Times Square deserted ahead of Irene's arrival

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The rain-drenched streets of midtown Manhattan have been left virtually deserted ahead of the impending arrival of Hurricane Irene.

Times Square, the so-called crossroads of the world, is empty as Broadway shows are cancelled, and even Starbucks and McDonald's are shut.

George Kourounis, a storm chaser in Long Island, New York, said even though the storm had weakened there was a ''tremendous potential for this to be a very damaging weather event''.

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