NYC recovering from Irene
Hundreds of thousands of evacuated New Yorkers were being allowed back home after a weakening Tropical Storm Irene churned over the US financial capital without causing extensive damage.
Fears of major flooding had subsided and New York’s stock exchanges were due to open tomorrow, even if public transport and flights remained suspended.
Earlier, the powerful storm caused widespread destruction along the US eastern seaboard. It was forecast to hit Canada early on Monday.
At least 11 deaths have been linked to the powerful storm, which destroyed buildings in North Carolina and Virginia, and left millions without power.
The storm was classified as a category three hurricane, carrying winds of more than 120mph (192km/h), when it swept through the Caribbean last week but later weakened, being downgraded to a tropical storm as it reached New York.
US Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said that while there was still a way to go with Irene, the “worst of the storm has passed”, adding that the precautions taken had “dramatically decreased” the threat to lives along the eastern US.
But National Hurricane Centre director Bill Read warned that heavy rains meant there was still a major flooding risk to river systems, especially in New England.
New York Mayor Micahel Bloomberg lifted evacuation orders affecting 370 000 people. But public transport and flights from the city’s main airports remain suspended while officials assess the damage caused by the storm.
Mayor Bloomberg said: “All in all, we are in pretty good shape because of the measures we took.”
He said the subway system would remain closed until safety inspections were complete and admitted Monday’s would be a “tough commute”. Officials said air travel would remain suspended until late afternoon on Monday at the earliest.
Mr Bloomberg appealed for patience from those desperate to get back to homes and defended the measures taken to protect citizens.
“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.” (BBC)