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UPDATE 8-Vermont, New Jersey flooded as Irene spares NYC
August 30, 2011 / 12:15 AM / in 6 years

UPDATE 8-Vermont, New Jersey flooded as Irene spares NYC

 * At least 38 killed by Irene in United States
 * Vermont sees worst flooding in more than 80 years
 * New Jersey towns struggle to cope with rising water
 * Power knocked out for 5.1 million customers
 (Updates death toll)
 By Christine Kearney and Scott Malone
 FAIRFIELD, N.J./BRATTLEBORO, Vt., Aug 29 (Reuters) - New
Jersey and Vermont struggled with their worst flooding in
decades on Monday, a day after Hurricane Irene slammed an
already soaked U.S. Northeast with torrential rain, dragging
away homes and submerging neighborhoods underwater.
 The massive storm churned up the U.S. East Coast over the
weekend killing at least 38 people in 11 states, in addition to
three who died in the Dominican Republic and one in Puerto Rico
when the storm was still in the Caribbean, authorities said.
 Spared from Irene's worst fury, New York City went back to
work on Monday despite a partially crippled mass transit system
and power outages that left 100,000 customers in the
metropolitan area and nearly 1 million in the state without
electricity. [ID:nN1E77S0K6]
 Overall, some 5.1 million homes and businesses were still
without power from North Carolina to Maine, and utilities said
it could take days to restore electricity in more accessible
areas and weeks in the hardest-hit regions. [ID:nN1E77S0X2]
 Total economic damage could reach $20 billion, Standard &
Poor's Senior Economist Beth Ann Bovino said. Hundreds of
thousands of homes suffered damage, raising questions about how
much would be covered by insurance as many homeowner policies
do not cover flood damage. [ID:nN1E77S0KB]
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  TAKE A LOOK on Irene                         [ID:nSTORM]
  Vermont flooded after torrential rain    [ID:nN1E77S0N2]
  Storm map:                link.reuters.com/zyw43s
  Reuters Insider:          link.reuters.com/tuz43s
  ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^>
 In Fairfield, New Jersey, about 20 homes near the Passaic
River were submerged, some in at least five feet (1.5 metres)
of water. Some people waded chest high or rode canoes down the
street, while others just sat and witnessed the flood from
their stoops.
 "This is the worst flood we have ever had," said Mike
Chiafulio, 52, who could only watch as the water continued to
rise around his mother's house. He said the flooding exceeding
what he remembered from notable floods in 1968 and 1984.
 The leafy suburb of Maplewood some 20 miles (32 km) west of
New York City was jarred by the sound of whirring generators,
sirens and pumps emptying water from flooded houses.
 Hundreds of thousands of people in New Jersey could be
without electricity, water supplies or gas for days to come,
their comfortable towns strewn with felled trees and branches
blocking main roadways.
 "We've had major rains before but we've never had flooding
like this," said Ben Cohen, a retired judge who lives in
Maplewood. "I can only vouch for the last 38 years but nothing
even can come close to this."
 In the town of Whippany, firefighters trained in swift
water rescue pulled two youths out of the raging Whippany
River, Deputy Fire Chief Randy Polo said.
 Dumped from a raft at a man-made waterfall in the river,
one teen was clinging to a log and the other to a broken tree
limb in the thundering current, Polo said. The rescue took
about an hour, he said.
 "They were grateful, to say the least," Polo said.
 OBAMA PLEDGES AID
 "It's going to take time to recover from a storm of this
magnitude," President Barack Obama told reporters in
Washington. "The effects are still being felt across much of
the country, including in New England and states like Vermont
where there's been an enormous amount of flooding.
 "I'm going to make sure that FEMA (Federal Emergency
Management Agency) and other agencies are doing everything in
their power to help people on the ground."
 Vermont officials called it the state's worst flooding
since 1927.
 Air travel at New York City's three major area airports
slowly resumed service, and financial markets operated
normally, although volumes were low. [ID:nN1E77S0A9]
 More than 12,000 East Coast flights were canceled and it
could take three days to restore normal service, the industry
group Air Transport Association said.
 New York City subways returned to service, but many
commuter lines to the city and national train carrier Amtrak
were disrupted due to tracks that were flooded or blocked with
fallen trees and debris.
 While Irene failed to produce the devastation many had
expected when New York City preemptively ordered unprecedented
evacuations and a shutdown of its mass transit system on
Saturday, it still left hundreds of thousands of homeowners
with flood damage, especially in New Jersey and Vermont.
 "I keep being somewhat disappointed by some of the national
press that think because Manhattan wasn't hit, everything is
fine. We're not Manhattan, but we have human lives here in
Vermont, too," Governor Peter Shumlin said after surveying
washed out roads and bridges and homes bobbing in the water.
 Shumlin visited the Whetstone Studio for the Arts in
Brattleboro, an artsy community of 12,000 along the Connecticut
River. Gushing water ate away at the building and left its
second floor dangling precariously over the flood.
 MASSIVE RAINFALL
 Some 5 to 15 inches (12 to 38 cm) of rain fell over a 24-
to 36-hour period in northeastern states, said David Vallee, a
hydrologist with the National Weather Service, creating
moderate to major flooding in parts of eastern New York state,
the Connecticut River valley and much of northern New Hampshire
and Vermont.
 Fairfield, New Jersey, home to more than 7,000 people, was
in danger of becoming an island as flooding from the Passaic
River was expected to surpass that of a memorable flood in
1984, Essex County Sheriff Armando Fontoura said.
 "We are surrounded already," said Gail Dupas, 36, who fled
to a hotel after floodwaters on her street reached neck deep.
"It's devastating. You have to grab what you can. Anything
that's irreplaceable."
 Alex Adams, 35, looked relieved as a Maplewood fire truck
arrived at his house to pump out more than two feet (60 cm) of
water that accumulated in his basement.
 "It obliterated everything but we were most concerned about
getting electrocuted," Adams said.
 "My wife and I were in there pulling out everything when we
realized water was over the outlets."
 Even the mega wealthy were inconvenienced by Irene. Hedge
fund magnate David Tepper was forced from his plush office in
Millburn, New Jersey, as the fund's main offices lost power.
Tepper is founder of hedge fund Appaloosa Management LP.
 The costly cleanup will also further strain budgets of
state and local governments, where economies have not recovered
from the recession.
 "It's a hit but not a fatal hit," said Joseph Seneca, a
professor at Rutgers University's Edward J. Bloustein School of
Planning and Public Policy. "The ability of states to respond
(to the hurricane) is more constrained," Seneca said.
 (Reporting by Christine Kearney in Fairfield, New Jersey;
Scott Malone in Brattleboro, Vermont; Karen Pierog in Chicago;
Svea Herbst-Bayliss, Toni Clarke and Lauren Keiper in Boston;
Ben Berkowitz, Josh Schneyer and Edith Honan in New York;
Tabassum Zakaria and Jeff Mason in Washington; David Warner in
Philadelphia; Matthew Goldstein in Millburn, New Jersey; Grant
McCool in Maplewood, New Jersey; Writing by Daniel Trotta;
Editing by Eric Beech and Todd Eastham)

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