Irene Kills 9, Forces 2 Million to Evacuate
Killer hurricane Irene has left nine people dead and one million people without electricity, and two million people have been evacuated.
Winds have reached 125 miles an hour as the storm rips through Maryland, where 200,000 people were evacuated from the seaside resort of Ocean City. Irene dumped more than 15 inches of rain in some parts of Virginia and Maryland.
The northern edge of the hurricane is at New York City, which will feel the full force of the massive 450-mile wide storm Sunday afternoon. The subway system has been shut down.
Airlines have canceled 10,000 flights, including those to and from Israel. All New York City airports are closed.
The Federal Emergency Management Administration warned that Irene may spawn tornadoes and President Barack Obama said that the next three days are “going to be a long 72 hours, and obviously a lot of families are going to be affected…. So we’ll have to stay on top of the recovery.”
The good news for the East Coast is that the hurricane has been downgraded to the lowest category of danger, and its peak will have passed Sunday as the hurricane weakens in its northward trek. By the time it reaches New York, it may be downgraded to a "tropical storm."
The death toll of nine claimed most of its victims in North Carolina, where five people died, three of them in storm-related car accidents.
The capital of Washington, D.C. is inland from the coast, and residents did not feel the full fury of the hurricane but still were drenched with up to six inches of rain and gale force winds, slightly less than the hurricane force of 75 miles an hour.
Washington, D.C. area airports were open, but many flights were cancelled.