FEMA: Lots of work ahead of us after Irene - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

FEMA: Lots of work ahead of us after Irene

(RNN) - As the remnants of what was once Hurricane Irene entered Canada Monday morning, the storm's affects were still being felt across the U.S. East Coast, where floodwaters in Vermont and spotty public transportation in New York prevented a full return to normalcy Monday.

The situation in Vermont remains especially dire, where widespread, severe flooding remains ongoing in several counties.

"We have seen record flooding in Vermont, record flooding in New York. We still have rivers that have yet to crest," said Craig Fugate, Federal Emergency Management Agency director, on Monday. "The river forecast center for Northeast was reporting that some of these rivers may not crest for two to three days, so the extent of impacts we still won't know."

Flooding in Waterbury Village even forced the Vermont Emergency Management (VEM) department to relocate overnight Sunday to Burlington, VT, about 30 minutes away.

Irene fatalities

Connecticut: 2

Florida: 2

Maryland: 1

Massachusetts: 1

New Jersey: 6

New York: 5

North Carolina: 6

Pennsylvania: 5

Vermont: 2

Virginia: 4

Total: 35

Source: Associated Press

"We were fortunate to have a place that met our technological and logistical needs so close," Vermont Emergency Operations Center Manager Chris Reinfurt said.

On Monday, more than 250 roads were reported damaged in the New England state, many of which are impassable at the present time, according a news release from VEM.

The agency said 50,000 customers were without power, a luxury that may not be restored for some time because of the conditions of the state's roads.

One death in Vermont has been attributed to the storm. The body of a woman who was believed to have been washed away by flood waters was found in Deerfield River.

Storm lost its 'mojo,' but Irene still costly and deadly

The death count from Irene totals 35 across ten states across the country, according to the Associated Press.

Chad Myers, a CNN weather anchor and severe weather expert, said the storm was weakened by its landfall in North Carolina, which dismantled its eye wall.

"It never got its mojo back," Myers said Sunday.

The storm gradually destabilized, and was only a tropical storm by the time the eye passed over New York City early Sunday morning.

[SLIDESHOW: Irene advances]

Authorities continued to survey damage, estimated Monday to be in the billions.

Fugate pledged his support to Irene victims on Sunday.

"When the disaster comes off the news and no one is paying attention, we still don't go home," he said to CNN. "We know we've got a lot of work ahead of us."

New York shows signs of normalcy

Brooklyn residents trickled into the streets and breathed a sigh of relief as the Irene's gusts subsided Sunday night.

"There wasn't much damage, and everyone was out. The bars were over-packed," said Ardice Cotter, an NYU graduate student.

Cotter said New Yorkers were sharing their war stories, and that the city that never sleeps was happy to be freed from apartment buildings.

By Monday, New York showed further signs of recovery. The Metropolitan Transit Authority said on its website that with the exception of the Metro-North Railroad, the city's subway lines, busses and commuter rails were largely operating on normal schedules.

None of the Metro-North's three lines would be in service Monday due to three mudslides and continued flooding. Metro-North is the commuter rail that provides service to New Jersey and Connecticut.

Jon Lichtinger, who commutes from Manhattan to New Jersey every day for work, was one of the unlucky people impacted by the storm. Lichtinger decided to take the 1.25-hour car ride to his office, but found it closed upon arrival.

According to the National Weather Service's Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service, some lakes and streams in New Jersey - such as the Assunpink Creek in Trenton, NJ - are 15 feet above flood stage,

Newark, NJ, Mayor Cory Booker said in a tweet that some residents in his area will be without power for five to seven days.

Laurel Manlow, a graduate student at Colombia University, said her morning commute from Manhattan's Upper West Side neighborhood to work in the Financial District was "normal," allaying her fears of a rush-hour traffic meltdown.

Krishna Stone, an employee of Gay Men's Health Crisis, also reported a relatively easy commute from Brooklyn to her Manhattan office this morning.

"There were no painful delays on the subway trains," she said. "However, I was 'smart' not to travel during rush hours. I was on the train by 9:30 a.m. instead of trying to get to work before 9:00."

By 7 a.m. local time, arrivals at the city's five major airports were expected to resume.

Port Authority of New York and New Jersey agency spokesman Steve Coleman told CNN over the weekend that thousands of airplane flights had been canceled, leaving "tens of thousands of people" in limbo.

The New York Stock Exchange opened on time Monday morning. And the Broadway League announced that curtains would come back up on the Great White Way after cancellations across the board on Saturday and Sunday.

Six years after Katrina

Irene reached New York almost six years to the day from Katrina's assault, which was on Aug. 28, 2005.

The date struck a special chord with Cotter, who is a survivor of the storm. 

Just six years ago, she was living in Hattiesburg, MS, and attending the University of Southern Mississippi, when the storm devastated the South.

It's for that reason that she's not joining those who are criticizing New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who ordered the first weather evacuations in the city's history, of over reacting.

"I think that impatient New Yorkers, especially young people who haven't been in that situation where they don't have any power, any water, any food, any way to get any help, are the first people to misunderstand the severity of what could have happened," Cotter said. "Until you are in a Katrina-type situation or are just stuck and don't have any help, you don't understand that."

Cotter gave the governor top marks for how he handled the dense 8.1 million population of New York.

"He didn't want another Katrina on his hands," Cotter said.


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