Hurricane Irene may be America’s costliest catastrophe

August 31st, 2011 - 11:14 am ICT by IANS  

Washingto/New York, Aug 31 (IANS) As the US East Coast struggled to recover from the aftermath of Hurricane Irene, rising floodwaters forced thousands of evacuations in New Jersey and Connecticut with 13 flooded Vermont towns already cut off.

Irene will most likely prove to be one of the 10 costliest catastrophes in American history, the New York Times said, citing industry estimates putting the cost of the storm at $7 billion to $10 billion, largely because the hurricane pummelled an unusually wide area of the East Coast.

The death toll stemming from Irene continued to rise Tuesday. At least 43 deaths were linked to the storm, from Florida to North Carolina to New England, CNN reported.

An estimated 2.85 million customers remained without power Tuesday afternoon, the US Department of Energy said. That included more than half a million each in Connecticut and New York, more than 400,000 in Virginia, more than 300,000 in New Jersey and more than 250,000 in Maryland.

Nearly 6.7 million customers initially were left without power by the storm, the department said.

“This storm covered a tremendous amount of territory,” Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told reporters in Virginia. She said most states are now in recovery, though a few states-like Vermont and New Jersey-are still in response mode.

In New York City, which was largely spared by the storm, the authorities had cleared three-quarters of the nearly 2,000 trees knocked down by the storm. About 8,000 customers remained without power, mostly in Queens, home to largest concentration of Indian-Americans in the US.

Transportation also remained limited, with large swaths of train tracks submerged. Amtrak said it was hoping to restore most service between Washington and New York Wednesday.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at arun.kumar@ians.in)

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