East Coast Cautiously Picks Up From Weekend Storm

President Obama warns that the full extent of Irene’s devastation has not yet been seen.

Posted: 08/29/2011 08:48 AM EDT
Filed Under Hurricane Irene

A New York City taxi is stranded in deep water on Manhattan’s West Side Sunday. (Photo: AP Photo/Peter Morgan)

Hurricane Irene blew through the eastern coast of the U.S. this weekend and although the storm didn’t leave behind the amount of devastation predicted, many areas are still struggling to recover from its wrath.

The once–hurricane has been downgraded to a post–tropical cyclone that crossed into Canada overnight. Back in the U.S., however, many places are facing dangerously high flood waters, property damage and lengthy commutes on Monday.

President Obama addressed the nation on Sunday and warned east coast residents not to underestimate the aftermath of the storm.

“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," President Obama said Sunday. "So I want people to understand that this is not over.”

The estimated cost from wind damage alone will exceed $1 billion, with overall damage around $7 billion total. More than four million customers were left without electricity during the weekend and Irene claimed the lives of at least 25 people.

Air travel was delayed and postponed across the region this weekend as nearly 9,000 flights were cancelled in anticipation of the storm. Airports opened Monday to a swell of passengers trying to resume travel plans thwarted by Irene.

Nearly five million homes and businesses lost power at some point during the storm. Lights started to come back on for many residences on Sunday, although it was expected to take several days for electricity to be fully restored.

Despite forced evacuations in several areas, New York City sustained only moderate damage from the storm. Only about 50,000 people were without power, however, and residents were left grounded as the city’s public transportation system was shut down for the first time in its history out of safety concerns.

According to the Associated Press, Mayor Michael Bloomberg defended his decision to take drastic precautions, saying, "We were just unwilling to risk the life of a single New Yorker.”

Many of the hardest–hit areas were locations inland that endured record rainfall. In Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Vermont, rivers and creeks swelled as the rain continued for hours.

Irene came almost six years to the day after Katrina ravaged New Orleans on Aug. 29, 2005, marking it the first hurricane to make landfall in the continental United States since 2008.

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