on Irene" "Irene is a lush" "All welcome, except Irene!" "Don't be mean Irene" and, bizarrely, "More beer".

    Greg Clayman, publisher of The Daily

    tweets: My current plan: fill bathtubs, empty whisky bottles, charge phones, eat cheese.

    Adam Blenford in Washington DC, of BBC

    tweets rain and wind hammering the windows. It feels like I'm trying to sleep inside a car wash.


    A tornado spawned by Irene did this to a house in the town of Lewes, Delaware:

    A tornado as a result of Hurricane Irene touched down in Lewes, Delaware

    The flash-flood warning has been extended to 0230 local time for most of the Washington DC area.


    Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter has made headlines recently for his crusade against flash mobs. Now he's facing flash floods. The city's Schuylkill river is to crest at 15ft, its highest level since 1869, he warns.


    You can keep an eye on Times Square in New York on this webcam. It's almost completely deserted - though earlier we spotted two people trying to re-enact Singin' in the Rain.


    NYC subway, the nation's biggest, is expected to remain closed until at least Monday if they have to pump any floodwater from tunnels:

    The deserted Times Square subway station
    Steve Holland in Washington DC, of Reuters

    tweets: A Virginia official told WJLA TV that 864,000 without power in Virginia and many should expect no power for a week to two weeks.


    Here's the latest satellite image showing the 500-mile-wide spiral of doom monstering the east coast (via @usnoaagov).

    Kenneth Morrison Jr in Philadelphia

    writes: My home is on a slant and the rain is relentless. Our basement is filling up with water as I type this, and it is only the edge of the storm. Sadly the only thing my family and I can do is wait for this to pass.


    In New Jersey and New York, more than 10,000 people are in shelters. Others, though, are riding out the storm in style. AP news agency reports there's no vacancy for the next few days at New York's five-star Ritz Carlton hotel, along Central Park. A double room costs $695 per night.


    A Hasidic Jew cuts a lone figure as he braves the drenched streets of Brooklyn:

    A Hasidic Jew makes his way home as Hurricane Irene starts to hit in Brooklyn, in New York, 27 August 2011
    Simon Edmonds in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware

    writes: The wind and rain is strong. We still have power for the moment. The eye of the hurricane is on track to go right over me. I'm going to try to stay up for it.


    The 55-year-old surfer who died at New Smyrna Beach, Florida, was reportedly a local teacher. And according to the Orlando Sentinel, another 55-year-old man, a tourist from New Jersey, drowned in rough surf while at the same beach with his family.


    Nearly 8,000 customers in New York - mostly in Staten Island, Queens, Brooklyn and Bronx - have no power, the Con Edison utility says. There are also reports of air conditioning and lifts in some hotels shutting down.


    A falling tree has reportedly claimed another life, after hitting a house in Queen Anne's County, Maryland. The last hurricane to hit Maryland was Floyd in 1999. Irene has so far dumped at least 8in of water on the state.


    Forecasters are predicting the strongest gusts around Washington DC over the next couple of hours. Emergency services say there's been a partial roof collapse at a Georgetown University building.

    Linda in Mercer County, New Jersey

    writes: Terrified. Already we've had torrential rain - my yard is flooded. We just got out of the basement sheltering from a tornado that was headed towards us. I heard a thud, which means a tree is down somewhere, but I can't see where. So far this week - earthquake, tornado, flood and now a hurricane. All I'm missing are locusts and frogs.


    Maryland officials have issued a Code Red notification warning a dam at St Mary's Lake near Callaway could burst, causing major floods threatening homes and roads downstream.


    At least 7,500 National Guard troops have been deployed to help states affected by the storm. Here's the Virginia contingent getting ready to do their duty:

    US Army photo shows Virginia National Guard Soldiers preparing for possible duty in response to Hurricane Irene

    A storm shelter in Hoboken, New Jersey, has had to be evacuated because of flooding, says the city's Mayor Dawn Zimmer. Not a good situation when even storm shelters aren't safe.


    CNN has just raised its tally of the Irene death toll to 10 people, from nine.

    Fiona Lee in New York

    tweets: Okay, water coming through the ceiling and windows. At least we're not bored waiting for the hurricane anymore

    Atlantic Watch

    tweets #Hurricane #Irene is expected to remain a hurricane at least 6 more hours, then continue up to NH at a tropical storm.


    Washington DC emergency services say they've handled more than 550 - mostly weather-related - calls in the past 15 hours. They typically handle 450 calls in a 24-hour period.


    Firefighters investigate a gas leak in the flooded town of Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina:

    Firefighters in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina
    Weather Underground

    tweets: Water level continues to rise at Lewes, Delaware... now near 4 feet above expected. #Irene

    Hurricane Central

    tweets Pepco (utility) reporting 164,211 customers without power in the DC metro area.


    An image said to show serious flooding in Atlantic City, New Jersey, has been posted on the photo-hosting website yfrog.


    National Hurricane Center has just issued its latest advisory: Irene's maximum winds are unchanged at 80mph (130km/h).


    The NHC warns that water levels are rising rapidly from Maryland to New York. Irene remains a category one hurricane and is about 15 miles south-south-east of Ocean City, Maryland.


    The NHC further warns Irene will dump up to 20in (50cm) of water in places, bringing life-threatening flash floods and significant uprooting of trees due to rain-softened ground. It also says an extremely dangerous storm surge will raise water levels by as much as 4-8ft (1.2m-2.4m) above ground level in the hurricane-warning area. Its next update is at 0900 GMT.


    Tom Marshall takes a picture of his flooded home in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina:

    Tom Marshall takes a picture of his flooded home as he stands in floodwater in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina

    CNN reports that authorities in Ocean City, Maryland, are no longer sending vehicles to respond to 911 calls because of high winds.


    The Weather Channel tweets: At this hour, the total number of customers experiencing power outages in Hurricane #Irene path has grown to 2,059,940


    The New York Times is tracking Hurricane Irene as it moves across the east coast on this interactive map.


    CNN is reporting that Maryland nuclear reactor automatically went offline on Saturday due to the wind gusts. Officials say the power station is safe.


    The Maryland Emergency Management Agency is tweeting the latest updates for the state as its website struggles to cope with demand.


    People sleep at Penn Station in New York early on Sunday as public transport was closed across the city.

    People sleep at Penn Station in New York, early Sunday

    With all the focus on New York, it's worth pointing out that other major cities - including Philadelphia and Boston - are in the line of the storm too.


    Pennsylvania's governor Tom Corbett is warning people that the state will not necessarily be out of danger once the storm has passed.


    Mr Corbett says: "The rivers may not crest until Tuesday or Wednesday. This isn't just a 24-hour event."

    Jay, Garment district, Manhattan

    I live on 33rd floor so gusts are powerful up here. The rain is coming down consistently hard. I won't be surprised at flooding in the subway system. Low ceiling cloud cover so you can't even see the top of the metlife building.


    Irene has weakened slightly in recent hours to a category-one hurricane. For more detail on how hurricanes work, have a look at our animated guide.

    NBC Philadelphia

    tweets: The Schuylkill Is flooding over its banks along the Kelly Drive. #Irene #Breakingnews


    Reuters news agency is reporting that a nuclear reactor in Maryland automatically shut down late on Saturday as a result of the hurricane.


    A spokesman for the CENG power firm told Reuters the Calvert Cliffs nuclear plant in Lusby is safe.


    tweets: This is the best thing I've seen about the Hurricane! RT and share!!!


    More detail on the nuclear power plant. A CENG spokesman tells Reuters: "It appears as if due to heavy gusts of winds caused by Hurricane Irene, a large piece of aluminium siding dislodged from a building. The siding came in contact with our main transformer. The Unit 1 reactor automatically went off-line."

    Ryan Narcisse, Roselle, New Jersey

    This is my first time witnessing anything like this. The street was blanketed with a sheet of water. It's tense. It's amazing. We have to worry about downed power lines. It could be as much as three weeks that power may be down.


    The NHC has updated its warning saying Irene is now heading along the Jersey shore.

    Agy Wilson, Windham, Maine

    It's a bit past four AM and it's been raining steadily. So far it doesn't feel ominous, but the manifests show it is something different. My hope is we're far enough away. But hurricanes are unpredictable. At least I haven't heard thunder in the last five minutes.


    To get an idea of how big a deal Hurricane Irene is, here's an image of the storm taken from the International Space Station:

    A NASA Goddard Space Flight Center handout photo shows an image of Hurricane Irene around 2030 GMT (4:30 p.m. EDT) August 26, 2011
    Stefanie Raymond

    tweets: Great #Irene sign via @nytimes


    One of the big worries for officials is that resident will simply ignore warnings to leave their homes. Pennsylvania resident Annette Burton, 72, tells AP she plans to stay in her home despite the danger of rising water from a nearby creek.


    But Ms Burton adds that she'll be keeping an eye on the local park, which frequently floods: "I'm not a fool; if it starts coming up from the park, I'm leaving. It's the wind I'm more concerned about than anything."


    Reuters reports that the US Coast Guard has increased its alert level for New York Harbor from "Yankee" to "Zulu" indicating gale force winds are expected.


    The heightened alert level indicates that vessel traffic in the harbour will be severely restricted and delayed until winds die down enough to allow shipping traffic to resume.

    Michael, Queens, NY,

    emails: I am stuck at home from the storm and will be stuck for several days, as the tree in front of my house fell down blocking my driveway.


    Forecasters are saying the hurricane is likely to be downgraded to a tropical storm soon, as the winds dip below 75mph. But the sheer size of the storm and the surge it will cause are still likely to cause major problems.

    Ashley Hammond, Montclair, NJ,

    emails: 4am and Irene is here in NJ! My basement is flooding so a long nite and day still ahead to keep us dry!

    Donna DiGiacomo, Philadelphia,

    emails: We've been caught in the tail-end of storms before but this is just ridiculous. Last week we had the power out several times, then the earthquake and now this. The road outside is just mud. Twelve hours straight of rain.

    Aleksandar Gavric

    tweets: It is 5:40am and I was awakened by the sound of the strong wind. Yes, Irene is obviously coming (Rhode Island)


    Hurricane Irene has now hit land on the New Jersey coast after veering out to sea. The most intense part of the storm is expected in New York City within hours.

    1004: Laura Trevelyan BBC News, New York

    In southern Manhattan, the rain is falling heavily and the wind is picking up. In Battery Park City, where residents have been told to evacuate, sand bags line the rows of shops by the waterfront. High tide is due at 8 am, at approximately the same time as the storm surge. I just walked to the water's edge and the waves are already lapping over the walkway.


    Some people in New Jersey have fled almost 100 miles from their homes to seek shelter. Jimmy Farrell, from Atlantic City, tells AFP news agency he's grateful for the shelter at a New Brunswick gymnasium.


    But Mr Farrell reflects the concerns of many, telling AFP: "We've got to find out what happened when we back home. It's a big worry. My house might not be there."

    1014: Laura Trevelyan BBC News, New York

    The Statue of Liberty has disappeared from view. Emma Lazarus's classic poem about the Statue of Liberty seems as apt as ever as the waters rise: "Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

    Stefan Wilson, Suffolk, New York,

    emails: I work on a summer camp in Long Island. We have had to evacuate the camp of staff and we're holed up in a house generously donated by friends of the camp. It's a pretty surreal experience knowing that you're going to be hit with the full force of mother nature and there's not a lot you can do about it. Being a Brit, I'm not used to this sort of thing.

    Reporter for WNBC-TV Tracie Strahan

    tweets: Wow - watching boats sink in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn. The dock we've been reporting from could be under water soon because of Irene


    The picture agencies are filled with poignant pictures, including this one of homeless Lenard Sanders pushing his cart towards a subway station in Philadelphia as the storm approaches:

    Lenard Sanders, a homeless man, pushes his cart toward a subway station, Sunday, Aug 28, 2011, in Philadelphia

    For more striking images of the hurricane, have a look at our latest gallery.

    Pete Massiello

    tweets: Rain just coming down in buckets. When the wind gusts the trees seem to almost fall over. #Irene


    Putting Irene in perspective, such storms are a once-in-a-generation event in north-eastern United States. The last hurricane to hit the area was Gloria in 1985; before that was Agnes in 1972.


    An update on the statistics of the storm: Eight people have died as a result of accidents caused by the hurricane; the storm is packing winds of 75mph, making it a category-one hurricane; more than two million people have had their power knocked out.


    A reminder to anyone due to fly to New York - all three main airports (JFK, Newark, LaGuardia) are still closed. Experts say more than 8,000 flights are likely to be cancelled.

    US flight attendant Dav

    tweets: Woke up to no power! Thanks a lot, #Irene! Let's hope it comes back, otherwise I'll be drinking ice cream tonight!

    Iain Machell, Malden-on-Hudson,

    emails: I live in a converted 1840 farmhouse on the edge of the Hudson River, so the basement is pumping out water almost non-stop. Locals here are buying up drinking water, batteries & canned food, putting away garden furniture, moving cars away from trees, filling bathtubs with water.


    New York's transport office has its own flickr stream, and has uploaded some eerie images of a completely empty Grand Central Station.


    Away from the transport shutdown, the evacuations and power outages, let it not escape your attention that Broadway shows have shut down as a result of the storm.

    Dan Castner

    tweets: Total rainfall so far in backyard: 7.1". May reach a foot before over. Barometer still dropping rapidly #irene


    Good facts from the Weather Channel's Twitter feed: Apparently Irene is the first hurricane to make landfall in New Jersey since 1903. And New York City has had its wettest month ever, breaking the record of 1882, for those of you with long memories.


    For extended versions of the personal stories we've been giving you a flavour of throughout this commentary, have a look at our piece collating the best eyewitness accounts so far.

    Olawale Akande, Arverne, NY,

    emails: We live in a Zone-A low-lying area by the Rockaway Beach and heeded the call to evacuate the area. We have food, water, flashlights and batteries. It's being raining since yesterday evening, we are expecting the hurricane in a few hours. We are READY.

    Richard Wells in NYC

    tweets: Just took out dog - we were out for 90-120 seconds, both got soaked by rain. Not much wind, but branches on ground #NYC #Irene


    So we've had Broadway shows closing, people fleeing, airports closing. I haven't so far mentioned sport. Practice sessions and preamble events for the US Open tennis tournament have been cancelled. Various baseball games have also been shelved.


    The picture agencies have helpfully sent out archive images of the 1938 New England hurricane. No-one is suggesting Irene will cause a repeat of this:

    A couple sitting amongst the remains of their home at Highland Park, Rhode Island, USA, after a 100-mile-an-hour storm swept the Atlantic coast of North America in 1938
    Hadyn Lassiter, in West Haven, Connecticut,

    emails: We are in it now. Trees falling everywhere. Utility crews are out. Roads are blocked.

    Nancy in Connecticut

    tweets: Getting hammered by #Irene here in CT Lots of trees/wires down will have alot of clean up too do on Mon. Still have power!!!


    It hasn't taken long for surfers in Virginia to get back on their boards:

    A surfer heads out to hit the waves early Sunday, Aug. 28, 2011, after Hurricane Irene moved through Virginia Beach

    Officials from power firms now say about 3 million people have been left without power.

    1208: Barbara Plett BBC News, New York,

    says: The thing that everybody's waiting for is to see whether there is a storm surge, forcing water into the city. At the moment it hasn't done so in a very big way.

    1211: Barbara Plett BBC News, New York,

    says: A lot of evacuation centres seem to be almost empty. A lot of people in those evacuation areas along the coast just decided to stay at home and hunker down.


    Irene is speeding up now, according to the latest update from the US National Hurricane Center. The storm, which on Friday and Saturday was churning along at a sedate pace, is now moving at about 25mph (41km/h).


    At 1200 GMT Irene was a mere 40 miles (60km) south-south-west of New York City, the NHC says. At a speed of 25mph that gives New Yorkers about one more hour until the full force of the storm is upon them.


    US TV networks are showing live pictures from Long Beach, New York as the Atlantic Ocean surges over the boardwalk and into the streets. A combination of high tides and the strong winds of Hurricane Irene are forcing water into the streets.


    And in New York City itself the East River - which bounds one side of Manhattan - is reported to be topping its banks, with water seeping into some of the low-lying areas under mandatory evacuation notices.

    1242: Lawrence Gibbs, in Cardiff,

    is worried about his daughter and her husband: They got married just last week. I can't get through to where they are staying in Times Square - I spoke to her yesterday and she was in tears. They were supposed to be coming home tomorrow but they just don't know now. I'm looking after their two-year-old daughter while they're away.


    CNN is now reporting that the Hudson River - on the west side of Manhattan island - is now also topping its banks. A reporter there is standing knee-deep in water in Battery Park. But she offers a word of optimism - the level of flooding is not expected to be as severe as had been feared, according to officials.


    News from up to coast: authorities in Boston have suspended the city's public transport network as Irene moves north, the Associated Press reports.


    With the focus now clearly on the New York area, it's worth reflecting that back down the US east coast, millions of people are now cleaning up after Irene. The Washington Post reports that about one million homes and businesses in the Washington area alone were affected.


    Here's video evidence of the sort of flooding happening on Long Island, New York: a lifeguard tower being washed away by Irene's waves.


    The US National Hurricane Center downgrades Irene to a tropical storm as it moves over New York City.

    1308: Carissa, Trumbull, Connecticut,

    emails: Heavy rain and lots of wind in Fairfield County. We lost power at about 7am, when a transformer nearby blew. Just have to ride it out and hope that none of the big trees fall down around us.


    Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey issues a blunt warning: "Do not leave your homes until the storm has completely passed this afternoon." Flooding is still a major risk to public safety he says.


    More details from the National Hurricane Center: according to an updated report the storm moved over New York City at 1300 GMT (0900 EDT), with winds of 65mph (100 km/h).

    Shannon H

    tweets: Just walked in water up to my knees in my backyard! Thanks #Irene


    Images from the New York area are now starting to come in - here's one of a car crushed by a fallen tree in Brooklyn.

    Crushed car under a tree in Brooklyn, New York
    1336: Laura Trevelyan BBC News, New York

    sends word from the flood zone: The walkway here on the south cove of Battery Park City has flooded, and the water is above the top of my boots. But a local building manager says the 4ft storm surge isn't as bad as feared and unless the water level rises by 11ft he will keep the generator on. This shows New Yorkers can follow instructions, he says. The high tide will start to go out now which will offset the storm surge.

    1337: NYC Mayor's Office

    tweets a word of caution despite the downgrading of the storm: We are in the midst of the most dangerous period of the storm, so for your safety, continue to remain indoors. #Irene


    It could be days before power is restored to millions of homes, US Federal Emergency Management Director Craig Fugate has told Fox News. Damage assessments are just starting in some areas, he said, and it is not yet clear whether systems have been damaged or if they switched themselves off. An estimated 3.3m homes and businesses along the east coast are without power.

    Kristi Ray in New Bern, North Carolina,

    tweets: Driving around seeing the aftermath of #Irene. It's heartbreaking. Our beautiful city got pounded. #NewBern

    Photo: Kristi Ray

    Amid all the coverage of Irene, it's worth noting that a more powerful storm - known in Asia as a typhoon - has hit the Philippines, killing at least eight people. The country is regularly hit by powerful storms, but the wind speed there, of up to 145mph (230km/h) was considerably higher than Irene even at its peak. Typhoon Nanmadol is now heading towards Taiwan.

    Mark Krajnak, New Jersey

    tweets: Anyone in CNJ have a generator I can borrow? I'll love you forever. #irene

    Emily Rueb, New York

    sums up the New York morning for many: People poking their heads out of doorways in Times Square as the eye of #Irene passes over.


    This storm is now moving fast. A satellite image on Weather Underground from 1400 GMT (1000 EDT) shows that most of the rain is now over upstate New York and the New England area.


    Many millions of people in the US are vulnerable to power cuts in severe weather, especially in rural areas where trees can fall on power lines at any time. In Connecticut, one power company - CT Light and Power now says nearly half a million customer are without power.

    The BBC's Barbara Plett BBC News, New York,

    tweets: Eye of Irene has passed over New York, NY1 reporting a jogger on Coney Island boardwalk.

    Jonathan T Nisi, an emergency worker in Bergen County, New Jersey

    writes: The roads are horrendous; there are trees down on almost every road, as well as flooding. I was almost struck by a tree.


    More from New Jersey Governor Chris Christie: "I've got to imagine the damage estimates will be in the billions of dollars if not the tens of billions of dollars," Mr Christie told NBC News. The costliest hurricane in US history was Katrina, which flooded New Orleans in 2005 and is estimated to have caused more than $100bn worth of damage.


    There's a general sense that the weakening of the storm and its move inland means that the main danger has passed for New York City. Despite that, the rear side of the storm is still likely to whip round back towards the area in the coming hours, forecasters say. For now, though, it's mainly dry and calmer.

    Jonathan Katz Associated Press, New York

    tweets a video showing flooded streets in Manhattan.


    Jonathan Katz, who tweeted the video link in the last entry, has reported on hurricanes and earthquakes in Haiti and the Dominican Republic. He adds a note of caution to his fellow Americans: "This is my first developed-world hurricane, but the rule elsewhere is not to count your chickens until long after it's passed. #Irene"


    More stock-taking from the post-Irene zone: the resort of Ocean City, which was evacuated on Thursday night, has reopened to business and property owners, with visitors expected to be admitted later on Sunday. Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley has said that damage to the town was less than feared.


    At least 11 people are now known to have died during the storm, with as many as 4.5 million people affected by power cuts, reports now say. Most of those who died were killed either by falling trees, or in accidents relating to the sheer amount of water on the streets.


    Away from New York City, the concern is now for flash flooding in upstate New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and into Vermont, CNN's weather centre says. Areas of Vermont, Maine and Massachussetts are only now getting drenched - with up to 10 inches of rain expected during the day.

    Hadyn Lassiter, West Haven, Connecticut,

    sent this photo of his local oyster bar at the harbour. He says: There are still heavy winds and sporadic downpours. The temperature is cooling.

    Photo: Hadyn Lassiter
    Michael Milberger New York

    tweets: Just lost power in Brooklyn.... on my ipad. It's ok recharging now. #irene


    In Ocean City, Maryland - one of the most exposed and hardest hit areas - there is sun in the sky and there are surfers in the sea, according to one US TV network.


    And more good news for the eastern shore: CBS News shows the scene in Kill Devil Hills, North Caroline, where Irene first came ashore - the skies are blue and the sea is calm.


    The US Federal Emergency Management Agency is now holding a news conference.


    Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano: "Our number one message is that we're not out of the woods yet."


    Napolitano: Power outages remain an issue up and down the coast. People urged to stay off the roads so efforts to reconnect power can make progress.


    Napolitano: "We still have a way to go with Irene, but I want to thank those who followed the advice of officials last night. We have significantly reduced loss of life during the storm."


    Napolitano: "I think it's safe to say that the worst of the storm... has passed."


    Bill Read of the National Hurricane Center is now updating us on the storm's progress.


    Bill Read: Storm to exit most of Connecticut, Massachusetts and Maine by this afternoon.


    National Hurricane Center director Bill Read warns of major flooding risks to river systems in northern New England for later today


    Craig Fugate, head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, says downed trees and substantial flooding remains the biggest risk to the public and will dictate the pace of recovery.


    Almost unbelievably, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo tells CNN there was a 2.8-magnitude earthquake near the state capital, Albany, overnight. Remember, there was an earthquake in Virginia on Tuesday.

    Mayor of Newark, New Jersey, Cory Booker

    tweets: Incredible. My chief of staff just went 2 get a woman from Court St out in storm selling papers. I told him 2 buy her out &get her 2 shelter

    1551: Barbara Plett BBC News, New York,

    The sun came out briefly in Brooklyn as I walked to the 24-hour shop, it reported a few overnight customers who braved the storm... The 9/11 memorial & museum is reporting no major damage, the 400 or so trees surrounding its reflecting pools are still standing.


    More post-Irene news from Maryland: the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, linking the state's Eastern and Western Shore, is back in business after closing during the height of the wind and rain.


    CBS News in the US now puts the death toll at 14, without giving details, and reporters describe storm surges of almost 10ft in New England.


    Images are now coming in thick and fast, revealing both the extent of the damage and the state of the weather where Irene is still moving. Here's a house in Annapolis, on the Maryland shoreline not too far from Washington DC:

    House damaged in Maryland
    1607: Laura Trevelyan BBC News, New York

    There is a feeling of relief here that things weren't as bad as was first feared, although there has been damage up and down the eastern seaboard and we are getting reports of new damage on Long Island and further north.


    In Washington DC, which was slightly to the west of the main path of the storm, trees were felled all over the city, including in the upmarket Georgetown neighbourhood.

    Fallen tree in Georgetown, Washington DC

    Speaking on the BBC News channel, one New York cab driver, Peter Franklin, says the hurricane in fact turned out to be something of a "cab driver's dream". With the subway shut and the buses in their garages, taxis were the only way to get around and drivers were allowed to pick up multiple fares at one time. "I lost count of the amount of fares I had," Mr Franklin said.

    1623: Franz Strasser BBC News, Maryland

    South of Annapolis, on the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay various areas are flooded, although no houses seem to be impacted. Neighbors here say they have been without power since midnight but feel like they dodged a bullet.

    Floodwaters in Maryland
    David Tressel, NYC,

    emails: It is over. While the emergency management procedures are appreciated and were well-executed, this has been little more than a strong thunder storm.


    New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has told residents to continue to stay inside, and has praised those who complied with evacuation notices. Public transport and highways will start getting back to normal over the next couple of days, he added.

    1647: Marcus George BBC News, Washington

    A spokesman for the US Tennis Association tells me there appears to be no significant damage to Flushing Meadows, the home of the US Open tennis tournament, and they're hoping it can start as scheduled on Monday. But it all depends on whether New York's public transport system is up and running by then.

    David Gallagher New York Times

    tweets: By now all of Park Slope has photographed this downed tree on Lincoln near 5th.

    Saideh Browne

    tweets: From what I see in Hudson County in NJ is minimal structural damage but VERY HEAVY road flooding. #Irene


    With disaster seemingly averted in New York City, the focus is now going to shift to New England, an area dotted with small town and verdant landscapes already saturated by above-average rainfall this season.


    Fierce gusts of wind have already been reported in the small state of Rhode Island, while - as mentioned earlier - about 500,000 people are without power in Connecticut. The key concerns for later today are the prospect of a storm surge along the coastline and possible flooding in inland areas.


    New York city officials are now holding a news conference: residents should hope for the beginnings of the resumption of public transport service later on Monday.


    New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg: 9/11 memorial undamaged, construction to resume tomorrow. On schedule for completion by 11 September.


    Bloomberg: We are seeing very serious consequences of the storm, including downed trees and power outages.


    Bloomberg: Rivers are flowing very fast and residents should avoid getting too close. Falling into the Bronx river today would not be a good thing.


    Bloomberg: Storm has uprooted "something like 650 trees". More than 100 crews working to remove them.


    Bloomberg: "All in all I think we are in pretty good shape, because of the measures we took."


    Bloomberg: I understand people are very anxious to get back home to evacuated areas, but safety is main priority. An aerial survey is being carried out.


    Bloomberg: Evacuation order to be officially lifted by 15:00 (19:00 GMT)


    Mayor Bloomberg appeals for patience in moving people back to where they were before the storm, and reminds us that it took two days to move vulnerable people from vulnerable areas.


    Transport is going to resume slowly in New York: the Staten Island ferry will operate from later today, but there will be no transport to either end, Mayor Bloomberg says.


    Bloomberg: New York Stock Exchange plans to open on time on Monday.


    New York transport director Jay Walder says a major inspection of the region's transport network is ongoing but will take time. Bus service is likely to be the first to be restored, he says.


    Bloomberg: Transport tomorrow "is going to be tough".


    Mayor Bloomberg is answering a question about whether or not he and his officials over-reacted to the coming of the storm. One Twitter user at least, Amanda Marcotte, thinks he took the right decision: "Bloomberg's reaction was directly in line with the predictions he was given. And it could have been that bad."


    Bloomberg: "We would make the same decisions again. But if it happens again I want to make sure we learn some things from this one."

    Dave Weigel Slate political reporter

    tweets from Washington - with the benefit of hindsight: Phew, thank goodness they delayed the MLK memorial opening and dodged this weather


    Back in New York, Mayor Bloomberg responds to the suggestion of over-reaction: "We're just not going to take any risks with people's lives. The best scenario is that you take the precautions and they're not needed."

    1801: Hurricane Irene: Your pictures

    The storm may have passed most of the US, but there are plenty of pictures still to look at. Send your storm pictures to the BBC. This one was taken by Kevin Kirk in Manhattan:

    Rows of empty New York taxi cabs. Photo: Kevin Kirk

    The latest update from the US National Hurricane Center is out. Irene is resilient - still boasting 60mph (95km/h) winds, some 15 miles south of Pittsfield, Massachusetts.


    The storm is moving at about 26mph (43km/h), the NHC says, heading to northern New England and eastern Canada.


    Irene also remains a big storm: tropical storm force winds extend up to 320 miles (520km) from the centre, mainly to east.


    But the key line hints that the end is in sight: "Irene is forecast to weaken and become a post-tropical cyclone by tonight."


    And that's where we are going to leave our live coverage of Irene, a storm which battered the Bahamas as a strong hurricane before heading towards the US on a path that frankly terrified officials there. Forecast to sweep up the heavily populated east coast, state and federal government estimated that some 65 million people were endangered by the storm.


    The storm was deadly: 14 people are known to have died, and millions of dollars worth of damage has been inflicted on homes and businesses in states stretching from North Carolina, through Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey and New York, right up to the northern reaches of New England, where hurricanes and tropical storms are rare.


    Indeed, concern remains over flooding in many of those areas already hit, and most especially in Massachusetts, Vermont and Maine, where the impact is only now being felt.

    House in Fairhaven, Massachusetts

    You can follow the rest of the developments throughout the day on our homepage as Tropical Storm Irene moves northwards and the eastern US heads back to some kind of normality. Thanks for being with us.


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