Last week Irene swept through the Caribbean with winds of more than 192km/h but as it moved north-east it was downgraded to a tropical storm. About 40 people were killed by the storm on the US east coast and Irene is now on Canada’s north-east (map, from bbcimg.co.uk).
If New York escaped a major disaster on Sunday and transport resumed on Monday, the situation is different in the north-east of the country where five million homes have no electricity.
Following an already wet summer season, both New Jersey and Vermont were inundated by the storm.
The state of Vermont is battling the worst flooding in nearly a century, including in the town of Brattleboro, where bridges were washed away.
On Monday Governor Peter Shumlin said “we prepared for the worst and we got the worst in central and southern Vermont.”
“We have extraordinary infrastructure damage.”
Besides Irene, the state capital, Montpelier, could face inundation if the local water company releases water in order to save the Marshal Reservoir, a local dam where waters are reaching attaining record levels. Therefore hundreds of people have been told to evacuate the city.
‘Billions of dollars’
In Wilmington, another town in Vermont, a woman was swept away by an overflowing river.
People were told by authorities to avoid travelling in the state because of significant flooding, damaged roads and downed power lines.
On Monday state office buildings, schools and universities remained closed.
“It’s very serious for us at the moment in Vermont. The top two-thirds of the state are inundated with rapidly rising waters, which we anticipate will be an issue for the next 24 hours,” said Robert Stirewalt, a spokesman for Vermont Emergency Management Agency.
New Jersey’s Governor Chris Christie said “we dodged a bullet” but still urged people to stay home during a news conference : “If you don’t have to go to work tomorrow, don’t go to work tomorrow.”
“Tomorrow is going to be a very difficult day to travel around the State of New Jersey,” he added.
In a statement Governor Andrew Cuomo asked residents of upstate New York to follow the directions of emergency officials : “I urge residents of the Schoharie Valley and near the Mohawk River to take extreme caution overnight and tomorrow. Follow the directions of local emergency officials. If ordered to evacuate you should do so without hesitation.”
Although we don’t know yet how much Irene will cost, Governor Christie told NBC that in New Jersey alone the damage was expected in “the billions of dollars”.
The storm passed New York on Sunday and people were trying to go back to work on the next day.
There was little damage in both Ground Zero and the New York Stock Exchange, which opened for business as usual.
Thee city’s subway resumed on Monday at 06:00 (10:00 GMT) and its three main airports should all reopen during the day. Airports in Boston and Philadelphia were also affected.
Officials lifted Philadelphia’s first state of emergency since 1986 as the storm destroyed several buildings. However Irene didn’t kill or hurt anybody in the city.
In North Carolina TV footage showed fallen trees and power lines and Governor Berverly Perdue said some areas are still unreachable.
In Virginia officials said the damage was not as bad as feared.
On Sunday president Barack Obama warned that although Irene was gone the impact of the storm would be felt for some time, adding that the recovery effort along the coast will last for weeks.
He also said that because swollen rivers could burst their banks there are still risks of flooding and power cuts.
With $35bn in losses in the US from floods, tornadoes and heat waves, 2011 has been one of the most extreme year for weather in the history of the country.