More than a million residents across New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont remained without electricity on Tuesday in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene. Irene hit  New York City on Sunday  as a weakened tropical storm after raking the Eastern seaboard from North Carolina to New Jersey. So far, the storm has killed at least 44 people.

With Irene's brutal rain replaced by crisp temperatures and brilliant blue skies, utility repair crews, cleanup teams and state and federal relief officials crisscrossed the region to assess the damage and reassure residents that help was on its way.

Track the latest Atlantic hurricanes and tropical storms, and look back over past seasons at WSJ's Hurricane Tracker.

A southerly dip in a jet stream on the U.S. mainland and warmer-than-usual water temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean are helping push Hurricane Irene farther north along the Eastern seaboard than most tropical storms, say meteorologists.

But the Category 3 hurricane also could lose much of its force if it moves slowly over cooler waters north of the Carolinas, they add. Read more >>

Power companies on the Eastern seaboard braced for Hurricane Irene, warning customers that major power outages are likely if the storm makes good on its threat to make landfall this weekend with high wind speeds.

Irene has attracted special attention because it could be the first hurricane to slam New York City in about 25 years.

Utilities are preparing for downed power lines, damage to power substations in low-lying areas and uprooted trees from North Carolina to Massachusetts. Read more >>

Exchanges laid out plans late Thursday to cope with the high winds and heavy rain expected as Hurricane Irene moves northward, in what is expected to be Mother Nature’s second big disruption for the Eastern U.S. within a week.

Officials planned to convene conference calls and visit data centers that house key trading systems throughout the weekend, as Irene seems to be on a path to hit the New York financial hub on Saturday and Sunday. Read more >>

As Hurricane Irene barreled toward the East Coast, New York City officials prepared for the possibility of evacuating hundreds of thousands of residents in low-lying areas and a full shutdown of the city’s transit system.

Smart Money: As soon as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration dubbed the approaching Category 3 storm Irene on Aug. 20, consumers’ ability to shift their travel plans got more limited. But there’s still some recourse to change plans or get a refund for at least part of your trip. Read more >>

The U.S. National Weather Service says heightened waves and swells have starting hitting North Carolina’s coast as Hurricane Irene approaches.

Meteorologist Hal Austin says North Carolina’s Outer Banks have started seeing six- to nine-foot waves early Friday.

Hurricane Irene has weakened slightly to a Category 2 storm as it approaches the U.S. East Coast, where a hurricane warning has been extended to New Jersey.

The new hurricane warning area now extends from North Carolina’s coast northward to Sandy Hook, N.J., just south of New York City. A hurricane warning means hurricane conditions are expected within 36 hours.

A hurricane watch has been issued for areas along the coast north of New Jersey, including New York’s Long Island and Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, Mass.

Meanwhile, Irene’s maximum sustained winds have decreased to 110 mph. But the National Hurricane Center says some restrengthening  is possible. The storm is expected to be near the threshold between  a Category 2 and 3 storm as it reaches North Carolina’s coast.

Here is a state-by-state glance on how Hurricane Irene is predicted to strike states all along the Eastern Seaboard as of Thursday evening:

Forecasters predict Irene to make landfall on Sunday. They say they are unable to determine where it would hit land first because forecasts show that could be anywhere between New Jersey and Cape Cod.

MAINEForecasters predict Irene to reach northern New England Sunday night. Heavy rain expected to start Saturday night. Potential for flooding rains and gusty winds.

MASSACHUSETTSForecasters predict Irene to make landfall in Massachusetts on Sunday. They say they are unable to determine where it would hit land first because forecasts show that could be anywhere between New Jersey and Cape Cod.

NEW HAMPSHIREForecasters predict Irene to reach northern New England Sunday night.Heavy rain expected to start Saturday night. Potential for flooding rains and gusty winds.

NEW JERSEYForecasters predict Irene to make landfall by 10 a.m. Sunday near Cape May.Hurricane watch in effect for nine counties.

NEW YORKForecasters predict Irene to make landfall early Sunday morning in the eastern part of Queens, New York City, as a Category 1 storm.

NORTH CAROLINAForecasters predict Irene to make landfall Saturday afternoon near Morehead City. Early storm surge prediction of 7 to 9 feet along Outer Banks and northern coast.Hurricane warning for entire coast.

PENNSYLVANIAForecasters predict Irene to make landfall on Sunday. They said it is too soon to tell where the hurricane would make landfall in Pennsylvania because the track of the storm is uncertain.

RHODE ISLANDForecasters predict Irene to make landfall on Sunday. They say they are unable to determine where it would hit land first because forecasts show that could be anywhere between New Jersey and Cape Cod.

SOUTH CAROLINAForecaster predict Irene to be about 100 miles east of Myrtle Beach early Saturday morning.

VERMONTForecasters predict Irene to reach northern New England Sunday night.Heavy rain expected to start Saturday night. Potential for flooding rains and gusty winds.

The Trinity Repertory Company in Providence is offering free tickets to its season opener “to the first 10 patrons named Irene who come through its box office doors.”(Tickets, of course, are limited to “two per Irene.”)

“After all, how you would you feel if you were an innocent Irene, going about your business, and all of the sudden had your world turned upside down by an unfortunate tropical storm?” the theater company says in a press release, offering tickets to next month’s opening of “His Girl Friday.”

Trinity, in a wave of Irene empathy, says it wants to counter a likely barrage of negative associations: “Irene ruined my porch! Irene made me cancel my trip to Block Island! That blasted IRENE made the Sox reschedule.”

Atlantic City’s 11 casinos are expected to close this afternoon — just the third time in the 33-year history of legalized gambling in New Jersey that the gambling halls would be shuttered, according to the Associated Press. Gamblers and residents boarded buses today to flee Atlantic City as Hurricane Irene barreled down. Mandatory evacuations in Cape May County, the state’s southernmost region, were to begin at 8 a.m. ET. Read the full article over at

With New York, New Jersey and Connecticut all under states of emergency, the reality of Hurricane Irene’s looming impact is starting to hit home for most tri-state residents. The Journal’s Metropolis blog has a rundown of what to expect.

Rain began falling along the coasts of North and South Carolina as Irene trudged toward the coast from the Bahamas.

Swells from the hurricane and 6 to 9-foot waves were showing up in North Carolina’s Outer Banks early Friday and winds were expected to begin picking up later in the day, said Hal Austin, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

The White House says President Barack Obama will make a statement Friday on Hurricane Irene from his vacation rental on Martha’s Vineyard.

Experts say that it’s a good idea in general to have a “go bag” of vital papers and other supplies ready if you need to leave home — fast — in any emergency situation. SmartMoney has a list of what to pack.

Much of the damage typically caused by hurricanes isn’t covered by insurance policies. SmartMoney has a rundown of what homeowners can expect.

Budget carrier JetBlue Airways Corp. canceled 434 weekend flights in New England and New York, becoming the first U.S. carrier to shut down service in the Northeast in anticipation of Hurricane Irene, according to, a website which tracks flights. Read the full article.

As Hurricane Irene bears down on the East Coast, New York City residents are preparing for for a possible storm surge. Here’s a map showing risk levels in the five boroughs.

The Bahamas National Emergency Management Agency said there were reports that 90 percent of homes in parts of southeastern islands were completely destroyed. See video.

Photo: A woman carries her belongings in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene in Nassau, Bahamas. (Credit: Associated Press)

New York City’s government website — a platform Mayor Michael Bloomberg has strongly encouraged the public to use for information about Hurricane Irene — has crashed amid overwhelming volume, city officials confirmed Friday morning. Continue reading on Metropolis.

Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. said Friday it is gearing up for 500,000 or more customers to lose power because of destruction caused by Hurricane Irene, warning that some outages could begin as early as Saturday afternoon and last for “several days.” But the power company, which provides electricity to more than 1.2 million customers, said it expects to have 3,700 personnel on hand to help out with power restoration, including 850 out-of-state and contract linemen, tree personnel and support staff who will arrive Friday or Saturday in advance of the storm’s full impact. The company said it has requested an additional 200 workers to repair overhead powerlines.

The nation’s biggest bank by assets and deposits has its headquarters in Charlotte, N.C. and major operations spanning the eastern seaboard up to New York and Boston. Dotting the Atlantic Coast are some 1,200 banking centers, more than 20% of the bank’s 5,742 nationwide locations. Continue reading on Deal Journal.

Residents in the Washington D.C. area girding for the arrival of Hurricane Irene could face power outages that may take days to fix, power company Pepco told customers Friday morning.

Pepco, which provides power to nearly 800,000 residents in the D.C. area, sent automated messages to customer phones Friday outlining its preparations for the storm, which could hit the mid-Atlantic region over the weekend. The company said it was marshalling resources in advance of any power outages but warned full restoration of power to the area could take days.

“Irene is a large and powerful Hurricane and we need our customers to know in advance that it could result in extended power outages,” Pepco Region President Thomas Graham said in a press release on the company’s website.

All Broadway shows for the weekend are currently set to play as scheduled, according to a statement posted Friday by the Broadway League, the industry’s trade association.

But the looming threat from Hurricane Irene has prompted the Metropolitan Opera to delay the start of its Summer HD Festival. Read more at WSJ’s Metropolis blog.

You’ve stocked up on flashlight batteries and boarded up the windows in preparation for Hurricane Irene’s arrival. Now consider this: what in the heck are you going to eat if the power is off for days? For answers, go to Health Blog.

New York City cabs may be completely off the roads during the height of the hurricane, city officials warned Friday morning. Continue reading on Metropolis.

President Barack Obama urged Americans who are in the path of Hurricane Irene to prepare for a “dangerous and costly storm.” Watch the video.

“All indications point to this being a historic hurricane,” Mr. Obama said in a statement Friday from the Martha’s Vineyard estate where he is vacationing this week.

Mr. Obama was updated on the hurricane Friday morning by FEMA Administrator Craig Fugateand Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. He said he spoke with governors and mayors from the potentially impacted areas along the East Coast.

“I cannot stress this highly enough: If you are in the projected path of this hurricane, you have to take precautions now,” Mr. Obama said. “We all hope for the best. But we have to be prepared for the worst.” Continue reading on Washington Wire.

Federal officials warned on Friday that the East Coast has little time left to prepare for Hurricane Irene, as they storm’s first effects were set to hit the Carolinas within hours.

“The window for preparation is quickly closing,” Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told reporters.

The hurricane is set to hit North Carolina on Saturday, “but the early onset of tropical storm conditions along the coast of the Carolinas will begin this afternoon,” said Bill Read, the director of the National Hurricane Center.

Hurricane warnings are in effect from the North Carolina and South Carolina border as far north as the Merrimack River in New England.

Large swaths of the East Coast are forecast to experience five to 10 inches of rain. Winds are expected to topple trees and branches, taking down power lines and causing power outages.

“It’s going to be a huge geographical area with lots of people impacted,” said American Red Cross Chief Executive Gail McGovern. “This could take weeks-maybe even months-to be able to respond to.”

She said that the group is sending more than 200 emergency-response vehicles to the East Coast, along with 60,000 ready-to-eat meals to Richmond and another 60,000 to Massachusetts. Working with other groups, the American Red Cross said it expects to be able to serve 250,000 meals a day initially and as many as one million a day if necessary.

By 5 p.m. Friday emergency officials expect to have evacuated as many as 150,000 people from the resort town of Ocean City, Maryland – the first time the city had been entirely evacuated for a storm since Hurricane Gloria hit in 1985. Only emergency personnel and a handful of people refusing to leave will remain.

Brent Ashley, an Ocean City councilman who was staying in the city as part of the emergency team, was watching police go door-to-door Friday from his home window when he spoke with the Journal. If people choose not to leave, they are required to sign a form providing next of kin and acknowledging that during the storm emergency crews would not rescue them, he said.

Most people heeded the evacuation order and traffic leaving the city was heavy Thursday and Friday. Gas stations in the area were running out of gasoline, Mr. Ashley said.

Only about 7,000 residents live in the city off-season, but during the summer the popular destination for mid-Atlantic vacationers swells to 125,000 to 150,000.

When Hurricane Gloria hit the city in 1985, it damaged large parts of the, said Mr. Ashley, 60 years old.

Donna Abbott, spokeswoman for Ocean City, said her son, Ryan, was supposed to be married on the beach Saturday. Now the family “was on I think it’s plan C or D” and the couple will be married in Berlin, Maryland, about eight miles inland, she said.

Elsewhere along Maryland’s waterfront, officials of Wicomico County, on the Eastern Shore, declared an emergency in anticipation of Irene and ordered the evacuation of parts of the county near the Nanticoke and Wicomico rivers. Flooding of up to five feet in some areas plus the high winds and storms, could make emergency evacuation dangerous, said County Executive Richard Pollitt, Jr. He ordered the evacuations as a precaution, he said.

Residents ordered to evacuate have until 4 p.m. Saturday to leave. Wicomico County, with Salisbury as its county seat, has about 99,000 residents. It is not clear how many will be effected by the evacuation order. Wicomico joins other counties in ordered evacuations and other measures in anticipation of Irene.

Trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange is unlikely to be affected by Hurricane Irene, barreling up the East Coast. The exchange’s servers for its Globex electronic-trading platform are located in Aurora, Ill., well clear of Irene’s path. Meanwhile, workers on the Nymex floor say they’ve been told that floor trading is scheduled to start as usual Monday. One floor clerk says an exchange official told him Nymex doors will open “unless there’s boats by the front door.” The exchange is located near on the waterfront near Manhattan’s Battery Park. Nymex crude trades down 73c to $84.57/bbl.

People across Connecticut should plan to be in a safe place and complete all travel plans by midnight Saturday, Gov. Dannel Malloy said in a news conference Friday.

“To be out of one’s safe place beyond that hour simply doesn’t make sense,” Malloy said. “Anything bad that’s going to happen is going to happen after 12 midnight, though we may move that up or down depending on the circumstances.”

Power outages and flooding are the state’s biggest concerns, the governor said. Read more about the state’s emergency plans at WSJ’s Metropolis blog.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said President Barack Obama told his staff he wants to return to Washington ahead of schedule to deal with Hurricane Irene. First Lady Michelle Obama and their daughters, Sasha and Malia, will stay on Martha’s Vineyard until Saturday.

Experts weigh in on whether your home can withstand these rare threats, and if you should spring for more insurance.

President Barack Obama urged residents of the eastern US in the path of Hurricane Irene to “take precautions now” in advance of what he said is likely to be a “historic” storm, and obey any evacuation orders. See video.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo says major bridges and the state Thruway will close if Hurricane Irene brings winds over 60 mph.

Cuomo lists more than a half-dozen bridges in New York City and the lower Hudson Valley that would close to all traffic with sustained winds at that speed, including the George Washington and Tappan Zee that carry traffic to and from the city.

National Guard units will deploy up to 900 personnel and more than 100 vehicles to help civilian authorities. Troops have begun to reporting.

The Long Island Power Authority plans to have 2,500 line workers and tree cutting personnel available through the weekend.

New Jersey Transit trains will stop running at noon Saturday because of Hurricane Irene. Gov. Chris Christie made the announcement during a briefing on the storm Friday.

The New York region’s mass transit system will shut down at noon on Saturday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Friday.

The shutdown will include all of the transit services operated by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. It includes subways, buses and the nation’s two largest commuter railroads.

Bridges and the New York State Thruway could also close if sustained winds reach above 60 miles per hour, Cuomo said.

Mass transit in Philadelphia and beyond to the suburbs will be shut down early Sunday morning because of anticipation of strong winds and copious rain from Hurricane Irene.

Mayor Michael Nutter said Friday that SEPTA, the mass transit agency that provides bus and rail service in Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties, will cease operations at 12:30 a.m.

Seven regional rail lines are set to stop operating on Saturday afternoon because Amtrak is also canceling service.

At the World Trade Center construction site in Lower Manhattan, crews were readying 10 tower cranes for high winds.

“We are not concerned about flood risk,” said Chris Ward, executive director of Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns the site. “We are concerned about high winds, as it relates to the tower cranes in particular.”

The cranes, some of which are being used to build 1 World Trade Center, will be either secured with cables or left to swing free depending on their location, Ward said. The tower is 90 stories high and is on its way to becoming the tallest building in New York City.

Letting cranes swing “like a boat on a mooring” sometimes makes damage less likely, Ward said, because it reduces torque that would result from cranes being tied down.

Workers are also looking at whether they need to secure trees at the September 11 memorial on the site. That memorial scheduled to be ready for visitors in two weeks, on the 10th anniversary of the 2001 terrorist attacks.

Photo: Construction workers dismantled a crane at the World Trade Center site on Friday. (Credit: Associated Press)

As Hurricane Irene approaches the North Carolina coastline, piers on the state’s Outer Bank may be hours away from falling into the sea. WSJ’s Valerie Bauerlein visits a 50-year-old pier that locals are afraid the giant storm will soon take from them. See video.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie issued a stark warning to those on New Jersey’s barrier islands Friday: “You stay there at the risk of your life,” he said at a press conference.

Numerous highways and bridges running from beach resort towns to the mainland would start flowing only westbound later today, he said. He said people shouldn’t follow the lead of “dopes” he saw interviewed on TV who wanted to ride out the storm on the low-lying islands. Read the full article on Metropolis.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has issued a mandatory evacuation of all Zone A low-lying areas in New York City, a move he described at a press conference Friday as unprecedented.

Earlier Friday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that the entire mass-transit system serving the city would be shut down at noon Saturday.

New York City’s websites have been crashing under traffic from residents seeking information. Below, see the map of the city’s evacuation zones.

Trains and buses in the Washington D.C. area will run as normal this weekend, with no planned changes to service plans despite the impending weather problems expected from Hurricane Irene, a spokesman for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority said Friday afternoon.

There are no planned system-wide changes based on current national weather service projections for the path of the storm, the spokesman said. Metro officials “may make adjustments based on conditions” as the storm develops, the spokesman said.

A NASA satellite captured a stunning full-scale image of Earth at 10:45 a.m, ET on Friday morning. Hurricane Irene can be seen prominently from space.

Click here for the original (massively sized) image as posted on Flickr. Click here for a more moderately sized image.

British Airways said it was starting to cancel transatlantic flights to the U.S. East Coast, with other overseas carriers set to follow as Hurricane Irene nears landfall over the weekend.

The U.K. carrier has cancelled some flights set to leave for the U.S. on Sunday, and is reviewing those due to depart later on Saturday.

U.S. airlines have already cancelled hundreds of domestic and international flights, while overseas carriers also have to contend with the potential impact of new airport tarmac delays legislation that came into force this week.

Overseas carriers face a fine of $27,500 for each passenger stuck on planes for more than four hours. The transportation department said it had discretion about enforcing the new rules in the event of, for example, bad weather; domestic carriers are subject to a three-hour limit.

Deutsche Lufthansa AG which ranks alongside BA as one of the largest carriers of transatlantic passengers, said on its website that the potential impact of Irene on operations was “vague”.

President Barack Obama will now be joined by First Lady Michelle Obama and their daughters, Sasha and Malia, when he leaves Martha’s Vineyard Friday night to return to Washington. Earlier, the White House said Mrs. Obama and the girls had planned to stay until Saturday.

Irene is disrupting weddings, parties and other events on Long Island, including the Hampton Classic, a week-long equestrian competition that typically draws 1,600 horses and 40,000-50,000 people, according to its organizers. Opening ceremonies were set for Sunday, but were pushed back to Wednesday. “All of the stalls and tents are beign taken down as we speak,” says Shanette Cohen, the event’s executive director. Steve Levy, executive of Suffolk County, which includes the Hamptons, is expected at a press conference at 3 p.m. today to announce details of mandatory evacuation plans for low-lying flood prone areas, which should begin at 8 a.m. tomorrow.

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick declared a state of emergency and activated 500 National Guard troops Friday in preparation for a statewide hit from “a powerful and potentially dangerous” Hurricane Irene this weekend.

The most populous New England state is bracing for major flooding to the west of the storm and hurricane-force winds to the east, with the rain kicking in late Saturday and Irene worst effects coming Sunday, Patrick said. The state, which hasn’t endured such a storm in 20 years since Hurricane Bob hammered the region, is also readying for storm surges and riptides in coastal areas.

“We have a very clear sense as of right now of what is coming, and we are ready for it,” Patrick said at a news conference Friday.

He plans to call up an additional 2,000 National Guard troops on Saturday morning and is already seeking a disaster declaration ahead of the storm from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. That declaration is intended to create access to federal assistance before Irene’s arrival and ensure a quick response afterward.

Clothing and home-supplies retailers as well as grocery stores and restaurants are hunkering down for Irene, which hits the Eastern Seaboard on one of the busiest buying weekends of the summer. At malls and big-box retailers, the storm comes as back-to-school shopping is still in full swing in areas in the storm’s path.

“You’re probably talking hundreds of millions of dollars in sales lost” by all types of retailers, said Bruce Cohen, strategist at Kurt Salmon. “People are still doing back-to-school. It is also a critical weekend before Labor Day.”

The storm will affect same-store sales for August and September, and will likely give a boost to online retailers.

Retailers “up and down the East Coast are preparing for damage to stores and malls,” said Joe LaRocca, head of loss prevention for the National Retail Federation. “Some are boarding up windows, and they are stocking shelves and keeping employees informed as things progress.”

New York’s mass transit system will start to shut down at noon on Saturday, but people reliant on it should start moving sooner, Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairman Jay Walder said.

Buses will likely run a little bit past noon to help with evacuations, Walder said. Some routes might also be altered slightly to take people to shelters.

The shutdown will help the MTA get service up quicker than it would if it didn’t stop service. But it could be a long time after the storm passes before the system is running at its full capacity.

Many of the MTA’s train yards and bus depots are in low-lying areas like Coney Island and Far Rockaway that could end up under water, Walder said. To keep equipment from getting swamped, workers will move trains from the yards and park them on tracks in safer places. That’s part of why service is being shut down so early, Walder said.

Even with those precautionary steps, the MTA will likely have a hard time getting service going again in certain places. There are 13 underwater subway tunnels, but only three trains that can pump them out, Walder said. Overhead wires on Metro-North’s New Haven line are also a likely trouble spot, he said.

Residents in  Morehead City, NC, pop. 8,661, were buying last-minute supplies and battening down Friday afternoon as a heavy rain blanketed this coastal town ahead of Irene’s arrival.

“People are stocking up on everything: water, ice, chips, videos, propane tanks for the grill,” said Delores Coleman, a busy “greeter” at a 24-hour Walmart that was shutting its doors at 5:30 p.m. and staying closed until Sunday because of the storm.

Krishna Rajeev, a 26-year-old business management graduate, made a final run to buy two more water jugs and some bread and cookies that he plans to share with Zeus, his three-year-old Husky dog.

Mr. Rajeev said he moved here from Iowa three weeks ago and was planning to stay put this weekend, despite a hurricane warning for the area.

“I’m putting my furniture on cinderblocks, just in case,” said Mr. Rajeev, who lives in a ground-floor condominium about two miles from the ocean.

Ms. Coleman, a local resident since 1993, said she and her husband also were planning “to ride it out,” despite their house being only a block from the water.

The many shipwreck sites off North Carolina’s coast likely will be transformed by Hurricane Irene, with ocean surges depositing tons of sand on some sites and exposing others as never before. Some will be damaged, experts say.

“I’ve seen dramatic changes in the shipwrecks that I dive due to storm damage,” said Dave Sommers, 58 years old, a diving charter operator based in Hatteras Village, who has been diving for three decades.

Most of the wrecks that he explorers with divers are from World War II and he said he has been amazed at what storms can do to the metal ships.

One tanker, the British Splendour, sunk in 1942, landed upside down at a depth of about 110 feet. Storms ripped open the hull in recent years blowing out sand and creating a habitat for fish, Mr. Sommers said.

Mr. Sommers, now set to ride out the storm on his boat docked inland from the coast, said he cancelled any weekend charters but hopes to be back in business the next weekend.

He has dived in the past at depths of 140 feet, he said, and felt surge from storms still hundreds of miles away. Shipwrecks he visits, from the middle of the last century and earlier, were a direct result of previous major storms, he said.

Jim Jobling, an underwater archeologist and conservation expert at Texas A&M University’s Center for Maritime Archeology and Conservation, said wrecks covered by large amounts of sand will be preserved longer, but other wrecks exposed by the surging ocean “will deteriorate faster.”

There is nothing an archeological team can do to protect a site from such storms, he said. Wrecks less than 30 feet in depth will suffer much more damage than those in deeper waters, he said.

“The sea is a tremendous strong force and you are not going to put a wall about a wreck to look after it.”

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has issued a mandatory evacuation of all Zone A low-lying areas in New York City because of Hurricane Irene. “If you want to be safe, now is the time to start moving,” the mayor said. See video.

A cursory look at the routine “Week Ahead” research notes that Wall Street economists and analysts released for their bond and currency-trading clients Friday could leave the impression that they’re not watching the news. In sections titled “What to Look For” and the “Coming Events,” the reports carry  the usual indictor calendar — Tuesday’s consumer confidence report, Thursday’s Institute of Supply Management report on the manufacturing sector, and of course Friday’s jobs report – and highlight a Tuesday speech by Minneapolis Fed President Narayana Kocherlakota. But there appears to be no word in any of them about the very real possibility that a massive hurricane will slam into the world’s most important financial city on Sunday.

Maine Gov. Paul LePage declared a statewide emergency Friday so local governments and state agencies can prepare for the storm expected to sweep over the state Sunday and Monday.

Storm models by the National Hurricane Center predict that after Irene hits Maine, it will pass through two Canadian provinces and out into the North Atlantic by Tuesday.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg ordered the mandatory evacuation of New York City’s “Zone A” low-lying areas and the entire Rockaways section of Queens by 5 p.m. Saturday, an unprecedented move that will send a quarter million people in search of higher ground.

“We’ve never done a mandatory evacuation before. And we wouldn’t be doing it now if we didn’t think this storm had the potential to be very serious,” Bloomberg said. “The best outcome would be if the storm veers off to the east and doesn’t hit us, or doesn’t hit us hard. But we can’t depend on Mother Nature being so kind. We have to prepare for the worst and hope for the best.” Continue reading on Metropolis.

U.S. and international airlines started canceling flights to and from New England, New York and Washington on Friday, marking the beginning of what was expected to be a widespread service shut down along the Eastern seaboard until Hurricane Irene passes.

So far, more than 2,000 flights have been canceled through the weekend because of the storms, but that number is expected to grow as airlines firm up their plans, according to, a website that tracks flights. Read the full article.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy says no more buses in Suffolk County starting 8pm Saturday. He also warns retailers and wholesalers looking to capitalize on hurricane-related shortages: “You better not be price-gouging, because we’re going to come down on you very hard, very heavy.”

At least two large regional hospitals on Long Island — Good Samaritan in West Islip and Southside Hospital in Bay Shore — will be closed. Mandatory evacuations to begin in low-lying areas tomorrow morning. Local volunteer firefighters will go door to door, asking residents to leave.

Meanwhile, some resorts in Montauk are expecting big losses from Irene, as guests stay at home and cancel their vacation plans. At the tony Panoramic View Resort and Residences, where rooms cost about $500 per night, staff is storing away outdoor furniture and guests with reservations are being told not to come this weekend. In return, the resort is offering credits for future stay and refunds that could run into the tens of thousands of dollars, according to general manager Harvey O’Brien.

“The last week of August is a big money make from us, usually. It’s a financial hit, but the goodwill we create by doing this, might make people come back and join us for September or October,” Mr. O’Brien said. “We could be hard-asses and say, ‘We’re not going to give you your money back,’ but that’s bad business.”

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta sent an all-hands message Friday to troops and their families: Get ready for Hurricane Irene.

“I can’t say it strongly enough,” he said in a statement posted on the department’s website. “I want all military and civilian members of this department to ensure they are prepared for Hurricane Irene.”

Mr. Panetta said he had directed U.S. Northern Command, the headquarters based in Colorado Springs, Colo., that supervises homeland defense, to lend support to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Three military bases on the East Coast — Fort Bragg, N.C., Joint Base McGuire – Dix – Lakehurst, N.J., and Westover Air Reserve Base, Mass., — have been designated as FEMA “incident support” bases for positioning emergency supplies.

The military has already parked 225 trucks loaded with water, food, generators and other emergency equipment at Fort Bragg. Supplies and equipment are on the way to the other two locations.

The Pentagon has already moved key equipment out of the path of the storm. The Navy Thursday sent ships out to sea to weather the storm; National Guard aircraft stationed in Puerto Rico flew to Florida earlier this week to get out of the way of Irene.

On the outer stretch of Massachusetts’s Cape Cod, residents and tourists were making preparations Friday for Irene, albeit at a vacation pace. The sky was cloudless blue and temperatures topped 80 degrees.

At pool in the Harbor Hotel in Provincetown, frequented by locals and tourists, children splashed on the shallow end while parents discussed preparations from their sun chairs.

“We’re going to enjoy the beach today,” said Patti Berkowitz, while browsing an 8-foot table of hurricane supplies at Conwell Enterprises, a hardware store nearby. Ms. Berkowitz, a Merrick, N.Y. resident who was visiting the outer Cape with her husband and teenage children for the weekend, said their plans were now in disarray. “Our big dilemma is, do we go back to Long Island just to be evacuated,” she said.

There were no big lines at Conwell on Friday, though the store was out of D-size batteries, and signs around the shop read “HURRICAINE SUPPLIES ARE NON-RETURNABLE.”

“Everything’s flying off the shelves,” said general manager Andy Fingado. Sales of hurricane-related supplies –such as masking tape, tarps and candles — have gone up roughly 40% above normal levels, Mr. Fingado said.

Slightly to the south, in Truro, real estate agent Jessica Smart said some owners of tourist rental houses had asked tenants to delay their arrival until Monday, after the storm, so they could batten down their properties. For tenants already on theCape, Ms. Smart was making phone calls Friday to walk them through preparations, including filling bathtubs with water and taking in outdoor furniture.

“I had one tenant I called who said, “‘We were here for Bob,” Ms Smart said. “‘ We know what we’re doing.'”

New Jersey governor says about half of the garden state parkway will be closed to traffic as the state prepares to be hit by Hurricane Irene. See video.

President Barack Obama held a conference call Friday morning with a dozen governors and mayors of cities and states in Hurricane Irene’s path, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said.

During the call, Mr. Obama “underscored the importance of coordination between the federal government and local and state officials,” Mr. Earnest said.

Participants on the call included: Govs. Bev Perdue of North Carolina, Chris Christie of New Jersey, Andrew Cuomo of New York, Jack Markell of Delaware, Bob McDonnell of Virginia, Martin O’Malley of Maryland, and Deval Patrick of Massachusetts along with Mayors Michael Bloomberg of New York, Paul Fraim of Norfolk, Va., Vincent Gray of Washington, D.C., Michael Nutter of Philadelphia, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake of Baltimore, and Will Sessoms from Virginia Beach, Va.

Greater New York could see winds as high as 90 mph on Sunday morning, the fiercest gusts predicted outside of eastern Virginia and North Carolina, said Brian Miretzky, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service’s Eastern region.By Sunday morning, New York, Long Island and the Jersey Shore could see winds between 70 mph to 90 mph. Winds should kick up to 45 mph by late Saturday night and dip no lower than that until 5 p.m. Sunday, Mr. Miretzky said.The Washington D.C.-metropolitan area should also sustain 45 mph winds or higher from 6 p.m. Saturday until Sunday morning, Mr. Miretzky said. The strongest winds over the weekend are predicted to be in the northern North Carolina outer banks, with wind speeds eclipsing 100 mph.

Photo: Michael Curcio sets up wood boards to protect his house at Rockway Beach. (Agence France-Presse/Getty Images)

Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy asked President Barack Obama to declare a pre-landfall emergency Friday, a status that would allow the governor to request federal funding and other assistance in advance of Hurricane Irene.

“Hurricane Irene is a serious threat to our state, and this declaration will allow us to request federal funding and other assistance in Connecticut in advance of the storm,” Malloy said. “As the hours go by, we are more and more certain that Hurricane Irene will have either a direct or substantial impact on our state, and I’m not willing to wait until afterward to ask the federal government for help. The best case scenario is that we don’t end up needing this — the worst case scenario is we do, and it’s too late to begin to ask.”

Chilean flagship carrier LAN Airlines SA will cancel Saturday flights between New York City and Guayaquil, Ecuador, and may cancel more flights for Sunday as Hurricane Irene barrels its way up the U.S. eastern coast.

Other carriers, such as British Airways, also started canceling flights to the U.S. East Coast, with other overseas carriers set to follow, ahead of Hurricane Irene.

“As a precaution, LAN has canceled its New York-Guayaquil and Guayaquil-New York flights for Saturday,” said a company spokeswoman.

Additionally, LAN will push forward by several hours its New York-Lima-Santiago and New York-direct-to-Santiago flights on Saturday.

As Hurricane Irene was bearing down on North Carolina Friday, commercial fishermen on the Outer Banks were securing their boats to ride out the storm.

New Jersey’s Public Service Electric and Gas Co. said Friday it is bracing for significant equipment damage and electricity and natural-gas outages possibly lasting for weeks in the wake of Hurricane Irene.

The company, a regulated gas and electric utility serving New Jersey, said that it will deploy 6,000 employees to restore service after the hurricane’s passage. Full restoration of service could take between one and three weeks, the company said in a statement.

The company said that in addition to “widespread electric outages,” water stemming from heavy rain and an anticipated storm surge could enter the utility’s gas distribution system and wreck gas appliances in many homes. The utility’s crews will prioritize restoring service to hospitals, police stations, fire stations, water and sewer facilities, and communications infrastructure.

Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md., is a testing center for some of the military’s most high-end military aircraft, including the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

Doug Abbotts, a Navy spokesman, said the facility, which is around 60 miles southeast of Washington, was hurrying to “clear ramps,” parking as many aircraft as possible inside hangars, and flying others to evacuation sites.

“The number of aircraft to be flown to evacuation sites is predicated on many factors, including available hangar space, predicted storm strength, and aircraft maintenance status,” he said.

Several “fly away” aircraft, mostly larger planes, have already left for safer airfields. Mr. Abbotts said 2 E-2D airborne early warning aircraft based at Patuxent River had thus far flown to Pensacola, Fla.; four C-130 cargo planes and two P-3 maritime patrol aircraft had flown to South Carolina.; and two P-8 patrol aircraft had flown to Tinker Air Force Base, Okla.

With Hurricane Irene bearing down on New York City, government officials moved Friday to shut down the regional mass-transit system beginning at noon Saturday.

Jay Walder, head of the Metropolitan Transit Authority that runs the subways, buses and commuter trains, has already cautioned travelers against waiting for the last minute, as WSJ’s Andrew Grossman reported earlier. The final trains are expected to be overwhelmed with passengers, Walder said.

For those who want to leave New York City by rail, go to WSJ’s Metropolis blog to see a list of the last trains running Saturday on the MTA’s Metro-North and Long Island Rail Road services.

Photo: Travelers waited in line for Metro North tickets at Grand Central Station on Friday. (Reuters)

Airlines aren’t the only ones rewriting their flight schedules this week. Hurricane Irene has also derailed the itinerary of the Goodyear blimp, the airship famous for providing aerial views of sports events.

The blimp was originally scheduled to fly over a Nascar race in Bristol, Tenn. tonight. But the 192-feet-long, 55-feet-wide airship has yet to make it to Nashville, after being forced to take a western path over the Florida panhandle and through Alabama.  Heavy winds ruled out its preferred route hugging the East Coast and passing over Atlanta.

The path change added time and 200 nautical miles—and now it’s two days late. The blimp is currently en route to Nashville, Tenn., and the goal is for it to arrive in time to fly above another Nascar race in Bristol tomorrow night, said Goodyear spokesman Doug Grassian.

The trip should have taken three days. Even chugging along at its top speed of 30 mph, cruising at 1,000 feet in the sky, the blue-and-silver airship should have arrived in Bristol by Thursday, Mr. Grassian said. In fact, the blimp left a day earlier than it normally would–on Monday–for the 850-mile journey from its southern Florida warehouse in Pompano Beach.

Winds fiercer than 20 mph and thunderstorms can ground the blimp, Mr. Grassian said. With a hurricane in the forecast, Goodyear and its staff were overly cautious. “Our pilots are more meteorologists than anything,” Mr. Grassian said.

The blimp and its 20-person crew took a two-and-a-half day pit stop in Gadsden, Ala., where Goodyear has a manufacturing plant. During that time, the crew gave workers and their families a tour of the blimp, letting them go inside the six-person gondola.

Debbie Jolly said she will drive 10 miles farther inland Friday night to stay with her parents as Irene bears down on North Carolina’s coast.

Ms. Jolly, who lives about 10 miles from the Atlantic Ocean in the town of Newport,  did not think it would be smart to stay in her “double-wide,” pre-fab house.

“I’d rather be in a real house tonight,” said Ms. Jolly, who is 56 years old and works as a cashier at a Lowe’s store in Morehead City.

That includes Tim Ross, another Newport resident, who said he’s armed with a staple gun and plastic sheeting in case he needs to make emergency repairs on his home.

“If you leave and the wind punches a hole in your house, you’re not there to fix it,” said Mr. Ross, 44, who owns a local propane gas business.

Well, it’s official and hardly surprising: New York City is under a hurricane warning. To find the last time the Big Apple faced a hurricane warning, you’d need to go back more than 26 years to 1985’s Hurricane Gloria, a late September storm that ravaged parts of Long Island.

At the Metropolis Blog, WSJ’s Erik Holm recalled the 1985 hurricane as a storm that could have been worse for the region:

Gloria was far from what the experts say could be the worst-case scenario. It was a fast moving storm that lost a significant amount of power before it came ashore in our area. Gloria also struck at low tide, which helped reduce the effects of the storm surge, the wall of water that can wash ashore ahead of the hurricane.

As Holm notes, Irene looks likely to arrive close to high tide and during a new moon — a combination that could make the impact more severe. Read more in is full post.

Photo: New Yorkers line up for the checkout line at the Fairway Supermarket on the Upper East Side on Friday (Agence France-Presse/Getty Images).

Zachary Wiley boarded a train out of Bridgehampton, N.Y., on Friday afternoon less because he feared brutal weather than because he feared the human chaos it could create.

The 24-year-old recent graduate of Tulane University Law School in New Orleans said evacuations of hurricanes Katrina and Gustav left him aware “of how chaotic evacuations are and how chaotic mass movements of people are.”

“I decided to get ahead of that,” said Mr. Wiley, en route from the Long Island beach community to Boston.

With Katrina, Mr. Wiley was at first too cavalier; then at the urging of native residents, he said, he left in ample time.

With Gustav, he and his then-girlfriend left town with dog in tow a full day after officials urged evacuation.

That “goes to show you how unpredictable this all really is. The uncertainty is what’s unsettling about it.”

President Barack Obama has declared emergency status for New York state, a move that frees up federal aid to augment the response by state and local governments, according to a statement released by the White House.

Almost 73 years ago, a major hurricane, variously named the Long Island Express or the Great New England Hurricane, slammed ashore on Long Island and Connecticut with no warning, killing more than 600 and doing more than $4 billion in damage in today’s dollars. More than 93,000 families suffered major property loss, and as many as a quarter billion trees were uprooted in New England. As we endure Hurricane Irene today, it is worth contemplating the differences between then and now.

Locals packed the Grits Grill in Nags Head, N.C., on Friday morning for country ham, grits and eggs and a bit of gossip about who’s staying and who’s going in the hours before Hurricane Irene is expected to strike.

Retirees Chesley Midgett and Ronald Meekins are childhood friends, who have seen the Outer Banks boom as a tourist destination in the past 70 years. They both plan to hunker down at home, as they have through a dozen storms before.

Mr. Meekins, a former state trooper, said he has worked through many storms and is not cavalier. “This is the worst so far,” he said.

Mr. Midgett said his family hopes to keep their grocery store open as long as possible, and reopen on backup power soon after the storm. “We want to stay open as long as we can for the people,” he said.

Along the beach, red “no swimming” signs were posted at walkways and fishing piers closed. Some shops, gas stations and restaurants remained open late Friday, in spite of having already boarded the windows.

All Broadway performances have been canceled for Saturday and Sunday in New York City, due to the shutdown of the city’s mass-transit systems, the Broadway League has announced. Earlier Friday, the organization said shows would continue as planned.

As Hurricane Irene threatens to disrupt thousands of businesses on the East Coast, investors Friday didn’t miss a handful of companies whose products will be in demand during the immediate aftermath of the storm.

W.W. Grainger, North America’s largest supplier of repair and cleaning supplies for commercial businesses ended the regular trading session up 3.6% at $143.05 a share. Grainger’s branch stores usually do a bang-up business in the aftermath of hurricanes, tornadoes and floods. The Illinois-based company on Friday mobilized truck loads of supplies for its 100 East Coast stores. Generators, tarps, flashlights, chain saws, pumps, mops, buckets and other cleanup supplies typically fly off the shelves of Grainger branch stores after weather damage.

(Grainger also is one of 460 U.S. companies with employees trained by the American Red Cross to be first-responders to disasters.) Grainger competitor Fastental Co. also closed up 3.9% at $32.17 a share.

Companies that manufacture portable generators finished higher as well. Generac Holdings Inc. — which describes itself as the company home and business owners turn to when the power goes out —  climbed 4.4% to end at $20.31 a share. Small-engine maker Briggs & Stratton Corp., which also makes generators, closed up 4.4% at $15.62 a share.

Beginning at 8 p.m. Friday, New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority is suspending fares on buses throughout New York City and tolls on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, which connects Staten Island to Brooklyn.

The agency is also suspending tolls on subways and commuter rail lines in mandatory evacuation areas and on bridges to the Rockaways, a low lying peninsula that will likely be among the hardest-hit portions of New York City if Hurricane Irene continues on its current path.

The mandatory evacuations that began Friday morning in New Jersey’s Cape May County have expanded to include much of Atlantic and parts of Monmouth and Ocean counties.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie issued the evacuation orders Friday evening, describing the areas covered as those “expected to be most impacted by Hurricane Irene,” according to a statement released by his office. (At a press conference Friday, Christie put his feelings about lingerers on the Jersey Shore more bluntly: “Get the hell off the beach in Asbury Park.”)

Go to WSJ’s Metropolis blog for a full list of New Jersey’s municipalities covered by the new evacuation order.

On the night before a mandatory evacuation order took hold in Battery Park City, residents and visitors remaining in one of Manhattan’s lowest-lying neighborhoods appeared calm. Several people walked on the esplanade enjoying a warm Friday night along the Hudson River.

Vickie Hau and her boyfriend Tony Rotella, both 25 years old, were resting on a park bench after snapping photos of the Statue of Liberty and the Hudson River.

The couple, visiting New York from Cleveland, was waiting on word about the planned wedding of Ms. Hau’s cousin in New Jersey. “We think it’s still on,” she said of the Sunday event. “We plan on driving Tony’s new car” from Brooklyn.

“We think we can weather it,” said Mr. Rotella. Read more about the scene in Battery Park City at WSJ’s Metropolis blog.

In St. Michaels, Md., high up on the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake and the weekend getaway for Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney, most of the watermen have pulled their boats and shopkeepers have taped their windows or sealed them with plywood.

Towns closer to the Atlantic shore, like Ocean City, about 100 miles away, are under firm evacuation orders, but folks in St. Michaels are being more blase. Shops and restaurants along the main drag plan to close by Saturday morning, but not many residents are hitting the road.

One shopowner covered his high-end furniture store with a plywood sign reading, “GOODNIGHT, IRENE.” A ice cream shop, not to be outdone, covered its windows with the message, “No ice cream for Irene.”

On Friday evening, the Ava’s pizzeria was doing a brisk business, but the proprietors weren’t planning to fool with the storm. By 10 pm they planned to shut down, take in all the outdoor furniture, and batten down the windows.

Nadine and Nick Myrdycz plan to leave upstate New York early Saturday morning and drive to Rocky Mount, N.C., 176 miles inland, to wait out the remnants of Hurricane Irene. They have a beach house with a dozen friends reserved for a week starting Saturday, but are not sure whether they’ll get to use it.

Mr. and Mrs. Myrdycz got married on the Outer Banks last year but had to evacuate soon after because of Hurricane Earl. “The power was out before the ceremony,” she said. “I was worried about my crazy, frizzy hair.” Now she’s worried that their anniversary trip may get foiled, too. They have trip insurance but she fears she and her husband, a correctional officer in New York State, will struggle to get more days off. “It’s not the money,” she said. “It’s the time.” Still, she has been vacationing in the Outer Banks for five years and plans to keep coming back. “I love it’s how it’s not commercialized,” she said. “There are just a few grocery stores, some local mom-and-pop restaurants and some bars.”

Friday evening seemed the typical bustling night on a corner in lower Manhattan blocks from an evacuation zone. But signs of storm preparation also showed.

At Korin, a Japanese tableware and knife store on Warren Street just off of West Broadway, the white window displays were bare, except for a poster. Typical merchandise –- trays of knives and cook ware — had been cleared out to minimize any damage.

The store will be closed Saturday, said sales consultant Enyee Eng, less because of the weather Saturday than the transportation shutdown. Several employees, he said, live outside of Manhattan, in nearby Brooklyn and elsewhere.  Sunday, the expected storm and transportation limitations will likely keep the store closed as well, he said.

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – Massachusetts authorities are racing to make sure the state’s dams can withstand a violent storm.

Preparing for Irene and possible heavy rains and storm surges, Massachusetts authorities are closely scrutinizing numerous weak dams across the state, said officials from the state’s Department of Conservation and Recreation.

Some 30 of the 200 state dams monitored by the agency are in “such poor condition” that they are rated as high or significant hazards, meaning that “if there was a hurricane, there could be a significant loss of life or property if the dam fails,” SJ Port, a DCR spokeswoman said.

The agency already heavily monitors its weakest dams but is beefing that up. “Guys are going out and checking the waters – they are testing the structures with various tools and equipment,” Ms. Port said.

In an effort to prevent flooding, the agency is also lowering the elevation of the river behind the Charles River Dam in Boston and the Amelia Earhart Dam in Somerville, Mass.

KITTY HAWK, N.C.—Power company workers, hotel employees and skittish locals crowded the oceanfront Hilton Garden Inn here Friday night, replacing the usual crowd of vacationers and wedding parties.

Only 30 of the 180 rooms were empty, with guests using the indoor pool and Jacuzzi as late as 8 p.m. Two dozen people roamed the two-story hotel lobby, admiring the tropical fish in the pillar aquariums, ordering burgers and chicken sandwiches before the kitchen closed at 9 p.m. and bumming cans of beer from new friends, since the bar was not serving alcohol because of the county-wide state of emergency. Some guests said they wanted to spend as much time as they could in a cool, open space before hunkering down in their hotel rooms for as long as 12 hours, potentially without electricity or air-conditioning. The TV in the restaurant was tuned to the Nascar race at Bristol Motor Speedway, a break from reports on the weather.

It was not yet raining, but the wind was beginning to howl at 8:30 p.m. The stragglers who were watching the waves from their balconies largely retreated inside.

Five New York-area airports — including Newark-Liberty, John F. Kennedy and LaGuardia, will close to arriving flights at noon Saturday, according to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which runs the airports.

Teterboro and Stewart, two smaller airports, would also close, the authority said Friday night. Flights will still depart from the airports, but the authority said it wants to avoid stranding arriving passengers when regional mass transit shuts down at noon.

Inside the mandatory evacuation zone in effect Friday evening along parts of the N.J. coast, Mike Randolph walked his golden retriever.

The increasingly dire warnings about Hurricane Irene didn’t faze him as he swatted gnats and waved to other neighbors walking down Rosedale Ave., across the bay from Margate, N.J. In Southern New Jersey the full force of Irene was still more than a day away.

It was humid, and Randolph stood in the late-evening sunlight talking with neighbors a couple hundred yards from Skulls Bay. At the end of the street, above the tall marsh grass, flickered the lights of Atlantic City.

Instead of heeding warnings from Atlantic County officials, Randolph and his two dogs plan to hunker down and ride out the storm. On Thursday, he purchased an $800 generator from Lowe’s. He stocked up on water and food, and plans to secure his shutters Saturday morning.

“I lived through hurricanes during my days in Key Largo,” he said, including Hurricane Andrew in 1992. For the past 45 years he’s split his time between Florida and the N.J. coast. He graduated from Ocean City High School and went to college in Miamii. His T-shirt said “Miami” in the unmistakable green and orange of the University of Miami Hurricanes.

If Irene was forecast to hit as a Category 3 storm, Randolph would have left. “A Category 2 is borderline,” he said. Forecasts are calling for Irene to strike the New Jersey coastline as a Category 1 storm late Saturday evening. That’s something Randolph thinks he can handle.

“The last thing that I want to do is encumber the rest of the neighborhood,” he said. “It’s up to us and we shouldn’t expect help” from local officials.

The shutters on his house are thick and painted light blue, with small cutouts in the shape of pine trees. He’s not worried about flooding despite the short distance between his house and the bay. The main issue, he said, is the trees, and whether the hurricane-force winds expected early Sunday morning will topple them.

“Some of them are 100 years old,” said Randolph as he showed off the three giants in his backyard.

As the Hurricane Irene approaches North Carolina, a group of Atlantic Beach residents is refusing to evacuate. They’re riding out the storm at a local bar. WSJ’s Mike Esterl reports. Watch the video. >>

ATLANTIC BEACH, N.C. — The beer was still flowing at Tackle Box Tavern here early Friday night,  even as the ocean’s surf crashed violently on the sand a couple hundred feet away and Hurricane Irene began its approach.

A small group of local residents on this barrier island halfway up North Carolina’s coast kept ordering drinks until 8 pm, when bar owner Jimmy Butts reminded them he had to close up because the town had decreed a special storm curfew.

Instead of taking the bridge from Bogue Banks to the mainland as the rain grew heavier and the wind turned stronger, the small group headed to their homes on this sliver of an island.

Some locals here were emboldened by news that Irene had been downgraded to a Category 2 hurricane, its winds expected to slip below 100 miles per hour when it makes landfall, quite possibly here on Saturday.

“It’s not going to be that bad,” predicted Raymond “Rusty” Cutshaw, who is 63 years old and ran an office supply business for many years.

Mr. Cutshaw said he moved to Atlantic Beach in the 1970s and has weathered several hurricanes in his island house, which is 18 feet above sea level, not including its 12-foot-high stilts.

He even convinced his girlfriend, Lynn Carter, to drive down from Raleigh, a couple hours’ drive inland, and spend the storm with him.

Mr. Butts, the bar owner and a lifelong area resident, also is spending the night in his island house.

He said the worst hurricane he experienced was as an eight-year-old, when Hazel slammed into North Carolina in 1954. The Category 4 storm nearly took down his parents’ home in nearby Morehead City.

“Our porch was hanging over a cliff,” after Hazel’s force washed out much of the soil around the house, recalled Mr. Butts, who is now 65 years old.

“The worst thing is the following day, after the storm, when there’s no power and you’re sitting in your house and it’s 90 degrees,” said Mr. Butts.

The giant supermarket in the Tribeca neighborhood of Lower Manhattan planned to stay open until 9 a.m. Saturday morning before closing its doors for the weekend.

Residents flocked to shop, and shelves laid bare in a store usually overflowing with a rainbow of produce and umpteen varieties of groceries. The black cloths normally hidden under strawberries, grapes and cherries were left exposed. At one point in the evening, the typical parking lot of shopping carts was empty, as each was in the arms of a customer.

There was still plenty to purchase around 10 p.m. Friday, including milk and other dairy items that would perish in a power outage. And there were even some groceries. Rice cakes? Yes, in apple-cinnamon and other odd varieties. Salsa? How about peach-mango flavor.

“I can’t believe we’re out of salsa!” said Joshua Williams, the shift leader, when told about the comment. Williams said he’s been at the Tribeca location for more than two years and had never seen anything like what descended upon the store Friday, even at Christmas and Thanksgiving. Read more at WSJ’s Metropolis blog.

The National Weather Service has posted a map showing the storm surge probabilities for Hurricane Irene.

President Barack Obama arrived at Andrews Air Force Base after shortening his vacation on the Massachusetts island of Martha’s Vineyard because of Hurricane Irene.

Obama had planned to return to the White House on Saturday. A spokesman says the president decided Friday morning to cut his vacation short because he wanted to be at the White House when the Category 2 storm makes landfall. Irene was expected to hit North Carolina on Saturday.

Before leaving Martha’s Vineyard, Obama urged millions of people in Irene’s path to obey instructions from their state and local officials, including orders to evacuate if told to do so.

Obama, first lady Michelle Obama and daughters Malia and Sasha had been on the island getaway off Massachusetts since Aug. 18.

Georgetown, Del. –By Thursday afternoon, nearly all the guests set to stay at the Brick Hotel, about 15 miles inland from Delaware’s 25 miles of beaches, had called to cancel travel plans for the second-to last weekend of the official summer season here.

Owners Lynn and Ed Lester said what was supposed to be a busy weekend had suddenly turned quiet, with nearly all 14 rooms at this charming inn set to be empty due to the threat of Hurricane Irene.

But within hours, the tide had turned and the couple suddenly went into “action-mode” to prepare for an onslaught of new guests.

Shortly after Delaware’s Gov.  Jack Markell declared a state of emergency and ordered people along the coastal areas to evacuate their homes, Ms. Lester said her phone started ringing. Soon enough, all three stories of the quaint inn were booked by residents and beachgoers in nearby Lewes, Rehoboth, Dewey and Bethany Beaches.

The Lesters and their staff spent the day Friday stocking up on water, dry food and board games. They had brought in most of the patio furniture and already planned the dinner menu for the guests. Sending their staff home to care for their animals and children, Mr. Lester tended bar.

“I’m not a worrier, but I do want to be prepared,” Ms. Lester said around 10 p.m., standing outside on the second-floor terrace of the three-story brick hotel, which dates back to the Civil War era and overlooks the town’s court.

In the 1950s, the building was occupied by the Wilmington Trust Company until the Lester’s bought and restored the property, reopening it as an Inn and Tavern in late 2008.

Nearby, guests from Washington D.C. sat on white rocking chairs, enjoying what they called “truly, the calm before the storm.”

Meanwhile, thousands of drivers flooded Delaware highways, trying to get to higher land or out of the state completely by the state-set target time of 9 a.m. Saturday. By noon Saturday, Gov. Markel said the state will begin closing bridges and roadways.

Hurricane Irene remained a Category 2 storm early Saturday with maximumsustained winds of 100 miles per hour, the National Hurricane Center said.

In a 2 a.m. EDT (0600 GMT) advisory, the NHC said the center of Irene waslocated 85 miles south of Cape Lookout, N.C. The storm was moving to thenorth-northeast at 13 mph, the NHC said.

President Barack Obama has declared an emergency for the states of Virginia,Massachusetts and Connecticut, clearing the way for federal aid to supplementany state and local responses to Hurricane Irene, the White House said earlySaturday.

The president’s move authorizes federal agencies to coordinate disaster-reliefefforts and provide appropriate assistance in an effort to save lives, protectproperty and avert the threat of a catastrophe in regions affected by the storm,the White House said.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is authorized to provide equipment and resources necessary to alleviate the impact of the hurricane.

Forecasters say Hurricane Irene’s center is expected to make landfall in North Carolina in the next few hours after weakening slightly to a Category 1 storm. The storm’s outer reaches were already slamming into the coast with heavy winds and drenching rain.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami said at 0900 GMT that the enormous storm has maximum sustained winds of 90 mph (150 kph). Irene is about 35 miles (55 kilometers) south of Cape Lookout, North Carolina, and moving north-northeastward at 14 mph (22 kph).

On New York’s Staten Island, motorists who woke before dawn to prepare for the storm got an unpleasant surprise: no gas. Several stations on the border of a mandatory evacuation zone near Midland Beach had run dry after long lines the night before.

Nearby, businesses sported taped windows and a supermarket with half-empty shelves began to fill with last-minute shoppers.

Many Staten Island neighborhoods are among the areas most vulnerable to flooding in New York City, and thousands of residents in low-lying areas have been ordered to leave.

President Barack Obama has declared an emergency for the state of New Jersey,clearing the way for federal aid to supplement any state and local responses toHurricane Irene, the White House said Saturday.

The president’s move authorizes federal agencies to coordinate disaster-reliefefforts and provide appropriate assistance in an effort to save lives, protectproperty and avert the threat of a catastrophe in regions affected by the storm,the White House said.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is authorized to provide equipment andresources necessary to alleviate the impact of the hurricane.

Forecasters say Irene’s sustained hurricane-force winds have slammed into the North Carolina coast.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami said sustained winds of 80 mph were recorded near Jacksonville at 6:15 a.m. Saturday.

The Miami-based center said Irene’s outer storm bands are also dumping drenching rains in areas up and down North Carolina’s coast.

Irene is expected to continue churning its way up the U.S. East Coast through some of the most densely populated areas of the United States. Some 65 million people live in that corridor vulnerable to Irene’s slashing winds, heavy rains and battering coastal waves.

Macy’s Inc. will not open on Saturday six stores in the low lying Virginia Beach area and one in Salisbury, Md.

The retailer’s iconic Herald Square, N.Y. store will open at 9 a.m. as scheduled, with management “monitoring the situation and conditions closely,” spokesman Jim Sluzewski said.

Decisions to close other stores and subsequent reopenings will be based on circumstances and conditions at each location, Sluzewski said.

Kohl’s Corp. has “secured and waterproofed facilities” along the East Coast and had comprehensive plans to respond to what the hurricane may bring, spokeswoman Vicki Shamion said.

NEW BERN, N.C.–Winds strengthened further by 10:30 a.m. Saturday in this small river-exposed city, which was being pounded by rain about 30 miles inland from where Hurricane Irene made landfall on North Carolina’s coast.

Floodwaters hadn’t made their way into the Hilton hotel, despite being just a foot below some ground-floor rooms next to a river bank that had overflowed. And window panes were withstanding the powerful wind gusts.

But some staff rushed around with mops while others threw sheets on the floor of the lobby and other parts of the hotel, amid small roof leaks. Parts of the hotel’s parking lot were under two feet of water, partially submerging some cars. And electricity was spotty, despite back-up generators.

Dawna Ambler, a New Bern resident, said she was glad to be here after checking into the hotel Friday with her two children.

She said she was worried about how her house, about five miles farther inland, was faring because it had vinyl siding and was surrounded by “huge” pine and oak trees.

“We all know what that will do, falling on a house made of straw,” said Ms. Ambler, standing in the lobby with Laurel, 10, and Charlie, 8.

NEW BERN, N.C.–Winds were picking up and waters were rising Saturday morning in this small river-exposed city, about 30 miles inland from where Hurricane Irene made landfall on North Carolina’s coast.

Guests in ground-floor rooms of the Hilton Riverfront Hotel in New Bern were told at 8:30 a.m. to move into rooms on higher floors after water flowed over the bank of the Neuse River, about 100 feet from the hotel.

Water was lapping about one foot below ground-floor rooms after roughly half a foot of rain fell in the area overnight. The National Hurricane Center warned of potential storm surges of four to eight feet in hurricane-affected areas.

New Bern is located on a river that joins with Pamlico Sound, a large body of water separating the mainland and some of the more exposed Outer Banks islands.

The National Hurricane Center estimated winds were around 85 miles an hour when Irene made landfall at about 7:30 a.m. Saturday at Cape Lookout, slightly east of Morehead City, N.C., and south of New Bern.

Winds at landfall were less powerful than had been feared a few days ago, but authorities say there is a serious danger of flooding in hurricane-hit areras from heavy rains and storm surges that can push water inland.

Boats moored on the dock directly outside the Hilton in New Bern were holding fast, as some trees bent in the wind.

The electricity was mostly working in the hotel, partially with the help of a back-up generator. Lights were mostly on and the kitchen was open, but some elevators were shut down and air conditioning was spotty.

Hurricane-force winds Saturday were extending 90 miles from Irene, with tropical-force winds extending 260 miles, according to the Miami-based center.

Nearly 200,000 homes in North Carolina were without power as Hurricane Irene slammed into the state.

Winds of up to 80 miles per hour whipped ashore Saturday morning, ripping power lines from poles and snapping trees in half.

Hardest hit were Wilmington and Wrightsville Beach, N.C., where Progress Energy reported 190,000 customers without power. Most of those customers are residences.

Duke Energy also reported about 2,300 customers without power, mostly in Durham, N.C. SCE&G, which serves most of South Carolina, says it restored power to 2,500 customers last night.

Early Saturday, Chase bank sent email notices to customers informing them that most New York City branches will be open until 11 a.m., with some closing earlier so that employees can find their way home before the transit system shuts down.

The notice also stated that on Sunday, the 22 branches normally open would be closed because of the anticipated hurricane.

REHOBOTH BEACH, Del.–Delaware Gov.  Jack Markell said in a phone interview early Saturday morning that he will spend the day visiting shelters and getting updates at the emergency-operation center in Smyrna.

By midmorning, tracking the traffic via roadside cameras, “we know that tens of thousands of people in the coastal areas have heeded our calls to evacuate and businesses are continuing to close,” Mr. Markell said.

“We put in our orders and we’re ready to go,” Mr. Markell said. “Now, a lot depends on people complying on their own.”

While most of the tourists along Delaware’s 25 miles of beaches have left, with gas stations and other businesses closed and boarded up, many locals remain hunkered down in their homes.

“A lot of people in our neighborhood are here, they haven’t left,” said Sandy Reeves of Rehoboth Beach, who was on a last-minute run to Walmart looking for D batteries.

“Our children are driving us crazy because they want us out, which we appreciate, but we can make our own decision at this point so we want to stay at home,” she said.

As Hurricane Irene battered North Carolina’s coast on Saturday morning, campers at Rocky Neck State Park in Niantic, Conn., started rolling up their tents and packing away their supplies in preparation of the storm.

Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy announced Thursday that all state parks would close at sunset on Saturday, with campgrounds closing at noon.

Of the 150 campsites at Rocky Neck, 76 were occupied Friday night with 308 people. Park rangers reminded campers on Saturday morning that they needed to vacate the campgrounds by noon.

Kirsten Hallum, 34 years old, has been camping at the state park since Thursday and had already planned to return her home to Canton, Conn on Saturday.

Ms. Hallum works at a group home for the ARC of Farmington Valley and said that she was anxious to get back so that she could make sure that the group home was staffed and had enough supplies to last through the storm and its aftereffects.

“Everything you do for your family, someone needs to do for them,” she said. “I’m getting increasing text messages from work. Everyone is freaking out.”

Ms. Hallum said she tried to buy D batteries at the local grocery stores, hardware stores and even office supply stores, but that everywhere she went was sold out. “It’s nerve-racking,” she said. “Who would have thought the East Coast would have an earthquake and now a hurricane in the same week?”

Neftali Lopez rolled up a tent just before 9 a.m. Saturday morning as he helped his family pack up the campground as they prepared a breakfast of scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, waffles, cereal and coffee. The 23-year-old from Springfield, Mass., is leaving for boot camp in the coming weeks, and came to Rocky Neck yesterday with 22 family members and friends. The group was planning on staying until Sunday, but the time was cut short.

Mr. Lopez says that he has been tracking the storm on the radio, and wasn’t as much worried, but annoyed that he’d have to go home early.

His mother, Magda Lopez, said that her family is from Puerto Rico, and used to the storms. “It’s normal there. Everyone is in a panic here.”

Tom Millerd, of Windham, Conn., camps out at the state park every summer and said he wasn’t planning to leave until Monday but was forced to pack up and drive home early. He said it was the second year in a row that a storm cut his vacation time short, with the threat of a tropical depression shutting down the campgrounds early last year. That storm ended up blowing out to sea, he said.

On Friday night, Mr. Millerd said he and other campers had a giant bon fire, burning the last of their firewood and celebrating the storm. Mr. Millerd said that he hasn’t been following the news of the storm and wasn’t too worried, especially because he has a generator and is fairly self-sufficient with his stock of camping supplies. “There’s nothing you can do,” he said.

Lifeguard stands at the park’s beach were removed by Friday morning with lifeguards walking the beach instead, Ms. Lopez said. She said that the beach was busier than the Fourth of July, packed with visitors.

As rain started to fall at 9:45 on Saturday morning, the beach had cleared out excepting for one couple and smattering of seagulls.

As Hurricane Irene made landfall early Saturday morning, the main Marine Corps base on the East Coast hunkered down for the storm.

Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., declared a “destructive weather condition one” emergency overnight, ceasing all but essential operations. Personnel have been advised to remain indoors for the duration of the storm.

According to a news release, the base was experiencing scattered power outages, and officials in the base emergency operations center said there were also reports of downed trees.

Camp Lejeune also has hurricane shelters. Approximately 70 people are currently seeking refuge on base.

After the storm passes, the base commander may launch recovery and cleanup operations, depending on the extent of storm damage.

Two small New York-area airports will remain open Saturday, though the area’s main gateways were still set to close at noon as Hurricane Irene moves up the East Coast.

Teterboro, a key base for corporate jets, and Stewart International Airport, will stay open as long as possible, the New York Port Authority said on an operational update provided to the Federal Aviation Administration.

Newark Liberty International Airport, John F. Kennedy International Airport and La Guardia Airport will all close to scheduled passenger arrivals at noon EDT in the wake of the closure of mass transit in New York and New Jersey.

The three airports will remain open to cargo and general-aviation services–such as corporate jets–and departures will continue as long as possible, with British Airways’ flight at 6:40 p.m. EDT seen as the last departure.

The Port Authority said it wants to avoid stranding arriving passengers when regional mass transit shuts down at noon local time.

The main concern for reopening New York’s main airports is possible flooding at La Guardia, though the Port Authority said it had the staff and other resources in place for any cleanup.

Other key East Coast airports–including Dulles and Reagan National in Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Boston–remained open, and were preparing to take some flights diverted from the New York area.

Most domestic U.S. carriers announced plans to suspend operations to and from New York from Saturday through to Monday morning. United Continental Holdings Inc.  planned to cancel 2,300 flights over the weekend, while Southwest Airlines Co.  and its AirTran unit forecast dropping 700 flights.

Overseas carriers–including British Airways and Deutsche Lufthansa AG–also canceled many international services, and the FAA said the moves seemed to have prevented any potential logjam from New York-bound trans-Atlantic services having to find an alternative arrival city.

Boston, which often receives diverted trans-Atlantic flights, remain open though officials warned high winds and heavy rain forecast for Sunday could impact operations.

The doors were closed at a lower Manhattan Starbucks on Saturday morning. “Blame the weatherman. Not us,” read the sign.

A block south, another coffee spot had a different approach. The Le Pain Quotidien was serving customers; it had opened its doors about 7 a.m., an hour before its standard Saturday opening time.

“We have a lot of customers. They are happy because we are open,” said manager Sacha Lemmens. Both stores are located blocks away from an evacuation zone.

Amid news earlier this week of the impending storm, Mr. Lemmens said, his store arranged for employees who lived in Manhattan or near enough to come in. Some, he said, will leave early to get public transportation home before the noon shutdown. For others, he said, the store will pay cab fare.

A company spokesman said “Out of an abundance of caution and concern for our partners (employees) and customers we made the decision to close our stores in NYC today and tomorrow. This allows our partners to be with their families during this time.”

With the outer rainbands of Hurricane Irene already overspreading Greater New York, now is the time to look at who’s going to get hit by what weather, and when.

Everyone in the tri-state will feel this storm, with rain falling on us all. This storm is likely to drop between 6 and 12 inches of torrential rainfall, starting on Saturday morning and continuing until Sunday evening. Some spots may receive up to 15 inches.

At WSJ’s Metropolis blog, see a detailed county-by-county weather guide on what you can expect to experience from Hurricane Irene during landfall.

The rain began at about 6:40 a.m. Saturday morning in Egg Harbor Township, N.J., just west of Atlantic City, becoming steady at 9:30.

Atlantic City was under mandatory evacuation orders, and the streets were mostly barren except for police, fire and other emergency officials. The New Jersey Transit bus station was still staffed and operating buses.

About two dozen people milled around inside the station this morning a little after 9. Buses were still running to some locations, and were free of charge. There was no bus service to any areas under mandatory evacuation, which included most of the New Jersey coast, barrier islands and all of Cape May County.

On the boardwalk, news crews were setting up near Atlantic City’s Steel Pier, next to the Taj Mahal casino. Natural-gas workers inspected pipes along the casinos and the boardwalk.

The wind was starting to blow and waves were building. As of 8:45, surfers were still in the water at New Hampshire Ave.

Power might be shut off in Lower Manhattan until Monday as a precaution against storm surges expected from Hurricane Irene, Mayor Bloomberg said Saturday as rain began to fall in New York City.

“You can plan on the possibility of no power downtown,” the mayor said. Consolidated Edison Co. of New York will make the final decision about whether to cut the power in the coming hours, he said.

More than 470,000 people on Long Island are under mandatory evacuation orders, Nassau and Suffolk county officials said Saturday.

The evacuation orders cover large, populated swaths of the south shore of Long Island, as well as some parts of the north shore and the east end. Detailed information on the Nassau County evacuation areas can be found here; information about Suffolk County can be found here.

Emergency-response units along the East Coast continued moving personnel and equipment to respond to Hurricane Irene.

The Coast Guard–which has been setting port conditions and warning mariners of the approaching storm–has also moved many of its vessels and aircraft out of Irene’s direct path.  In addition, six of the service’s Disaster Assistance Response Teams, river-rescue units equipped with shallow-draft, flat-bottomed boats, are staging in areas that are expected to be hit by flood waters.

According to a Coast Guard news release, additional aircraft belonging to units from around the country are also on standby to aid in any recovery efforts. Those additional “surge” planes include MH-65 Dolphin and MH-60T Jayhawk helicopters; HC-144A Ocean Sentry reconnaissance planes, and HC-130 Hercules transport aircraft.

Virginia Task Force 1, an urban search-and-rescue team that deployed to Japan earlier this year after a devastating earthquake and tsunami, has also been activated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The task force–which has its own search-and-rescue specialists, structural engineers, medical specialists, and search dogs–is staging near Fort Bragg, N.C.

The Coast Guard and Norfolk emergency personnel rescued a couple and their cat from a sailboat Saturday morning.

The couple, who weren’t immediately identified, had apparently anchored their vessel off the beach Friday night, and had planned to avoid the storm by continuing north up the Chesapeake Bay, officials said.

A concerned citizen spotted the boat around 8 a.m. pitching violently in swells about 400 feet from the beach. Given the dangerous conditions, the Coast Guard had planned to deploy an old-fashioned method–a rope cannon–to reach them, but the surf eventually pushed the sailboat closer to land, where fire and police officers could reach it, said Coast Guard Petty Officer John Miller.

Areas hit by some of the biggest natural disasters have in many cases recouped the economic losses in the form of federal aid and insurance payments, according to data from Moody’s Analytics and the Insurance Information Institute.

Hurricane Irene is battering eastern North Carolina with maximum sustained winds of 85 miles per hour as tropical storm conditions begin to spread northward along Virginia, Maryland and Delaware, according to the 11 a.m. bulletin of the National Hurricane Center.

President Barack Obama received a briefing on Hurricane Irene Saturday morning from federal offiicials, including Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate, the White House said in a statement.

Mr. Obama, who returned to the White House Friday night after cutting short by a day his vacation on Martha’s Vineyard, held a conference call with officials at 10:30 a.m. He was updated on the intensity and likely track of the storm, as well as the federal response along the east coast.

“The president reiterated that we know that this storm’s impacts will continue to be felt throughout the weekend and that we still have work ahead of us to support potentially impacted states and communities,” the White House statement said.

Mr. Obama is likely to publicly address the storm at some point on Saturday. The White House said he will continue to be updated “as necessary” throughout the day and overnight.

Hurricane Irene so far has left an estimated 438,000 utility customers without power in North Carolina and northern Virginia as line crews begin assessing storm damage, two of the region’s largest utilities said Saturday.

Progress Energy Inc. reported around 250,000 customers without power concentrated in coastal North Carolina. Dominion Resources Inc. reported about 188,000 customers in northern North Carolina and southern Virginia without power. Complete article.

ConocoPhillips reduced operating rates at its 185,000 barrel-a-day refinery in Trainer, Pa., as a precaution.

The refinery lowered operating rates to about 145,000 barrels a day and brought in extra workers to guard against water buildup in the face of Irene, aperson familiar with the situation said Saturday. Irene has been downgraded to a Category 1 hurricane but still threatens refiners in the Northeast with heavy rains and strong winds.

ConocoPhillips spokeswoman Janet Grothe said the refinery continued to operate but declined to discuss production rates.

A little rain was not enough to dissuade dozens of Long Beach residents from enjoying the boardwalk. Bikers, some clad in raincoats, sped along the Long Island shore. Couples took pictures of the 12-foot sand dunes built to protect local homes from a possible eight-foot storm surge.

A wave that high could engulf second floor shore-line apartments, said Craig Cooper, a spokesman for the Suffolk County Red Cross. But he added that his job was to take care of people once they left their homes, not try to force them out.

In 30 seconds or less, what would you say about how Hurricane Irene is going? Whether you’re in a cozy cocoon for the weekend, or trying to hold the roof on the house, we want to see and hear about it. Submit your storm stories now.

Hurricane Irene continues to move up the East Coast after landing in North Carolina this morning and “remains a large and dangerous storm” that is expected to bring high winds, flooding and even spawn tornadoes as it moves up the coast, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano said Saturday.

“We anticipate heavy rain, potential flooding and significant power outages…all up and down the Eastern Seaboard,” Napolitano said.

Irene is currently near Cape Hatteras, N.C., and moving at about 15 miles per hour, according to National Hurricane Center Director Bill Read. The hurricane is expected to hit Norfolk, Va., soon, but the coastal city is already being hit with heavy rains and winds.

The hurricane is generating winds of up to 85 miles an hour now and Irene isn’t expected to gain strength, he said.

Hoboken, N.J., floods during a light rainfall. That’s why Mayor Dawn Zimmer has two words for her constituents as a hurricane approaches: Get out.

The city wants everyone to leave and has ordered a mandatory evacuation for anyone living on the ground floor.

The compact city of 50,005 is often described as a bowl. Some of the city is below sea level, and the steep hills of Jersey City heights and Union City to the west just make things worse.

“We don’t need any help flooding,” city spokesman Juan Melli said. “We flood all on our own.”

Hoboken used to have marshes on the west side, but they have been filled in and developed. In recent years, it has earned a reputation as a fun place for young professionals to live, with a thriving bar scene.

But things will be quieter Saturday night. When the streets get wet, the city will turn dry. Bars and restaurants are forbidden from serving alcohol after 8 p.m.

NATICK, Mass.–Idalia Eonilla had planned since last week to take her family to Cochituate State Park, a popular swimming and boating spot a few miles west of Boston, and the gray skies signaling the arrival of Hurricane Irene weren’t about to stop her.

On Saturday at 11:45 a.m., 15 minutes before the park was scheduled to shutter for the weekend, Ms. Eonilla, 28 years old, emerged from the water and joined her parents and 3-year-old son Diego at a picnic table.

“It’s not too cold,” she said of the water, as her father pulled hunks of sausage and steak off a charcoal grill, and Diego jumped up and down on top of the table.

Families like the Eonillas would normally swarm the park’s lake on a weekend afternoon in late August. “Oh jeez, between the boat ramp and the park, you’d have between 1,500 and 3,000 [visitors],” said a Massachusetts Environmental Police officer patrolling the grounds on Saturday.

But with Irene slated to hit, Ms. Eonilla and her family, who live in East Boston, were among around 20 people trying to squeeze in one last swim.

They’ve stocked up on bottled water and filled their freezer with food, she said, but aren’t worried about the storm. “We had a plan to come here,” she said. “We’ll be here the whole day.”

Moments later, a park ranger drove by in a golf cart. “The front gate is closing in three minutes!” he yelled.

East Hampton beaches were shut down and cordoned off Saturday morning, with local police and traffic-enforcement officers patrolling the waterfront and urging residents to stay away from the ocean.

“I literally just came off the beach after chasing a bunch of locals away. Some were teenagers, some were in their mid-30s,” said Bill Wilkinson, East Hampton’s town supervisor. “People want to view Mother Nature at her wildest, and unfortunately if they do that they’re putting themselves in harm’s way.”

Low-lying areas of the Hamptons, like most of Suffolk County on Eastern Long Island, have been under a voluntary evacuation order since Friday; the order became mandatory early this morning.

That means local police and volunteer fire fighters are going door to door, urging people to leave. In Westhampton, residents living south of Main Street, close to the waters of Quantuck and Moneybogue Bays, are being asked to leave.

U.S. and international airlines are canceling flights to and from New England, New York and Washington, marking the beginning of what was expected to be a widespread service shutdown along the Eastern seaboard until Hurricane Irene passes. Complete article.

Atlantic County officials are worried about the decision by the Atlantic City AtlantiCare Medical Center and the Shore Memorial Hospital not to evacuate their patients from the barrier islands, which are expected to fare the worst when Hurricane Irene hits the New Jersey coast.

At a news conference Saturday, Atlantic County Executive Dennis Levinson pointed to both hospitals as areas where local, county and state officals may need to target after the storm.

“I’m certainly not the one that made that decision,” Mr. Levinson said at the county’s emergency headquarters.

County officials spoke to representatives from the hospital Friday, providing them with weather details and other information about the storm’s impact.

Officials said they are expecting that the storm surge caused by Irene will lead to the Atlantic Ocean meeting the bay in the heart of Atlantic City.

Ron Johnson, president and chief executive of Shore Memorial, said “We made the decision we think is safest.”

It was part of the experience, riding one of the last moving subways before a historic shutdown. But in the spirit of this wing-it city, an uptown trek was just the start for one newbie New Yorker.

Astrid Mozart, a 22-year-old from France, boarded the 1 train at Christopher Street in downtown Manhattan, heading to Midtown. She was set on making a withdrawal from a bank near Bryant Park that her friend had told her would still be open.

The money is for a deposit on an apartment in Soho; Ms. Mozart moved to the city about a month ago to study business in New York.

Her aim was to get the funds, then head back south. Quickly, before the trains stopped running at noon.

Why cut it so close? She had planned to wake up at 8 a.m., but that same iPhone didn’t ring, she said. She slept until about 10:30 a.m.

While mass transit systems in New York (like the last subway train out of Coney Island, right) and Philadelphia are shutting in preparation for Hurricane Irene, another major urban transit network in the Northeast–in Boston — aims to stay open. The center of Irene is tracking to the west of New England’s largest city, toward the Springfield, Mass., area in the western part of Massachusetts, although the entire state is bracing for an impact from the huge storm.

The National Weather Service has a hurricane warning in effect for southern parts of Massachusetts and a tropical storm warning for other areas. The biggest impact should come Sunday, however, when trains already run on a lighter schedule.

“We will monitor [the] situation closely to see if there is any need to change our plan,” Joe Pesaturo, spokesman for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, said in an email Saturday. “We don’t shut down unless it is absolutely necessary.”

Boston has one of the nation’s larger mass-transit systems, replete with subways, trolleys, buses and a commuter rail network that stretches into Rhode Island. The MBTA said it’s preparing for the storm impact beginning late Saturday through Monday morning, and is deploying extra personnel and equipment throughout the system.

Atlantic County officials are opening a third shelter for residents who would like to evacuate, but warned that the period where it will be safe to leave is rapidly closing.

“There will be a period where we will not be able to help you,” said Vince Jones, Coordinator of the Atlantic County Office of Emergency Management.

Residents of Atlantic City, N.J., other parts of the barrier islands and some areas on the mainland along the coast are under a mandatory evacuation order.

This morning, the majority of Atlantic City appeared to have evacuated, though there were several residents on the streets.

His house is just a few blocks away, so he didn’t have far to carry his black duffel bag filled with clothes and other articles for his overnight stay in the closed casino.

Denise Pettus stopped in her U.S. Postal Service truck along the row of casinos lining Atlantic City’s boarwalk. The rain was only beginning to pick up, and she wasn’t dressed in a rain slicker, just the standard issue mail carrier’s uniform, along with a wide-brimmed hat draped on her back.

She’s been a mail carrier for 24 years in Atlantic City, though she lives on higher ground in nearby Egg Harbor Township.

“If we can get to a building or get to a house, we’ll be there,” she said. Ms. Pettus has 1,900 deliveries, every day, and began Saturday morning at 5:30.

A block away on the New Hampshire Ave. beach, two surfers paddled out into the building waves. The breakers looked to be about five or six feet.

“I’m thinking about it,” the elder Forkin said. He said the waves were better late yesterday though.

He runs the Atlantic City Surf School during the summer, and is a lawyer in New York in the off-season.

He and his son were still deciding whether to stay and ride out the storm, or head for higher ground.

Milford, Del. — As more than 120 residents and their pets piled into a makeshift Red Cross shelter in the gym of Milford High School here around noon, a tornado warning was issued for all of Sussex County, which includes Lewes and Rehoboth, Dewey and Bethany Beaches.

“I thought we were here for a Hurricane, now we have to worry about a tornado,”said Cindy Moore, who came into the shelter Friday night with her husband Bob, dog Samantha and cat Pudd.

The Moores, who live in eastern Pennsylvania, spend their summers in a mobile home near Rehoboth beach but said the park manager had locked the gates and kicked them out.  They didn’t want to drive 400 miles back home, so they decided to head to the shelter.

“We were going to sit it out but if that thing comes the way they’re saying, I don’t want the trailer to be blown off the blocks,” Mr. Moore said “It’s a zoo in here, hopefully we’ll be gone by Monday.”

The shelter, which opened on Friday, was already out of cots by noon on Saturday when the rain and winds picked up and families and their pets began streaming in.

“I’m happy I came earlier rather than later… I went through this during Isabel and it was just worrying constantly, you hear the wind whipping and the trailer shaking and I thought, ‘I’m not doing that again,” said Judith Miller, who came from her trailer park in Lewes at 7 p.m. with her Scottish Terrier, Mickey . “I had surgery on my knees on Thursday and they have been wonderful at the shelter, helping me bandaging my knees.”

NYSE Euronext officials declined to comment ahead of any decision by ConEd on a power shutoff in parts of New York City, but the New York Stock Exchange has a backup generator ready to go in the event electricity is lost. As of midday Saturday, exchanges were planning to open trade as per normal after the weekend.

Representatives of Nasdaq OMX Group Inc. and the New York Mercantile Exchange did not respond to requests for comment.

The International Securities Exchange, which runs one of the biggest U.S. stock-options markets out of offices down the street from the NYSE, is prepared to staff its disaster recovery site in New Jersey, where its electronic systems are housed, according to a spokeswoman.

Hurricane Irene so far has left an estimated 650,000 utility customers without power in North Carolina and northern Virginia as line crews begin assessing storm damage, two of the region’s largest utilities said Saturday. Complete article.

As heavy rain began pelting this central Massachusetts city, regulars snug inside Mrs. Mack’s Bakery peered through the ruffled curtains wondering what was to come.

“Water could be a problem,” offered Bill Miley, a 73-year-old former United Parcel Service, Inc., driver who is such a fixture at the bakery that he gets behind the counter and waits on people.

Three generations have run the bakery since it opened in 1929, and regulars call the current elderly matriarch Frances McAvey, “mom.”

As the aroma of freshly-baked cinnamon bread wafted through the air, “mom” sat down with customers who were sipping mugs of coffee, and reading a local paper with the front-page headline: “ARE YOU READY?”

She offered perspective, having lived through the deadly 1938 hurricane. “The roof literally went `ooooph,’” she said, throwing her arms into the air.”Of course, you couldn’t even get a roofer. They wouldn’t even answer their phones, there were so many roofs off.”

Eileen McAvey, Ms. McAvey’s daughter, had been busy all day trying to finish rush orders for cakes. Lots of people apparently had parties planned for this weekend and instead of canceling them, they were moving them up, and wanted those cakes early.

“If people don’t show up, they’ll have more cake for themselves,” said Ms. McAvey, or “mom,” with a laugh.

Power could be shut off in Lower Manhattan — specifically hitting Wall Street — as a precaution against storm surges as Hurricane Irene strikes, authorities said. A final decision will likely come Sunday morning around 8 a.m.

Consolidated Edison Co., the power company for about 3.3 million buildings, homes and businesses in the New York City area, estimated Saturday afternoon that 6,500 downtown customers, all south of the Brooklyn Bridge, could face a preemptive shutdown as early as Sunday morning.

John Miksad, Con Edison’s senior vice president of electric operations, said the utility is particularly concerned about the financial industry and has reached out to Wall Street firms about the potential shutdown.

“The New York Stock Exchange, and all the exchanges, have power generation on site that they could run,” he said. “We’ve actually reached out to them to sort of get a better understanding of what else we could do to support that. And, again, all of this is worst-case scenario, assuming the storm and the tides align (and) we need to make that decision.”

Con Ed has already made the decision to turn off part of the city’s underground steam system, a move that affects 50 customers along 10 miles out of the 110-mile network. These customers, most living downtown, would lose hot water as a result.

At 2:15 p.m., Delaware Gov. Jack Markell said the hurricane has weakened but the state still expects 8 to 12 inches of rain across the state, intense flooding that’s likely to occur in the middle of the night and power outages.

“Floods are likely to occur in the middle of the night, people may be surprised by what they see in the morning,” Markell said from the state’ emergency command center in Smyrna, Del. “People may want to get up periodically throughout the night to check.”

The governor said he is contemplating implementing driving restrictions but doesn’t want to deter people from leaving areas that have been called for evacuation. The Indian River Bridge will be closed at 4 p.m. and could remain closed for a number of days as divers will have to inspect the bridge’s foundation.

For people who decided to stay in the evacuation zones despite warnings, Markell makes no promises that help will be available.

“We will try to get to people but this is the reason we were so clear yesterday and the day before to get out because we cannot make any guarantees.”

Meanwhile, the governor’s team reports that they are responding to 17 areas that have experienced power outages.

Forever 21, the clothing store, was one of a handful of big retailers open in Times Square on Saturday, along with Toys “R” Us and Midtown Manhattan’s archetypal electronics and T-shirt tourist shops.

A sprawling, four-story retail outlet, Forever 21 seemed to pay the storm no heed. From the bling on the clothes to the lights throughout the store, it was bright and bustling even as darkness descended outside.

And the store was rewarded for its determination. Customers waited on checkout lines on every floor Saturday afternoon, with some queues snaking around pillars.

Not everyone was busy buying. George Vacek, from Prague in the Czech Republic, was one of several people standing around absently, apparently waiting for their companions to fulfill their mission.

He, his wife and daughter had planned a trip to the Statue of Liberty on Saturday, but it was not to be. Thus, Forever 21.

“She’s happy to be here,” he said of his daughter, age 13. “She likes shopping, as does my wife.”

In Londonderry, N.H., fruit growers are “out picking peaches like crazy,” said Elaine Dalton, weekend manager at Mack’s Apples, a big commercial orchard with apples, peaches and pears. “We’re afraid the high winds will knock the peaches off – once they hit the ground they’ll be all bruised and won’t be worth anything.”

But the bigger concern at the 100-year-old orchard is the tasty McIntosh apples, that iconic image of New England fall and the prime ingredient for apple pie, preferably topped with ice cream.

The McIntosh variety isn’t due to be picked for another 10 days or so, said Pete Kunyz, the packing-house manager at Mack’s, which is about 15 miles outside Manchester. The orchard can’t pick those apples early to get them out of harm’s way because “you can’t pick an apple before it’s time; it just won’t ripen,” said Mr. Kunyz. “It’s foolish to pick something that’s not going to be saleable.”

“There’s just not a whole lot you can do,” he said. So the apples will have to ride out Irene bobbing in the wind. Apples actually hold onto trees pretty well, he said, but “some of the fruit may get banged up knocking against one another.”

A big question is whether the apple trees, which have all been pruned just so for growing season, will stay upright. Heavy winds of 60 mph or more combined with rain that makes the ground soggy “can topple the trees,” he said.

“We’ve gone through storms and we’ve lost some fruit but it hasn’t been devastating,” he said. “We’ve never experienced anything over 70 mph, so I hope we don’t see that.”

About 12,000 landline telephone customers have lost service because of damage caused by Hurricane Irene, Federal Communications Commission officials said Saturday.

James Barnett, the FCC’s head of public safety and homeland security bureau chief, told reporters that 8,000 customers without telephone service are in North Carolina and 4,000 are in Virginia.

The FCC, which has four mobile teams roving the east coast to monitor communications systems, has found that about 130 cell sites are down, primarily along the North Carolina coast, while 215 more sites are on backup power. But widespread disruptions to wireless telephone service has yet to be reported, Barnett said.

Meanwhile, about 5,000 cable television subscribers, almost all in North Carolina, are without service.

Mr. Barnett said the FCC is aware of no shutdown 911 emergency response centers, nor any radio or television stations that are offline.

FCC officials said they planned to provide another update on the status of communications systems Sunday around noon EDT.

About 12,000 landline telephone customers have lost service because of damage caused by Hurricane Irene, Federal Communications Commission officials said Saturday.

James Barnett, the FCC’s head of public safety and homeland security bureau chief, told reporters that 8,000 customers without telephone service are in North Carolina and 4,000 are in Virginia.

The FCC, which has four mobile teams roving the east coast to monitor communications systems, has found that about 130 cell sites are down, primarily along the North Carolina coast, while 215 more sites are on backup power. But widespread disruptions to wireless telephone service has yet to be reported, Barnett said.

Meanwhile, about 5,000 cable television subscribers, almost all in North Carolina, are without service.

Mr. Barnett said the FCC is aware of no shutdown 911 emergency response centers, nor any radio or television stations that are offline.

FCC officials said they planned to provide another update on the status of communications systems Sunday around noon EDT.

At Staten Island’s Great Kills Marina, boat owners scrambled to tie their vessels down on Saturday ahead of Hurricane Irene’s arrival.

Decked in rain slickers as drops began to fall, owners at the marina secured extra lines to their boats, with hopes that the boats would be able to ride out the storm. Most owners said they’ve never had to deal with a storm of this magnitude.

Michael Ameno, 60 years old, just bought his first boat two months ago and is now facing his first hurricane. His younger brother Vito was untying all of the lines Michael had tied incorrectly, in order to secure the boat.

The brothers, who own the boat jointly, are nervous about the incoming hurricane. “If the surge comes five feet high, all the boats will be on land,” said Vito, while securing a rope.

A big cause for concern for Staten Islanders is something completely out of their control — whether Hurricane Irene will strike the island at high tide. If so, the storm surge would force the docks to lift and can result in the docks — and all of its boats — floating away.

“As long as the docks don’t float, we should be OK,” said 43-year-old Charles of the Oakwood Beach, Staten Island. He spent Friday and Saturday securing his sailboat, Dragonfly, he said. Read more from the marina at WSJ’s Metropolis blog.

Hurricane Irene is approaching Norfolk, Va. with maximum sustained winds of 85 miles per hour, according to the 2 p.m. bulletin of the National Hurricane Center.

The storm has 85-mile-per-hour winds extending 90 miles out from its center and lesser tropical storm winds extending out 260 miles, according to the bulletin.

Irene is expected to produce an “extremely dangerous” storm tide of five to nine feet in North Carolina. The surge will be accompanied by “large…destructive…and life-threatening waves,” according to the bulletin. The storm is expected to produce 6 to 12 inches of rain as it passes, causing widespread flooding and flash floods. Many trees will be uprooted. The storm could also produce tornadoes. Complete article.

Hurricane Irene has landed a solid punch on North Carolina, but it isn’t causing the widespread catastrophic damage that had been feared just two days ago, according to disaster experts. But that doesn’t mean the Northeast will be similarly spared. North Carolinians are practiced at weathering hurricanes and fighting off floodwaters.

Farther north, fewer homes have been tested by sustained hurricane-force winds and the ground is already saturated by days of heavy rain. “The Northeast can’t rest easy,” said Jose Miranda of disaster-modeling company Eqecat Inc. “When all is said and done, I think this will be remembered more as a Northeast storm than a North Carolina storm.”

Currently, North Carolinians are enduring sustained 85 mile-an-hour winds near the hurricane’s center. The wind is causing roof tiles to fly loose and siding to peel away, and the heavy rains are making it easier for gusts to pull down trees.

Such damage will prove costly to repair. But it isn’t as expensive as replacing an entire home, and so far there have been no widespread reports of houses being entirely obliterated by the wind or water, Mr. Miranda said. “So far damage is lighter than expected–a lot of power outages and some flooding,” said E. Stuart Powell Jr., a vice president at Independent Insurance Agents of North Carolina, early Saturday afternoon.

If such early reports hold true, the impact to the insurance industry in North Carolina will be less than initially feared. Insurers have sometimes lost $10 billion or more on a single hurricane; the record remains 2005’s Hurricane Katrina, which cost private insurers more than $40 billion.

For North Carolina, “there will be significant damages, but certainly not of the magnitude we saw from Floyd,” Miranda said.

Floyd caused insured losses of $1.4 billion in North Carolina when it struck the state in 1999, according to the Insurance Information Institute. The figure excludes the $463 million paid by the federal government’s National Flood Insurance Program.

Storm surge, the term for the ocean water pushed inland by a hurricane, was mitigated somewhat by low tides in North Carolina, said Matthew Nielsen, of disaster-modeling company Risk Management Solutions Inc.

“The worst of the storm surge appears to be over,” he said. Flooding in North Carolina will be caused more by water flowing out to the sea than the other way around, Nielsen said. His firm was monitoring flood conditions on the Pamlico, Neuse and Roanoke rivers.

Insurers like Allstate Corp., Travelers Cos.  and State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co. have positioned disaster-response teams along the east coast so they can begin sending adjusters to the site of damaged homes as soon as Irene passes by.

State Farm is the largest home insurer in the states in Irene’s path by premium revenue. Allstate ranks second and Liberty Mutual Group is third, according to data collected by SNL Financial.

Several tourists visiting New York on Saturday either weren’t bitter people by nature. Or they were repressing any frustrations very effectively.

“It’s actually calm and relaxing on the streets here,” said Glen Wilson, a restaurant manager in Australia on a visit.

Mr. Wilson admitted to being “shattered” that the NHL Powered by Reebok store on the Avenue of the Americas, for hockey fans, was closed. But he was upbeat about what the afternoon might bring. “It’s a free day to roam.”

Liani Reyna and Sara Fox were peering into the glass of the Disney Store in Times Square, which also wasn’t open on Saturday afternoon.

Police officers from Portland, Ore., the two were in town for the World Police & Fire Games, a multi-sport event that draws athletes from around the world. The half-marathon in which Ms. Fox was scheduled to participate was canceled.

She wasn’t angry: “What can you do?” she said. She and Ms. Reyna said they supported all cautionary measures officials were taking. If needed, Ms. Fox said, “we would do what we could” to help.

Don and Dawn Watts, in town from Melbourne, Australia, also had a sunny outlook. They had come to the states for the wedding of their Australian friends’ son, who they said was marrying a New York girl. An affair planned for Riverhead on Long Island this weekend was quickly relocated to a backyard in a suburban home north of the city Friday.

Exchanges were holding discussions with their regulators and trading customers Saturday as Hurricane Irene bore down on New York City and the financial services industry put emergency response plans into action. Complete article

In Brunswick County – roughly 100 miles inland from the coastal areas most at risk from the storm – a man was killed when a tree struck his car on a secondary road, according to Sgt. Michelle Anaya of the Virginia State Police. Troopers were still responding to the scene and no further details were available, she said.

On the coastline, an 11-year-old boy was killed when a tree crashed down on his apartment building and he was crushed, according to Newport News police spokesman Lou Thurston.

STAMFORD, Conn. —  Mayor Michael Pavia has issued a mandatory partial evacuation of low-lying areas of the coastal city of Stamford, Conn.

“Due to expected storm surges, high tides and heavy rains, I am advising everyone that lives in these areas to relocate to higher ground,” Mr. Pavia said in a statement.

Nine streets — with specific address  — were mentioned in his announcement. Stamford has established one shelter at the Stamford High School that will be open at 5:00 p.m, Saturday.

Though the town is relatively dry and roads are clear, Hurricane Irene is set to pass directly through this coastal town. The Army Corps of Engineers will be closing Stamford’s hurricane barrier — a walled structure built after the flood of 1955 –at intervals to help prevent flooding.

Radar reports displayed bands of heavy rain falling in Connecticut in advance of Hurricane Irene, with the town of Southbury reporting urban flooding, Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy’s office said in a post to Twitter.

More flooding is possible ahead of Irene, with heavy rains falling more than one-inch per hour, the governor’s office said. Meanwhile, the U.S. Geological Survey has issued a landslide alert in the state because of expected rainfall totals.

The governor has urged people living along the Connecticut shoreline, rivers and other areas prone to flooding to evacuate. In Mystic, Conn., a fire truck drove along Greenmanville Avenue on Saturday afternoon, telling people who lived along the Mystic River that they needed to evacuate.

The Connecticut Red Cross said that shelters are starting to open ahead of the storm in Bridgeport, Colchester, East Lyme, Groton and North Stonington. To find latest shelter information, people can call 211.

Residents in Lloyd Harbor, a village on Long Island’s North Shore, were preparing to be potentially cut off from the rest of Long Island on Saturday. Local police posted a sign informing residents that the only road leading in and out of the village might be cut off “for extended periods” during high tide and periods of storm surge between Saturday and Monday.

Officials recommended that residents of Lloyd Neck and Eaton’s Neck portions of Lloyd Harbor consider evacuating before the storm arrives.

The village, which sits on a peninsula extending into Long Island Sound, is the home of Caumsett State Historic Park, the site of the mansion of the late Marshall Field III, an investment banker and heir to the Marshall Field & Co. department store fortune.

Roughly 400 elderly residents are holed up in Atlantic City high rises, according to Alan Seel, deputy director of emergency management.

“Being elderly, some of them are very reticent to leave,” Mr. Seel said.That number is falling quickly though, he said, as politicians and other local leaders have gone to the sites asking residents to evacuate.

Even though the inroads into Atlantic City are blocked, they are allowing family members of those elderly residents to come in and pick them up.

UPDATE: Mystic Seaport experienced “virtually no damage” tied to the storm, said Dana Hewson, a vice president at the museum. He said that in the height of the storm, water surged over the river and onto the land, but credits the lack of damage to the preparations volunteers and staff took in the preceding days to secure the museum’s historic boats.

Mystic, Conn. — Mystic Seaport, home to some of the nation’s most historic sailing vessels, closed to the public on Saturday, with more than 100 staff and volunteers securing its watercraft before Hurricane Irene descends on the Connecticut town.

Workers spent the end of last week and Saturday morning protecting its two million historic sailing artifacts and collection of historic vessels, which includes the 1841 whaleship Charles W. Morgan. The giant ship, which is undergoing a five-year restoration project, already sat in a cradle designed to withstand hurricanes and storm surges, but staff added more anchors and other reinforcement.  Other historic boats, like the 1880s tall ship Joseph Conrad were moved 10 feet farther away from the dock, with additional rope added to secure the vessel.

“We want the boats to move with the surges and the wind but don’t want them banging into anything,” said Dan McFadden, who works for the Seaport.

Staff also hauled more than 80 smaller boats into the Seaport’s main shed. At the chanderly, a maritime general store, historic artifacts, such as anchors and lanterns, were moved up a floor to protect them from potential flooding.

People at the Seaport are more worried about the storm surges as they are the winds from the hurricane, Mr. McFadden said. If the storm hits at high tide, which is about 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. Saturday, the surges are likely to be much more severe. “It’d be piling water on top of water,” he said.

Indeed, several of these ships are more than a hundred years old and are designed to weather storms. “They’ve lived through all sorts of storms before,” Mr. McFadden said.

Usually buzzing with tourists during the summer, the museum grounds were empty by 2 p.m. Workers and volunteers had anchored down the grounds. Not even benches or trash cans remained. Only one captain, who’s home is his boat, is allowed to stay during the storm, Mr. McFadden said.

Security staff and 17 college students who are spending a semester studying maritime science at the Seaport, will stay close by at the emergency operations center. Security personal will walk the grounds during the storm to keep an eye on the watercraft.

Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy said during a press conference on Saturday that when the storm reaches Connecticut, water will be at high tide raising the likelihood for storm surges and flooding.

The governor urged residents in low lying areas that are likely to flood to evacuate. For information on local shelters, residents can call 211. He said earlier in the day that people should stay off the roads after sunset.

The Atlantic City evacuation ahead of Hurricane Irene has challenged New Jersey officials. In Atlantic City, county officials were worried about the decision by some hospitals to stay put. Complete article.

About 90 percent of residents along the evacuated areas of Ocean County, N.J., have left, emergency officials estimated, and the region’s shelter still has 125 beds available.

Lt. Tom Dellane of the Stafford Twp. police department said Long Beach Island and other barrier islands will likely see their high water levels Sunday morning.

A new moon means that high tide will be at its highest level for the month at that time. The bands of steady rain and wind due in the early morning hours Sunday make that the most likely time for widespread flooding to occur.

Rain and wind are coming through in steady bands now, with periods of heavy downpour and strong gusts followed by drizzle and calm.

Allyn Seel, deputy director of Atlantic City’s department of emergency management said winds are gusting to 31 MPH, but the steady wind is much lower.

ISLIP, N.Y. — Officials along the south shore of Long Island tried to coax residents near the coast out of their homes Saturday. They appeared to be having mixed success.

“We still get a sense that people on the mainland may not be taking this as seriously as they should,” Islip Supervisor Phil Nolan said at a press conference.

Nearly everyone had left Fire Island, Mr. Nolan said. The long, narrow stretch of sand dotted with beach houses is a popular vacation spot accessible only by ferry. The island is low enough that parts could be swamped by the hurricane-driven water.

The last boat was to leave sometime around 4 p.m. Saturday. Power would be turned off soon after. Several dozen people had decided to stay and would be left behind.

Across the Great South Bay, in a neighborhood where some backyards give way to water, cars were still parked in driveways as a firetruck drove down the street broadcasting a warning. Mr. Nolan urged residents to leave.

Peter Miranti and his wife decided they would go to his brother’s house on the north shore. They had worried about what to do with their pets, but said they found a place to board them.

Mark Schutz, 22 years old, and his sister Alicia, parked their 18-foot center-console boat in the driveway after pulling it out of the water. A carpenter had boarded up windows.

Jason Rauch, 56 years old, was also securing boats. He lives on a small canal with an anchorage at the end. A few boats were tied to pilings, with lines stretched across the canal so they wouldn’t smash into the seawalls. He wasn’t worried about a storm surge flooding his house or lifting the boats up above the pilings.

Nineteen shelters were open for those that did leave. Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy said 250 people had checked in by early afternoon Saturday, but he expected that number to increase exponentially, especially if power outages are widespread.

United Parcel Service  has added areas of South Carolina to its list of regions where it isn’t picking up or delivering packages because of localized Hurricane Irene evacuations, after previously citing areas of Delaware, New Jersey, North Carolina and Virginia.

FedEx Corp. hasn’t been as specific, although it is advising customers in regions impacted by the storm to “expect service delays.”

Meanwhile, in case there was any doubt, the UPS service update to customers includes the following sentence: “The UPS package guarantee does not apply when transportation networks are disrupted.”

All flights at New York’s three major airports would be suspended by 10 p.m. Saturday, according to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates the airports.

The authority’s AirTrain service, which runs from Newark Liberty and John F. Kennedy airports to other mass-transit systems, had stopped running earlier in the day.

CSX Corp. has begun inspecting railroad tracks and other rail infrastructure in areas of South Carolina affected by Hurricane Irene, and it plans to move the process progressively north as the storm moves up the coast.

The freight railroad, which operates primarily on the East Coast, previously moved railcars and locomotives to high ground and says rail service along Irene’s projected course has been suspended.

“If you look at the path, you can be sure we’ve suspended service in those areas,” spokesman Gary Sease said.

In Brunswick County – roughly 100 miles inland from the coastal areas most at risk from the storm – a man was killed when a tree struck his car on a secondary road, according to Sgt. Michelle Anaya of the Virginia State Police. Troopers were still responding to the scene and no further details were available, she said.

On the coastline, an 11-year-old boy was killed when a tree crashed down on his apartment building and he was crushed, according to Newport News police spokesman Lou Thurston.

The large tree split in half and tore off a corner section of the two-story apartment building. It took more than a half hour of searching for rescue workers to find the boy in the wreckage, and he was pronounced dead at the scene, authorities said.

Bethpage, LI – Standing against a backdrop of maps showing Irene’s path cutting through western Long Island, Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano strongly warned residents of low lying and storm surge areas to evacuate by the 5 p.m. Saturday deadline.

“Listen, this is not the time to be funny or a knucklehead,” Mr. Mangano said from OEM headquarters, addressing people who have resisted a mandatory evacuation along Nassau’s southern coast and in pockets of the north shore that are in danger of dangerous storm surges.

Mr. Mangano said the storm’s current track is poised to inflict damage on the county with serious flooding, downed trees and power lines causing disruptions to emergency response.

He could not estimate the number of people who left the evacuation zones, saying he believed most went to stay “with friends and family” but the largest of 20 shelters, Nassau County Community College, had reached capacity at 4,000 people.

Mr. Mangano declined to say if law enforcement officials will undertake forced evacuations, saying only “public safety officials will do all they can.”

Depending on the damage, he said “our intent is to get you back into your homes as quickly as possible,” but said residents should expect to stay away from their houses through Monday.

So far, the non-emergency phone line set up has fielded 11,000 calls – a positive sign that residents are keeping 911 lines clear for “life threatening” issues, he said.

He said if the storm causes significant destruction, The National Guard could be deployed. “We accept all additional assistance,” Mr. Mangano said.

Verizon Communications spokeswoman Linda Laughlin said the company wasn’t experiencing problems in North Carolina and that call volume was at relatively normal levels. She said there was no evidence of network equipment damage.

Verizon Wireless spokesman Howard Waterman noted that some cell sites in southeast Virginia and northeast North Carolina are using generator power. He didn’t give additional information. Verizon Wireless is co-owned by Verizon Communications and Vodafone Group PLC.

An AT&T spokesman, Mark Siegel, said the company’s network had seen “some impact” in North Carolina though he said the extent wasn’t clear and was difficult to assess until crews could more easily examine equipment. He didn’t elaborate.

Those carriers, as well as Sprint Nextel Corp., and Deutsche Telekom AG’s T-Mobile USA, shuttered some stores in anticipation of the storm. Spokespeople from T-Mobile and Sprint didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

A T-Mobile USA spokesman, Bryan Zidar, said 10% of the company’s cell sites in the Carolinas and 3% in Virginia weren’t operational. He said the company’s network was “operational” overall.

Both FedEx Corp. and United Parcel Service Inc. have moved some aircraft away from East Coast airports in the path of the hurricane, with FedEX shifting them to Indianapolis, Memphis and Greensboro, and UPS parking them at its Louisville, Ky., hub.

FedEx also said in an update Saturday that it has suspended some service in areas of North Carolina, New Jersey, Virginia, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania and Delaware.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is likely to close hurricane barriers near Providence, R.I., Bridgeport, Conn., and New Bedford, Mass., on Sunday morning between 3 am and 4 am eastern time, a spokesman for the Corps of Engineers said Saturday.

The heavy concrete and steel barriers form a shield to protect the coastal cities from crippling floods, or storm surges, propelled by major storms like Hurricane Irene. As Irene moves into New England, such surges are one of the biggest threats.

Sunday’s high tides–due around 8 am and 8 pm Eastern time along New England— are already expected to be higher than usual, because of astronomical factors including the new moon.

If the storm and tides lead to a surge as expected, the Corps will close the barriers, the spokesman said. A final determination will be made at around 3 am Eastern time.

The National Weather Service currently projects a high tide of 8.9 feet on Sunday evening in Providence, which sits at the top of Rhode Island’s Narragansett Bay. In New Bedford, it is projecting a 9-foot tide. The Corps of Engineers is expecting sea levels to rise anywhere from 5 feet to 12 feet above normal sea level on Sunday, including the effects of both tides and Irene’s storm surge, the spokesman said.

Late Saturday afternoon Gov. Cuomo visited the 69th Regiment Armory on Lexington Ave. between 25th and 26th streets to announce he was deploying 1,000 National Guard troops in addition to the 1,000 already deployed. Mr. Cuomo was wearing a blue blazer, cream pants and a white shirt with no tie. He shook hands with a few of the 200 or so national guardsmen standing at attention before stepping to the podium.

“The National guard will play a vital role in this situation. The initial plan was for 1,000 National Guard to be called up. I will double that number to 2,000 National Guard,” he said.

The troops will be deployed throughout New York City and Long Island and working with the MTA, NYPD and Port Authority to secure bridges and tunnels, as well as to protect the World Trade Center site from flooding. The troops will also help with clean-up and help direct traffic if there are widespread power outages.

“Government in many ways has done everything they can to be prepared,” he said, adding that citizens must also be prepared.

“If you are in an area that is a mandatory evacuation zone, you must evacuate. Even if you’re not in an evacuation zone, this is not a time to be out on the roads. Unless it is an emergency stay home. Enjoy your family, get a good book, but stay indoors,” he said.

Mr. Cuomo said he stood by his decision to shut down the MTA, despite criticism. “I think it was the right decision, I stand by the decision,” he said. “I am the Governor and I made the decision.”

The 69th Regiment armory is one of three staging in the area. The other two are Stewart Airport in Newburgh and Republic Airport on Long Island. Some 100 dump trucks are headed to staging areas, said director of State Operations Howard Glaser, along with excavators, bulldozers, backhoes, 12 trailers of generators, 20 trailers of water, 20 trailers of meals ready to eat, all of which can be added to if need be.

Mr. Glaser said the state has opened a federal mobilization center at Republic where 20 federal workers are assisting with distribution and logistics of federal aid. Mr. Glaser added that the governor had submitted a memorandum of agreement to Secretary of Defense Panetta “which establishes a joint command in the event that additional federal defense resources are necessary.”

“Post-hurricane Katrina that coordination between federal and state government was very tricky,” he said. “This establishes one command under the governor in New York State should that become necessary.”

Southborough, Mass.–In an humid elementary school cafeteria, Carol Willoughby prepared for disaster.

In less than two hours, around 6pm, the school would transform into a shelter, the first the town has ever set up, as far as Ms. Willoughby, the shelter manager, could recall.

A pristine little area where the grounds of the local police headquarters boast a trim white gazebo, Southborough is a low-lying town near the Sudbury Reservoir, and thus susceptible to flooding. The National Weather Service had just issued a flash flood warning for the surrounding area.

Ms. Willoughby, a volunteer with Southborough CERT/MRC, the community’s emergency response team, prepared Saturday to accept as many as 55 overnight residents in the library of the school, which abuts the stately St. Mark’s Golf Club. The facility’s cafeteria can also handle about 230 people, or as Ms. Willoughby preferred to call them, “clients.”

Though no areas in the region have received official evacuation orders, inquiries to the shelter began rolling in around 10 am Saturday.

As Ms. Willoughby provided a tour of the facilities, she was trailed by her 6-year-old granddaughter, Skye, who pointed to her favorite amenity, located in the school’s library. “There’s a beanbag chair!” said Skye.

Her grandmother, however, was focused on other matters, and paused to check a text message. “Oh, it’s FEMA,” she said.

Then, realizing she was running out of time to arrange her own supplies, added, “I’ve gotta go home and get my air mattress.”

As the rains picked up early Saturday evening a steady trickle of elderly people, the handicapped and Chinese and Latino residents of nearby Lower East Side apartment complexes filed into the Steward Park High School. Volunteers served hot meals and provided toothbrushes, wipes and other sanitary products to evacuees.

“There are six kids in my family,” says Stephanie Guzman, a 23 year old student whose building on Avenue D made her evacuate Saturday morning. Volunteers provided the Guzman family with supplies. “Food, water, diapers, blankets, cots, you name it, they’re handing it out,” she says.

But the high school is getting crowded, she says. Cots are set up in the hallways, gym and basement but not in classrooms, since they’re too exposed with windows and could be dangerous. Evacuated pets filled a separate area with the A.S.P.C.A. providing puppy chow and chew toys.

Some evacuees came early, even before it started raining, anticipating an evening rush as Hurricane Irene is expected to barrel in. If the high school reaches capacity residents say authorities have told them they’ll find another place nearby. “It’s gonna be a mad house later,” says Santos Morales, a 45-year-old retiree who was told to leave his apartment near the F.D.R. expressway on the far east side of Lower Manhattan. The low-lying area is in the city’s precarious Zone A in which residents are facing forced evacuations.

“I would’ve stayed but after that earthquake a few states away and I felt it in my building, I didn’t want to be in my apartment,” Mr. Morales says.

Jamir Elephante, a 22-year-old dancer, lives in a new, mostly glass, building on the Lower East Side. “We know it’s a new building but it just didn’t seem like it can withstand anything,” he says. So he decided to ride out the storm at Seward Park High School. “I’ve got two days worth of battery life,” he says, his iPod on full blast. “We’re fine.”

The sick, disabled and elderly were under more pressure than most to heed the city’s evacuation order. Housing authorities banged on doors in the area early Saturday to direct residents to city-provided buses, evacuees say. “I was ready to leave. I wasn’t feeling safe,” says Yvette Quinones, 43 and a disabled cancer patient. Free buses took her and other residents of her Avenue D apartment building to the Seward Park evacuation center.

After almost passing out due to the heat, a volunteer set up a fan right by Ms. Quinones’s cot inside the high school, she says. “It’s been pretty smooth. They served us a hot meal, corn and green beans,” she says. She expects to stay until Sunday night.

One group of residents in this diverse ethnic enclave wasn’t budging: Orthodox Jews. The Jewish religion prevents them from doing any work, like riding in elevators, handling money or checking in at an evacuation center, during the sabbath which ends at sundown on Saturday.

FARMINGDALE, N.Y.– New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Saturday he was doubling the number of national guard troops being called up to deal with Hurricane Irene and its aftermath.

New York would have 2,000 troops on hand to help with evacuations, manage shelters and clean up downed trees, Mr. Cuomo said.

Nearly 10,000 flights have been canceled for Saturday and Sunday because of Hurricane Irene, with the largest number of pullbacks occurring in Greater New York where the major airports there closed at noon.

The two-day total of 9,664 flights could still rise as airlines finalize their plans through Sunday night and Monday, according to, a website that tracks flights. New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport had the most cancellations on Saturday with 976, while Newark Liberty International Airport had 855 and LaGuardia Airport withdrew 433.

Cancellations on Saturday totaled 3,790, while the toll is higher for Sunday, at 5,874, according to FlightAware.

Staten Island’s Father Capodanno Boulevard runs alongside the sea, dividing boardwalks and beaches from shops and houses with ocean views. When Irene’s full fury arrives hours from now, this road – roughly 500 feet from the water – is the line to be crossed before churning waves reach driveways and living rooms.

Before the 5 p.m. evacuation deadline, with the monster storm looming to the south and the boulevard largely deserted of traffic, most of the homes here looked the same as on any other day. Some had windows with the familiar “X” of masking tape, hoping to ward off shattered glass from flying debris. A few had doors and garages covered with blue tarps or taped-together trash bags. Fewer still were sealed behind wood and nails.

On just one block, three attached houses illustrated a “Three Little Pigs” effect: the first fortified with plywood and sandbags and a barricaded driveway, the second’s windows a crisscross of blue adhesive, the third just business as usual – naked glass reflecting the swirling clouds and restless sea.

Hurricane Irene so far has left an estimated 438,000 utility customers without power in North Carolina and northern Virginia as line crews begin assessing storm damage, two of the region’s largest utilities said Saturday.

Progress Energy Inc. reported around 250,000 customers without power concentrated in coastal North Carolina. Dominion Resources Inc. reported about 188,000 customers in northern North Carolina and southern Virginia without power. Complete article

NEW BERN, N.C.–Strong wind and steady rain continued to lash this small city about halfway up North Carolina’s coast Saturday night, roughly 12 hours after Hurricane Irene made landfall nearby.

The sustained storm conditions about 30 miles inland testify to the expansive girth of Irene, despite its diminished Category 1 status, and how slowly it is moving up the Eastern Seaboard.

Floodwaters threatened the Hilton Riverfront hotel in New Bern, pop. 30,000, early Saturday when the Neuse River overflowed its banks and waves began lapping just inches below ground-floor rooms. Some cars were also partially submerged in the parking lot.

Local sailors estimated Irene’s storm surge raised the river’s waters by about eight feet as big waves from the Atlantic Ocean pushed into Pamlico Sound and up the river to reach farther inland.

The floodwaters that threatened the hotel had receded back into the Neuse by around noon. By late afternoon the river here had rougfhly returned to its normal height as water flowed back into the Sound, pushed along by winds from the west.

But hotel staff were still placing pails under leaks late Saturday and throwing sheets on soaked floors after the wind and rain damaged the roof.  Michael McMahon, the hotel’s general manager, estimated it will cost about $1 million to replace the roof, damaged drywall and carpets.

Most of the city, including the hotel, was without power. The local utility hoped to start getting customers back on the grid Sunday morning. In the meantime, the hotel was handing out its rapidly melting supply of ice cream bars for free.

Louann Ellis decamped Friday morning with her two children and dog from their house in Beaufort, a town right on the coast where Irene made landfall around 730 a.m. Saturday.

Ms. Ellis said she had several text messages from her husband, who is stationed in Iraq with the marines, asking if the family was safe.  But she hadn’t been able to send a reply because her signal was only good enough to receive text, not send text.

“Hopefully I can find out tomorrow,” said Ms. Ellis as she took her dog, Mooshoo, for a walk around the soaked hotel lobby.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said this week that there is no plan to evacuate prisoners on Rikers Island, the city’s main jail complex on 400 acres of land in the East River.

With Hurricane Irene heading toward the city, the Bloomberg administration reviewed Rikers Island, as it examined every section of the city, and determined no part of the jail complex falls in the high-risk “Zone A” category, said Marc LaVorgna, a spokesman for the mayor. Mr. Bloomberg ordered a mandatory evacuation of all people in the low-lying “Zone A” category, as well as the entirety of the Rockaways in Queens.

Rikers Island does not touch the Atlantic Ocean and like Manhattan Island, Roosevelt Island and City Island, it does not need to be evacuated, Mr. LaVorgna said.

A full Corrections Department staff will remain on Rikers Island during the storm and, according to Mr. LaVorgna, the jail is a fully self-sustaining facility, “prepared to operate and care for inmates in extended emergency conditions.”

Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee on Saturday evening warned against complacency in the face of a major hurricane, as it appeared that Hurricane Irene was weakening and wasn’t likely to make a direct hit on the state.

“The biggest concern is that the storm is weakening,” Mr. Chafee said at a press conference at the state’s emergency-management headquarters in Cranston. “Everybody wants to get down there and see the big waves. But there could be that one rogue wave.”

Mr. Chafee also cited high winds, downed power lines and a storm surge flooding low-lying areas along Narragansett Bay as major concerns from the storm. Six local Rhode Island communities have issued mandatory evacuation orders for some of their residents, state officials said. So far, most of those evacuations have not taken place, but they are beginning Saturday evening, the officials added.

“We’ve been good about letting them make the decisions,” Mr. Chafee said an interview after the press conference, noting that the state had been holding conference calls with mayors and town managers.

Asked if there is pressure on elected officials to react strongly to natural disasters following such failures as the response to Hurricane Katrina and New York’s massive blizzard last winter, Mr. Chafee smiled and said, “Yes.”

Hurricane Irene is about 35 miles southeast of Norfolk, Va., with maximum sustained winds of 80 miles per hour, according to the 7 p.m. bulletin of the National Hurricane Center. The hurricane remained about 315 miles southwest of New York City.

The center of the hurricane is moving north and the motion is expected to have a “gradual” increase in the next day or so, according to the bulletin. Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 85 miles from the center, with weaker, tropical-storm winds gusting outward up to 290 miles away. Heavy rainfall, between 6 inches to 12 inches, is expected to hit eastern North Carolina, the Mid-Atlantic states, eastern New York and interior New England.

Isolated tornadoes could be possible along the coasts of Maryland, Delaware and New Jersey through Saturday night.

Families, residents and even pets of Staten Island’s North Shore filed into Michael J Petrides School Saturday afternoon, looking for higher ground to ride out Irene. The school is one of five evacuation centers on Staten Island.

As of 5:30, 266 Staten Islanders, mostly from the neighborhoods of South Beach, Midland Beach and Great Kills, were residing at the central Staten Island shelter, says Lisa Bova-Hiatte, a Staten Island attorney who works for the city and is managing the center. Many neighborhood’s on Staten Island’s North Shore border water near the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and the Staten Island Ferry.

Green cots provided by the Office of Emergency Management line the school’s gymnasium, and classrooms hold evacuees with health issues and special needs. Nearby Beacon of Hope House, a mental health center, also evacuated to the school, says Ms. Bova-Hiatte. Petrides is capable of holding over 3,500 evacuees, she says.

Residents started arriving as early as Friday night, toting along duffle bags full of clothes, books, newspaper, lap tops. One evacuee even brought a flat-screen television that was playing Disney’s “The Jungle Book” Saturday night for a group of children.

Josephine Guarnieri, 80, and her brother Harry Guarnieri, 82, of Oakwood Heights arrived Friday night after a neighbor received a phone call about evacuations. The two are staying in a private classroom because Harry had to bring along his feeding tube. “It’s strange, I had trouble sleeping last night,” says Josephine, who like many Staten Islanders, has never had to evacuate.

“The anxiety [of the impending Hurricane] is something I’ve never experienced before in my life,” says Harry.

Michael Brown, a 43-year-old retired construction worker from Port Richmond, checked into the center at 5:30 on Saturday night. He says many in his neighborhood disregarded the warnings to evacuate because they wanted to protect their homes. “They don’t understand how severe this storm will be,” he says.

Despite the storm’s approach, there was a sense of calm at the center Saturday evening. Petrides has generators on hand in the event of a power outage and a full cafeteria staffed with volunteers.

On Saturday night a music classroom served as a family movie theater where children and parents could watch “Antz.”

The center even has its fair share of furry friends escaping the storm. The women’s locker room is housing large animals, like Pluto, a large, brown dog.

Another room houses smaller dogs, a number of cats, three rabbits and a bunch of parakeets. Evacuees can visit their animals during certain hours of the day.

Hurricane Irene so far has left more than one million utility customers without power in North Carolina and northern Virginia as line crews begin assessing storm damage, two of the region’s largest utilities said. Complete article

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority will suspend all service Sunday, the agency said Saturday evening.

“With severe winds, heavy rain, and flooding forecast for metropolitan Boston, this decision has been made with the safety of customers and employees being the MBTA’s top priority at all times,” the agency said in a statement.

The shutdown in anticipation of Hurricane Irene’s hit is the most significant impact on service since the blizzard of February 1978, according to a spokesman for the agency.

Police have identified the man killed when a tree fell on a car in Brunswick County, Va, some 100 miles inland from the coast.

Around 1:30 p.m., the top of a large tree snapped off and fell on the roof of a Honda Accord traveling on a secondary road. The driver didn’t suffer life-threatening injuries, but his passenger, James Blackwell, 67, was killed, according to Virginia State Police Sgt. Michelle Anaya. She said the medical examiner will determine if the cause of death was weather-related.

The mass transit agency in the Boston area decided to call off service for Sunday due to Hurricane Irene, despite earlier hopes to keep trains and buses rolling through the storm.

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority follows on the heels of transit operators in New York and Philadelphia with plans to idle systems for Irene.

“After a careful review of the most recent information from the National Weather Service, the MBTA has decided to suspend all modes of service for the entirety of Sunday, August 28th,” the agency said in a statement late Saturday.

“With severe winds, heavy rain, and flooding forecast for metropolitan Boston, this decision has been made with the safety of customers and employees being the MBTA’s top priority at all times,” the agency also said.

In Nassau County’s Long Beach waterfront community, several dozen people ignored the mandatory order to evacuate and some even wore rain gear and went to the boardwalk where they watched large waves break under a driving rain.

Earlier, Nassau County authorities had made strong pleas for residents along the southern shore to heed the call to leave for higher ground and suggested public safety officials would take steps to enforce a 5 p.m. deadline to evacuate.

But at 7 p.m., cars still sat in the driveways of homes closest to the beach, only a handful of houses were boarded up and lights glowed inside apartment towers near the boardwalk.

Mike Christou and his daughter, Chrissi, 18, drove from their home about three quarters of a mile away to the beach and huddled together on the boardwalk under umbrellas and watched as high waves tumbled towards the beach.

“The reason I want to stay is really damage control,” he said. “We have a pump and we can start cleaning up right away.”

He said the pump attaches to the cigarette lighter in his Nissan SUV and can be used even if power goes out.

His daughter said she had never seen the water travel as far inland as to the lifeguard chairs in the middle of the beach.

Mr. Christou, a network engineer at a firm in Lower Manhattan, said he was taking a risk by staying, but he’s not being reckless: he took pains to board up his home that he bought in 1988.

Elsewhere on the beach, a young man ran along the dunes with his dog while a family clad in yellow rain slicks stood pointing at the ocean. A group of surfers holding short boards, used for big waves, started to make their way from the water to the ocean as the light started to fade and the rain drove harder. They wore grins.

Mr. Obama was updated on the impact of the storm so far, its track as it moves up the coast and the federal government’s response efforts, the White House said in a statement. He was briefed by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate, Energy Secretary Steven Chu and White House counterterrorism advisor John Brennan. Vice President Joe Biden also participated on the call.

The White House said Mr. Obama will continue to receive updates on developments Saturday night and plans to hold another conference call Sunday morning.

At the Stop & Shop supermarket in Watchung, N.J, business was brisk in the late morning, but had tapered off sharply by 7 p.m. EST. The shelves were mostly emptied of bottled water, cereal, peanut butter, jelly, sliced breads and rolls, canned foods and eggs. Frozen pizza also seemed a popular pick, along with packages of shredded and sliced cheese and soft drinks. Bottled water was almost completely depleted, and employees said they expected it to remain that way until at least Monday. The store planned to stay open until midnight, as it normally would on Saturday, and open its doors for its usual hours on Sunday.

A Walmart located in the same shopping complex closed at 7 p.m., ahead of schedule, said a Stop & Shop customer who was surprised to learn of the closure. The entrance to the Walmart’s garden center  had caution tape ringing off eight pallets of bundled cardboard, stacked two high, as an added barrier against damage.

The Home Depot at the Watchung mall remained open 24 hours on Friday, an employee said, and is expected to keep its usual closing schedule on Saturday and normal store hours on Sunday. Like many home-improvement stores along the eastern seaboard, it had been racing to keep up with demand for many items, and generators, “C” and “D” batteries and flashlights remained out of stock Saturday evening.

Employees couldn’t say when these items would be back in stock, noting that the delivery truck loads and schedules are set by Home Depot’s regional distribution centers and emergency teams are in place to deal with the storm and its aftermath.

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – With Irene advancing, locals carrying overnight bags began arriving at a shelter that opened in a gymnasium at Greenleaf Park.

Already, many homes and psyches in this city 90 miles west of Boston are fragile after a bizarre June tornado  killed 3 people and damaged 1,600 homes to the point that many people are still living in temporary trailers.

“I’m not a clinician but there is some PTSD going on here,” said Dorrie Durand, a Red Cross caseworker who is assisting tornado victims and is also running the hurricane shelter. “I get calls from parents saying, ‘is there someone you can refer me to because every time there is a thunderstorm, my kid freaks out.'”

BAY SHORE, N.Y.–The last ferry from Fire Island arrived on the mainland amid a light drizzle shortly after 5 p.m. Saturday, carrying the last evacuees from the long, narrow stretch of sand and leaving behind a few dozen holdouts.

Among the 15 stragglers on the boat were Jake Kuhn and Marcos Martinez, employees at Maguire’s, a restaurant in the island village of Ocean Beach.

They had stocked up on candles and were prepared to stick out the storm. But after police visited for the fourth time telling them they either had to leave or sign a waiver, they decided to go.

There were between 29 and 50 people left in Ocean Beach Saturday evening, according to Officer Henry Clemens, a member of the local police department who arrived in Bay Shore on the last ferry. Among those left behind were five police officers.

Tim Mooney, the owner of the ferry company, said his staff had been working for four days to secure his fleet of 27 boats. Each ferry was tied to pilings with a spiderweb of lines. All were slackened so they wouldn’t stretch and break as the boats rose in a storm surge.

“I think we’re in pretty good shape,” Mr. Mooney said as he surveyed his fleet. He hoped to start running service again Monday morning, if piers aren’t damaged.

The call came in at 7:11 p.m. that the kayakers were in the lower New York Bay off of the Mayberry Promenade. Harbor Charlie, a boat that is part of the Harbor unit, removed the kayakers to Great Kills harbor.

A spokesperson for the NYPD says it was unclear at this point if the kayakers were in distressed or were being removed as a precaution.

Tropical Storm force winds are now continuously battering Atlantic City and Egg Harbor Township, N.J.

Machipongo VA–Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell said Saturday night that he was concerned the worst effects of Hurricane Irene are yet to come – days of threatened flooding in low-lying parts of the state.

“It’s just bad timing with winds at their peak at the same time as high tide, so storm surge is very dangerous,’’ said Mr. McDonnell, a Republican.

The governor warned that depending on the storm’s behavior, the surge could be 6 to 8 feet – higher than 2003’s Hurricane Isabel which flooded neighborhoods around the Norfolk area. It was possible, he said, the water could rise higher than even a historic 1933 hurricane that did extensive damage in the state.

The storm damage is not limited to the coastline. Some of the most extensive power outages in Virginia were far inland, around the state capitol of Richmond. And other parts of the state have already reported receiving 16 inches of rain, he said.

“The flooding is going to be significant along many places along eastern Virginia,’’ the governor said, adding that he expects the flooding problem to last for days.

Mr. McDonnell repeatedly urged people not to go outside, and authorized local communities to impose curfews if they choose to over the next 48 hours. Some municipal officials, including Hampton and Newport News, have already chosen to impose nighttime curfews.

On Saturday, one Virginia man was killed when a tree struck the car in which he was riding. Two others — including an 11-year-old boy – were killed in separate incidents when falling trees struck their homes.

Flooding on Staten Island has already begun. The intersection of Victory Boulevard and Bradley Ave., a main intersection in Staten Island, was already experiencing flooding as of 8 p.m. Saturday.

Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy announced a tornado watch this evening, in addition to Hurricane Irene.

Residents can expect “a lot of wind late in the day. That is a development that we have seen in the last hour from federal alerts,” he said.

Gov. Malloy described it as “two separate air systems conflicting.” One system is moving slowly to the northeast as another squeezes it from the west, he said.

Currently, 17 muncipalities have declared states of emergency, and 500 national guard troops are coming to Connecticut.

Stamford mayor Michael Pavia has issued a curfew for non-essential vehicles starting at  6:00 am until further notice. The local shelter, operated by the Red Cross has taken in about 11 individuals who were evacuated from low-lying areas and stranded travelers.

New Jersey, namely Raritan Bay in the north and its various inland waterways running off the Delaware River, is now bracing for record flooding, worse than what was expected just hours ago, according to state emergency management officials.

“There’s no doubt that these streams and rivers will overflow to record levels,” said Steve King, deputy emergency management coordinator for Burlington County in central New Jersey, speaking in the agency’s building in Mount Holly, NJ.

Most of the county’s half million residents live in the expected flood zones, along the Delaware River and the Rancocas Creek and its several tributaries that traverse the county.

In July 2004, a rainstorm that dropped 13 inches of rain in 12 hours in the area created a headwall of water reaching more than five feet high, ultimately busting through dozens of dams and displacing hundreds of residents along the Rancocas.

Officials say they are now expecting 12-14 inches of rain in the state, accumulated from earlier in the afternoon through tomorrow.  That’s up from the previous forecast of eight to 10 inches.

“We had thought once it hit land in the North Carolina it would speed up,” said Mr. King. “That’s not happening.”

The lunar tides and high rainfall in  August coupled with the current dumping are making for “epic flooding” in these inland waterways, said Mr. King.

In an 8 pm conference call of the state’s 21 county emergency coordinators, the officials began discussing locations and plans for setting up distribution points for food, water, tarps and ice for affected residents.

Sussex County, Del. –Beach dwellers that fled Hurricane Irene along Delaware beaches are preparing for another kind of extreme weather further inland: Tornados.

Around 6:15 p.m., residents along the Five Points intersection of Routes 1 and 9 near Lewes reported a tornado touchdown, according to Sussex County spokesman Chip Guy. More than 15 homes were damaged but no injuries were reported so far, he said.

Tornado warnings are in effect for Georgetown, Lewes, Long Neck, Milford, Milton, about 15 miles away from the Delaware coast. Many of the bridges have been closed across the state and drivers have been banned from roads across the state, unless they have an emergency or are trying to flee an evacuated area.

St. Michaels, Md.–After 12 hours of rain and increasing winds, the heart of Irene has hit this coastal zone along Maryland’s Eastern Shore, kocking out power, downing trees and flooding area roads.

The storm had built all day and seemed anticlimatic to many area residents, some of whom kept markets and restaurants open well through the afternoon, contrary to orders in some low-lying areas for resident to evacuate. The Bay Bridge, the main route to Anapolis and Washington from here, was closed early in the evening due to high winds.

In St. Michaels, shortly after nightfall the wind began to pick up considerably, toppling trees and severing limbs. Then the power went out, came back up, flickered off again, and then died, most likely for the night, or longer.

The eye of Hurricane Irene is expected to pass across Connecticut between 11 a.m. and noon on Sunday, Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy said during a press conference on Saturday night, with 17 municipalities in Connecticut declaring states of emergencies and 28 state municipalities holding mandatory evacuations.

Members of the National Guard have been deployed across the state, with their presence increasing by Monday, the governor said.

State officials are concerned about the storm hitting the Western Long Island Sound at high tide, which could could cause flooding, he said. The storm is extremely slow moving and dropping a lot of water, Governor Malloy said, urging residents who live in areas prone to flooding to evacuate.

“A section of our state is going to be hit during high tide, and that is the condition that could make it worse,” he said.

Earlier in the day on Saturday, very few people were at shelters in the coastal towns in Southeast, Conn. New London, Conn. and East Lyme, Conn. Local news reports stated that shelters were filling up quickly in the Western portion of the state along the coast.

By 8 a.m. on Sunday, the state is expected to experience hurricane-force winds. Governor Malloy warned that because of unusual weather patterns, high winds that could be just as strong as the actual hurricane are likely after the storm moves through the state.

Governor Malloy said that he signed an agreement with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to secure funds.

Transportation in the state is slowing to a halt, with air, train and bus services suspended. The governor urged residents to get off the roads and said that the state is prepared to close roads, in particular the Merritt and Wilbur Cross Parkways.

Hurricane Irene is “lashing” the Virginia tidewater region near Norfolk, gusting 80-mile-per-hour winds, according to the 9 p.m. bulletin of the National Hurricane Center.

The center of the hurricane should move to the Mid-Atlantic coast Saturday night and onto southern New England by Sunday, according to the bulletin. The storm–moving north to northeast around 16 miles per hour–is about 100 miles from the northeast tip of Maryland. It’s also 285 miles from New York.

Hurricane Irene, while weakening from previous forecasts, is proving to be resilient, with strong winds and heavy rainfall still pounding spots of North Carolina for more than 12 hours. Its hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 85 miles from the center, while weaker tropical storm force winds are felt nearly 300 miles away. Rainfall of 10 to 14 inches has already occurred over a large portion of eastern North Carolina, according to the bulletin.

Retailers had mixed experiences with Hurricane Irene Saturday as the storm wound its way up the East Coast.

The store operated by Sears Holdings Corp.  in Wilmington, N.C., delayed its 9 am opening until 1:30 pm because the storm was hitting so fiercely.

Once the store, which is 10 miles from the Atlantic Ocean, opened, “People wanted generators,” to deal with power outages, said manager Suzanne Roche. “Later on it was things for cleanup, like rakes and chainsaws.”

Customer traffic was brisk, said Roche, who said everyone welcomed the rainbow that broke across the sky late in the afternoon.

Retailers in the metro New York area spent Saturday gauging whether they should open stores.   The iconic Macy’s Inc. store in Herald Square was among stores in New York City that did not open for reasons that included the closing of the city’s transportation system, and will likely be closed on Sunday.

Roosevelt Field Mall in Garden City, N.Y., was seeing solid traffic at stores, with teen retailers seeing some of the most shoppers.

A tornado has touched down near Chatsworth, in the south central part of New Jersey, according to emergency management officials in Burlington County, NJ. Officials in the state say they are now most concerned about the rain and expected flooding, rather than high winds.  The storm is moving at around 10 to 15 miles per hour, as it moves toward the state, rather than the typical speed of around 25 miles per hour, according to Steve King, deputy coordinator of emergency management for Burlington County. That will lead to more rainfall than expected—and more flooding, he said.

As of 9 p.m., PSE&G is reporting about 4,700 customers without power due to the heavy winds and driving rain caused by Hurricane Irene. The utility provides electric service to 2.2 million customers

Long Beach on the South Shore of Long Island is in a mandatory evacuation zone, but as the waves were rising some people flocked to the beach and not to high ground. WSJ’s Tamer El-Ghobashy reports. Watch the video.

At 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, about half a dozen people had registered at the Red Cross shelter in East Lyme, Conn. Housed in the town’s middle school, it had cots and supplies for 375 people and serves the coastal towns in Southeast Connecticut: Lyme, Old Lyme, East Lyme and Waterford.

Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy earlier in the day urged state residents living in low lying coastal areas and places prone to flooding to evacuate and recommended people to get off the roads by sunset. Reverse emergency phone calls went out to residents in the town of East Lyme, alerting them to voluntary evacuation plans. But very few people had yet to reach the shelter before the sun started to go down. Another shelter in New London, Conn., a 15-minute drive away, didn’t open until 6 p.m.on Saturday.

James Newman, the shelter manager in East Lyme, said that he expected people to trickle into the facility throughout the evening or after the storm hits if people don’t have power or run low on supplies. He pointed to the 375 cots — 300 of which from the state — still in boxes as he walked through the cafeteria, which was stocked pots of coffee, fresh fruit and Kudos chocolate bars. Two women played cards to pass the time.

The shelter is pet friendly as long as people bring cages and food for their animals. Mr. Newman said including animals in the evacuation shelters was important following Hurricane Katrina when several people didn’t evacuate because they didn’t have plans for their pets.

As the sun started to set, people lined up at gas stations throughout the town, and filled up the local Stop & Shop Grocery Store, purchasing last minute supplies. Some houses closer to the coast had boarded up their windows, and one local hair salon wrote: “Bring It Irene” on the window.

The Connecticut Red Cross said that 41 shelters were open in the state. Utilities company Connecticut Light and Power said in a post on Twitter that it opened its emergency operations center, opening a hotline to report outages. That number is 1-800-286-2000. The company said that it is working with state officials to coordinate efforts and that support crews are arriving from as far away as Florida, Ohio and Michigan.

Flash floods are occurring across southern New Jersey as heavy bands of wind and rain overwhelm drainage systems and local officials rush to close roads.

Shore Road near state highway 30 in Absecon, along with portions of Route 9, a main north-south highway that runs parallel to the Garden State Parkway, have already been closed due to flash flooding.

The water is rising faster than local officials had expected, said Linda Gilmore of the Atlantic County Office of Emergency Management.

One to two feet of water already cover roads in some parts of Mays Landing, N.J., a small town 25 miles west of Atlantic City that has also lost power.

Utility crews slowly drove along state highway 40 Saturday night with spotlights pointed to power lines, as mostly service vehicles traversed roads that in many places were without functioning traffic lights.

A tornado warning is in effect for Atlantic County, N.J., county officials said, where sustained winds have reached 39 miles per hour.

Residents of the Giants Neck Beach Association in Niantic, Conn. boarded up houses and started to evacuate on Saturday morning in preparation for Hurricane Irene.

The neighborhood is home to 196 picturesque New England summer homes and year-long residences next to private beaches along the Long Island Sound. Boats usually crowd the water in the summer, but the shoreline was empty excepting for one sailboat on Saturday morning. Neighborhood boys played on the beach, talking excitedly about Hurricane Irene.

Residents have been following news coverage of the storm and are predicting that the main issue for the neighborhood will be flooding in the aftermath of storm surges. The neighborhood is accessible via one main road that runs under the railroad, and people say that if there is any flooding it could be hard to get out.

Indeed, Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy earlier Saturday morning urged citizens in the state who live along the Long Island Sound, rivers, streams and areas prone to flooding to evacuate. He said state officials were expecting severe storm surges.

The neighborhood banded together on Saturday to secure houses and make sure everyone would be safe. Just before 11 a.m., a neighborhood volunteer shoveled sand off the neighborhood’s main road into blue buckets in the back of his pick-up truck to make it easier to clear roads after the storm hits. Others were planning to bring inside the belongings of another neighbor, who is in Spain for his son’s wedding.

John Wohler, 53 years old, has owned a summer residence in the neighborhood for the past two years. He spent two hours on Saturday morning with four neighbors screwing sheets of plywood over the windows of his stone-grey colonial beach home. The accountant had his car packed and was preparing to drive to his main home about an hours drive away in Glastonbury, Conn

Among the residents planning to weather the storm are Kathy and Larry Cole, retirees who have lived at their home since 1994. The house is their main residence. The couple were in the midst of taking down flags and bring plants inside on Saturday morning. Ms. Cole worried about her herb garden and purple morning glories, which just blossomed.

A major rain storm last March left three feet of water in the couple’s basement, and they were worried about more flooding. A friend lent them a generator, and they have a pump ready to go to keep their home dry. They said they are stocked with food and plenty of water.

Ms. Cole is the Internet administrator for the neighborhood association and said that she has been sending out emails to collect peoples emergency contact information. She estimated that about half of her neighbors are staying and the other half are leaving town.

Mr. and Ms. Cole said that they have been following the news and listened to the governor speak on Saturday morning. They said that they feel like they are prepared to weigh out the storm, even though they have had invitations to stay with friends farther from the coast. They said that they wanted to stay with their cats and stay home to make sure that the water pump was keeping their home dry.

“I think after the mess with Katrina, everybody is taking extreme caution. Nobody wants to be unprepared,” Mr. Cole said.

Ms. Cole said that she planned to go on a bike ride Saturday afternoon before the rain starts to survey the neighborhood.

Make that no transit after 8 a.m. Sunday in Boston. After announcing plans to close shop for the day due to Irene, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority amends plans so that health- workers in the area — home to several major hospitals — can get to work.

“At the request of health care institutions in Greater Boston, the MBTA has agreed to provide service – on all modes – until 8:00 a.m. Sunday,” the transit agency says. After that, trains and busses stop rolling with a goal of resuming normal service for the Monday-morning commute.

Even after the hurricane blows past Delaware and heads north to New York City Sunday morning,  residents should stay off the roads while crews begin cleanup, Sussex County Administrator David B. Baker said shortly after 10 p.m. Violators face a fine between $50 and $500, and up to six months in jail.

“We realize that once the clouds clear and the sun comes out, the public will be anxious to get back to their homes and businesses,” Baker said. “But for the public’s sake, for their safety and for the safety of our first responders and recovery crews, the public should not be on the road until the governor has given the all clear.”

Across the Delaware beaches and the surrounding towns, power lines and trees are down as a result of the hurricane, which is expected to continue pouring heavy rain in the region throughout the night with strong winds and a 3 to 6 foot storm surge, Baker said.

The National Weather Service issued two more tornado warnings Saturday night for Ocean and Burlington counties, an indication that damaging winds are moving north up the NJ coast and west, nearing Trenton, Camden and Philadelphia.

Roads have also been closed in Point Pleasant, N.J., in Ocean County as well as in Bay Head, an affluent neighboring town on the coast.

Donna Flynn, public information officer for Ocean County, said they are seeing localized flooding, and falling trees are blocking roads.

Stronger rain bands are also reaching towards Philadelphia, bringing flash floods and downed trees and utility wires.

The National Weather Service issued two more tornado warnings Saturday night for Ocean and Burlington counties, an indication that damaging winds are moving north up the NJ coast and west, nearing Trenton, Camden and Philadelphia.

Roads have also been closed in Point Pleasant, N.J., in Ocean County as well as in Bay Head, an affluent neighboring town on the coast.

Donna Flynn, public information officer for Ocean County, said they are seeing localized flooding, and falling trees are blocking roads.

Stronger rain bands are also reaching towards Philadelphia, bringing flash floods and downed trees and utility wires.

The National Weather Service issued two more tornado warnings Saturday night for Ocean and Burlington counties, an indication that damaging winds are moving north up the NJ coast and west, nearing Trenton, Camden and Philadelphia.

Roads have also been closed in Point Pleasant, N.J., in Ocean County as well as in Bay Head, an affluent neighboring town on the coast.

Donna Flynn, public information officer for Ocean County, said they are seeing localized flooding, and falling trees are blocking roads.

Stronger rain bands are also reaching towards Philadelphia, bringing flash floods and downed trees and utility wires.

A seemingly frustrated Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano prepared residents of this western Long Island region for the possibility of widespread power outages, flooding and a “significant disruption to life” late Saturday as hurricane Irene careened towards the area.

Saying the defiance of people who refused to leave the mandatory evacuation zones “defies logic at this point,” Mr. Mangano announced that National Guard troops were taking positions along the vulnerable southern and northern shores as the “life threatening storm” hurtled towards the Greater New York Area.

He said nine high-axle national guard vehicles have been deployed to the south shore, an area populated by more than 300,000 people – thousands of whom live on the barrier island that comprises Lido, Atlantic and Long beaches and Point Lookout.

Mr. Mangano said it was impossible to know how many people heeded the call the leave, but it was clear many had decided to stay.

“I hope those who stayed behind are able-bodied people,” he said, adding that their defiance was endangering themselves and first responders.

Three national Guard vehicles have also been deployed to low lying areas of the north shore, where pockets are under a mandatory evacuation order because they are in storm surge areas. The troops are coordinating with local police and fire departments, Mr. Mangano said.

“We have prepared you the best that government can to face this hurricane that appears to be heading towards us,” he said.

Early indications show that Nassau County is already feeling the affects of the sustained rain Saturday.

About 500 customers were without power and several roads were experiencing “minor flooding,” Mr. Mangano said.

Several thousand people have sought refuge at the 20 shelters established around the county, places that Mr. Mangano described as “survival stations” not “comfort stations.” He said they are places of “last resort.”

He urged late evacuees to seek shelter with friends and family but noted the shelters are well staffed and supplied.

Mr. Mangano said a house fire in East Meadow was caused by candle use, a practice he discouraged and urged people to use flashlights instead.

PSE&G is reporting about 41,000 customers without power due to the heavy winds and driving rain caused by Hurricane Irene. All but 1,000 of the outages are in the company’s southern territory, which includes Mercer, Burlington, Camden and Gloucester counties. The utility provides electric service to 2.2 million customers.

Hurricane Irene’s center has moved north of Norfolk, Va., but the storm is still “drenching” Mid-Atlantic states, according to the 11 p.m. bulletin of the National Hurricane Center.

The storm, still packing consistent 80-mile-per-hour gusts, veered east of the Delmarva Peninsula – named so because it contains portions of Delaware, Maryland and Virginia – and continued heading north-to-northeast at 16 miles per hour. The northeastern tip of Maryland remains 70 miles away, while New York City is still about 255 miles northward, according to the bulletin.

Hurricane Irene’s gradual cruise up the Eastern Seaboard has led to the formation of large waves, which will cause “life-threatening surf and rip current conditions,” according to the bulletin.

As lightning bolts started to strike, booms of thunder started to sound and rain began to pour in Connecticut on Saturday night, some 2,300 residents in New London, Conn. are without power as Hurricane Irene steadily moves toward the state, according to an executive from Connecticut Light and Power, who appeared on local news reports.

Connecticut Light and Power said in a post on Twitter earlier Saturday night that it that it is working with state officials to coordinate efforts and that support crews are arriving from as far away as Florida, Ohio and Michigan.

The Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence has issued a dispensation, releasing Rhode Island’s faithful from Mass obligations during Hurricane Irene.

In a statement, the Most Rev. Thomas J. Tobin said “in light of the predicted arrival of Hurricane Irene and the dangers associated with that storm, and in accordance with Canon 87 of the Code of Canon Law, Catholics in the Diocese of Providence are hereby dispensed from the obligation of attending Holy Mass on the weekend of August 27-28, 2011.”

Boston and New York archdioceses are urging caution. In a statement posted on the Web site of the Archdiocese of New York, Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan said “Catholics take Sunday mass very seriously, but the Church never asks us to risk our health or safety to get to church on the Lord’s Day. Please be careful! Do not take any chance with your safety and health if things get dangerous.”

Deputy Coordinator for the Burlington County, NJ Office of Emergency Management Steve King tells WSJ’s Christopher Rhoads that the newest rain estimates for Hurricane Irene will be higher than expected and could lead to record flood levels in the state. Watch the video.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg urges New Yorkers to remain inside as the hurricane Irene passes through Saturday night into Sunday afternoon. Watch the video.

Jersey City, N.J., police banned driving after midnight and will re-evaluate at 7 a.m. Sunday, city officials said.

Large parts of New Jersey’s second-biggest city are in flood-prone areas. The city also closed the Carson Nguyen Bridge. The city had ordered mandatory evacuations for some ground-floor residents.

Major roads around the Garden State are becoming impassable. For example, in Bergen County, flooding closed U.S. 46 in both directions in Little Ferry. In Newark, an exit ramp on Interstate 280 was closed, and two lanes of U.S. 22 were flooded. In New Brunswick, N.J. 27 was closed in both directions.

In Hoboken, where bad flooding was feared, residents evacuated from one shelter to go to another in East Rutherford, Mayor Dawn Zimmer wrote on Twitter.

State Police spokesman Julian Castellanos said flooding and visibility is a problem. The saturated ground could cause falling trees, he said.

“Please make every effort to stay off the roadways throughout the night,” he wrote in a statement. “If you are at a residence other than your own try to make arrangements to stay there and re-evaluate the situation in the morning.”

Weather forecasts are predicting epic rainfall along the Eastern Seaboard through Monday. But will the downpours rewrite the history books?

To do so, Hurricane Irene’s actual rainfall must hit the top end of the precipitation forecast. In Atlantic City, N.J., the downpour must exceed it.

Hurricane Irene is expected to bring six to 12 inches of rain over the next 48 hours to mid-Atlantic states, eastern New York and New England, according to the National Hurricane Center’s most recent bulletin.

The rainfall records range from a low of 8.64 inches in Wilmington, Del. (Sept. 17, 1999), to as much as 13.76 in Atlantic City, N.J. (Aug. 22, 1997), according to data compiled by the Northeast Region Climate Center at Cornell University.

BRIDGEHAMPTON, N.Y. — Hurricane Irene is approaching this quiet, agricultural and vacation-home community in eastern Long Island, at a difficult time for the country: in the midst of a long economic downturn. Richard G. Hendrickson, a local chicken farmer who operates the town’s official weather station and who knows from hurricanes, can remember the last time a big storm hit the area during a financial crists. He was 26 years old. And the year was 1938.

Mr. Hendrickson, who next week turns 99 yearls old, was examining the poultry stock on his farm with several scientists from his alma mater, Cornell University, when the storm hit. The foundations of his chicken coop began to shake.

“In 1938 everyone thought it was going to be a storm … The idea of a severe hurricane, because we hadn’t had one in such a long time, many people couldn’t believe it,” Mr. Hendrickson recalls.

But the 1938 storm, nicknamed the Yankee Clipper or the Long Island Express (the practice of giving hurricanes human names dates back to 1941, according to the National Weather Service) turned out to be the most damaging storm New England has ever seen. It made landfall September 21st on Long Island at Category 3 on the Saffir-Simpson scale, then moved inland through New England, killling more than 600 people and causing the equivalent of more than $40 billion of damage in today’s dollars. Irene is currently approaching Long Island at a Category 1 level.

“I dont think it’s as severe as we’ve been led to believe it will be,” Mr. Hendrickson said of Irene. “I don’t think it has the velocity.” He guesses it will only carry 3/4 of the force — or less — of the 1938 storm.

How does he know? Partly by watching news reports on television. But also, because Mr.Hendrickson has been keenly aware of weather conditions on the island for more than three quarters of a century.

Twice a day, every day of the week since 1935 — or so he claims — Mr. Hendrickson has checked weather conditions including temperature, wind speed, wind direction and barometric pressure of Bridgehampton’s air, at a makeshift weather station at his farm that is operated in conjunction with the National Weather Surface. On the desk in his study, which is packed with historic photos,antique pistols and muskets, framed award certificates that Mr. Hendrickson has received from the Commerce Department for his sky-watching efforts and back issues of niche hobbyist and collector magazines, sits a neat stack of daily weather log-books, dating back to the very bedinning.

In 1996 he published “Winds of the Fishes Tails,” a history of weather patterns in Eastern Long Island and of the 1938 hurricane.

So what does a man who knows more about the weather in his hometown than anyone in history do to prepare himself for an oncoming hurricane? He cuts back some tree branches from the sides of his house, makes sure his newly-installed tiled roof is in order, and makes a realistic game plan for outlasting the rain and wind: “I’m going to sit inside and behave myself.”

In Florence, NJ, in a megachurch that had been converted into a shelter, about a dozen residents from the surrounding area braced themselves against the buffeting wind and rain of the approaching storm.

Lauren DeWitt, 23, and her fiancée 25-year-old William DeVall came with their three cats, dog and a rabbit. The couple live with their animals in a trailer in nearby Wrightstown. They felt they and their pets would be safer in the shelter of the church, called the Fountain of Life Center.  

Mr. DeVall, a disabled, two-tour veteran of the Iraq war, said they hoped to be able to return home on Sunday. But since the expected flooding can be delayed by 12 to 24 hours, due to the time needed for the waters to build and overflow, the could be here longer, he said.

Dominique Patterson, listening to gospel music on her laptop, said  the tornado was the last straw in the decision come here.

“We just had an earthquake, so the tornado was was it for me,” said Ms Patterson, 17, who was joined by her boyfriend, his mother and her father in the shelter.

More than 8,300 Con Edison customers are without power on Staten Island as of 2 a.m., as Hurricane Irene arrives in the New York area, according to the utility’s online outage map.

Staten Island, a New York City borough home to about half a million people, includes many low-lying areas that are mandatory evacuation zones.

Con Edison encourages city residents to report electrical problems at:

After 3 a.m. in Upper Manhattan, the only vehicles on the road appeared to be police cars and the occasional taxi cab. One cab driver, Umer Mohammed, said he had been working since 6 p.m., picking up about 25 fares. “It was too boring sitting at home, so I got in my car,” he said.

Mr. Mohamed said he was hoping to make extra cash in anticipation of celebrating the end of Ramadan on Tuesday. New York City’s Taxi and Limousine Commission is allowing cab drivers this weekend to pick up multiple fares at once, and Mr. Mohammed said his evening had been more lucrative than usual, though he declined to reveal his haul.

One fare overnight sent Mr. Mohammed down the Long Island Expressway in Queens, where wind gusts shook his car. “That made me think I should go home, maybe,” he said, still on the road hours after the incident.

Hurricane Irene is moving along the shore of New Jersey and is expected to move near New York City and over New England Sunday, according to a bulletin issued at 5:40 a.m. by the National Hurricane Center.

The storm has maximum sustained winds of 75 miles per hour, and is expected to weaken further as it moves inland, dropping to a tropical storm by Sunday or early Monday.

EAST LYME, Conn., — Emergency personal are reporting power outages throughout East Lyme, Conn., which sits along the shore in the Southeast corner of the state, as gusts of wind pick up and bands of rain start to fall more strongly.

Power lines are down throughout the tree-lined roads in the town, and there was a transformer explosion at the Hole in the Wall town beach.

Connecticut Light and Power is reporting power outages across the state as of 6:45 a.m. on Sunday, with more than 170,000 customers reported to be without power in the state.

Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy is expected to hold a press conference at 7 a.m. on Sunday from the state’s emergency operations center.

Public Service Electric & Gas, New Jersey’s largest power supplier, said about 213,000 of  its 2.2 million customers are without power across the state, and outages are increasing. The utility warned customers to “be prepared for potentially lengthy outages” that could take as long as a week.

Outages are being caused by falling trees and limbs, a particular concern for officials. Wet weather ahead of Irene had already softened up the ground in many parts of the state, making the root systems of trees less able to hold through the tropical-storm force winds brought by the storm.

The storm surge has reached four to five feet, with high tide still to come to the shoreline at about 11.15 am. A five-foot surge was recorded during the 1992 noreaster that became known as “The Perfect Storm.” Winds are about 50 miles an hour, and 75 miles an hour are expected around 11 am.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy announced in a 7 am press conference that he has ordered a tractor trailer ban on all roads.

One death has been reported in Connecticut because of Hurricane Irene, Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy said during a press conference at 7 a.m. on Sunday morning.

He said that initial reports from police were that the cause of the death was a fire because of a downed wire. He said that the fatality happened in Prospect, Conn.

“What concerns me most is the loss of life,” he said. “Our fear is what happens as additional water accumulates and gusts of winds take down limbs or whole trees … We cannot gaurd every downed tree. We cannot gaurd every downed wire.”  

Gov. Malloy said that there are about 200,000 residences in the state are without power, with outages concentrated along the shore. He also reported gusts of wind in excess of 50 miles per hour, with downed trees and flooding across the state.

He also said that the state has instituted a ban of tractor trailers on all roads across the state. He also said that the Merritt and Wilber Cross Parkways are closed until further notice.

“The storm is beginning to make its way through the state, and there is absolutely no reason to be out on the roads” he said in a statement. “There are substantial concerns about driver safety and we need to keepthe roads clear for emergency personnel.”

Thirty-two municipalities in the state have instituted evacuations, and about 1,600 people stayed in shelters on Saturday night, the governor said. The state has 900 National Guards at their posts, ready to respond, Gov. Malloy said.

The coast of Maine will be closed to all shell-fishing as of 12:01 p.m. today, Sunday, “because of pollution expected from heavy rainfall and coastal flooding caused by Hurricane Irene,” according to an emergency order from the Maine Department of Marine Resources.

Lobster fishermen, who have been hauling in record numbers of lobster lately, are hauling and moving their traps to get them out of harm’s way until Irene passes by the state.

Severe high winds from Hurricane Irene knocked out power to 72,000 customers in New York City and Westchester County, Con Edison said Sunday morning.

The storm has toppled trees and power lines throughout the utility’s service area, most extensively in Queens, where an estimated 25,000 customers lost power.

As of 7 a.m., there were 16,000 outages on Staten Island; 6,000 in Brooklyn; 4,500 in the Bronx; and 16,000 in Westchester County. There were minimal outages in Manhattan.

Con Edison has secured the assistance of 400 crews from across the country to help with repairs. Once the winds and rain subside, officials said, crews will work aggressively to restore power as quickly as possible.

As the storm approached, Mayor Michael Bloomberg warned New Yorkers who live in areas with above-ground power lines that they may lose power. Some New Yorkers, he said, could expect outages to continue into the work week.

About 9,000 homes were without power in parts of southern and western Rhode Island, a spokeswoman for utility National Grid said Sunday morning.

At about 7:15 am eastern time, the outages were primarily in East Greenwich, Middletown, Westerly and Warwick, the spokeswoman said.

Hurricane Irene is beginning to blow into the region, with wind gusts and bands of occasionally heavy rain hitting Providence.

NEW BERN, NC–Hurricane Irene claimed at least five lives in North Carolina and 454,000 state residents were still without electricity early Sunday, according to state emergency officials.

Emergency crews were heading out across the eastern part of North Carolina to assess damage from Irene, which raked the coast with heavy rain and powerful winds Saturday and sent storm surges inland before taking aim at the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast.

Some counties in North Carolina suffered “quite a bit of flooding” from the tropical storm, said Marge Howell, a spokeswoman for the state’s emergency management division.

“It’s more flood damage than wind, although we have a lot of trees down in the eastern part of the state,” said Ms. Howell.

She stressed storm damage assessments were just getting underway Sunday, after Irene lingered over North Carolina much of Saturday.

Halfway up North Carolina’s coast, where Irene made landfall around 7:30 a.m. Saturday, the sun was shining and the wind and rain were gone early Sunday morning.

In New Bern, about 30 miles inland, people were taking their dogs for walks along a river bank that had overflowed Saturday from a storm surge before receding.

The river had threatened to flood the ground floor of a Hilton hotel, which sustained an estimated $1 million in damage from roof leaks after storm-force wind and rain pounded New Bern for about 12 hours.

The Department of Defense overnight named four “dual-status” military commanders to oversee both federal active-duty forces and state National Guard units in regions hit by the hurricane.

Activation of the commanders marks the first real-world test of a concept that is supposed to help streamline crisis response between state and federal agencies. According to a Pentagon news release, dual-status commanders are tasked with ensuring that state and federal military forces don’t duplicate their efforts, when states request federal military assistance through the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The four commanders are Brig. Gen. James Trogden of the North Carolina Army National Guard; Brig. Gen. Carolyn Protzmann, of the New Hampshire Air National Guard; Brig. Gen. Michael Swezey, of the New York Army National Guard; and Col. Donald Lagor, of the Rhode Island Air National Guard.

The concept was formally adopted in March, when the Defense Department, Homeland Security Department, and the bipartisan Council of Governors endorsed a joint action plan.

Downed power lines, small areas of flooding and fallen branches are dotting Atlantic City, N.J., though the massive storm surge that some predicted could swamp the city so far hasn’t materialized.

“We came out pretty good with everything that happened,” said Jerry McCarthy, an Atlantic City resident that decided to ride out the storm with his wife and two children.

The McCarthy’s didn’t lose electricity, but they slept downstairs on their three couches because they were worried about the high winds.

“It was a little windy, and it got a little shaky, so we went to the couch,” Mr. McCarthy said. He put on the TV and  watched the news through the night.

The north side of town fared a bit worse. Jonas Haws, battalion chief stationed at Engine House No. 7 on Atlantic Ave. said electricity was out through the night. At 10:30 p.m. as he looked out from the station, a massive gust–what might have been a tornado, he said–pulled down power lines while a row of transformers atop utility poles exploded in a burst of sparks.

“I sat and watched one transformer after another transformer blow out. It almost looked like there was a little twister. They popped like a fireworks show,” said Mr. Haws.

Shore Memorial Hospital never lost power. The hospital is on the south side of the island near the bridge to Ocean City, and treated 27 emergency patients throughout the night, including one 76-year-old woman that suffered cardiac arrest. Ron Johnson, Chief Executive of the hospital, said she had recovered.

“There is a light sprinkle right now, a light breeze. There is no flooding immediately around the hospital, and it looks like it is getting better every minute,” Mr. Johnson said. He was able to get a few hours of sleep on one of the 40 cots the hospital had stocked for an emergency.

Allyn Seel, Atlantic City’s deputy director of emergency management, remained in his command post. He warned that high tide could still bring additional flooding later this morning, but that so far the city seems to have ridden out the storm fairly well.

The number of people in New York City’s emergency shelters increased to 9,600 as of early Sunday morning, still less than 15% of the total shelter capacity available in the five boroughs.

Late Saturday night, after beseeching New Yorkers in low-lying areas to follow an unprecedented mandatory evacuation order, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the time for evacuation had ended. He urged New Yorkers, no matter where they were in the city, to remain indoors and ride out the storm.

City Hall does not have any firm numbers on how many of the 370,000 people ordered to evacuate complied, but the mayor said Saturday night that he believes his administration did everything it could to encourage people to move to higher ground.

Officials expected most people in New York City would find lodging with friends and family. For those who needed a place to sleep, the city opened 91 evacuation centers and emergency shelters, with space available for roughly 70,000.

HOLTSVILLE, N.Y. — Nearly 300,000 people were without power on Long Island Sunday morning, according to a spokesman for the Long Island Power Authority. That number was expected to rise.

More than a quarter of Connecticut Light and Power customers, or more than 250,000 units, are without power as of 8 a.m. on Sunday in advance of Hurricane Irene’s arrival in the state, according to the state’s major utility company, Connecticut Light and Power.

The utility company, which serves 1.2 million customers in the state, said that it had more than 800 crews on standby, waiting for the storm to pass. It advised people to stay away from downed power lines. Earlier in the morning, Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy reported that there was one death in the state because of a fire from a downed wire.

TRENTON, NJ — More than 400,000 people in New Jersey are without power, while 15,000 people are in more than 45 shelters, as Hurricane Irene’s effect gets worse in the Garden State, Gov. Chris Christie said.

Mr. Christie described “record flooding,” particularly in areas along rivers such as Bound Brook and Pompton Plains. More than 2,000 National Guard soldiers and airmen were in the state, with some doing rescue missions. The Associated Press reported that two emergency divers themselves had to be rescued from the Princeton area.

Northern New Jersey power company PSE&G said it would shut down a generating station in Jersey City because of a serious flooding condition, which would affect customers in Journal Square and the west side and downtown areas of the state’s second-largest city. The company is also expected to shot down a power substation in Hoboken, which will affect 8,000 customers in Hoboken and Jersey City, a Jersey City spokeswoman said.

In Hoboken, officials said live electrical wires were down in flooded areas and urged people to stay off the streets. “Electrocution is possible,” a city statement said. “Do not walk your dogs.”

Even before the storm surge hit Staten Island, major streets in the borough were already submerged in water.

In Bay Terrace, a neighborhood that struggles with flooding in ordinary storms, streets were blocked off and a lone car was buried in water above its windows.

In Tottenville, a southern town bordering both the Raritan Bay and Arthur Kill Waterway, the beach had completely eroded before the storm surge, with waves crashing onto neighboring blocks. Sewers and in-ground swimming pools were overflowing Sunday morning, and neighbors worked to pump them out using generator power. Parts of Tottenville have been without power since Saturday night.

Downed trees and branches lined Hylan Boulevard, Staten Island’s main drag, which extends from the South Shore all the way to the Verrazano Bridge.

In South Beach, water began overflowing under the boardwalk early Sunday morning, spilling onto Father Cappodano Boulevard. At 8 a.m., police responded to a call on Richmond Avenue and Richmond Hill Road where a passenger was stuck in a car and water was flooding in.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration has kept open all city bridges spanning the East River throughout the storm, a sign that Hurricane Irene might not have as significant an impact on New York City as officials initially anticipated.

The only bridges that closed were the three spans to the Rockaways in Queens. That happened at 2 a.m. Sunday, officials confirmed. The mayor had ordered the entire Rockaways peninsula to be evacuated by 5 a.m. Saturday, and he estimated on Saturday that 80% of the people there complied.

Cas Holloway, the newly minted deputy mayor for operations, said the city has been monitoring wind speeds, downed trees, damage and calls for emergency services throughout the night.

“There has not been any uptick of EMS calls beyond what we would expect,” he said on New York 1. “Fire calls, which encompass trees down, wires down, manholes, they’re up by about 50%. We’ve had about 2,800.”

But Mr. Holloway said there are no reports of major injuries or deaths in the five boroughs. Officials remain concerned about flooding from a storm surge in low-lying areas Sunday morning.

Nearly 14,000 people in Massachusetts and 200 in southern New Hampshire were without power this morning as wind and rain from Irene moved in, according to National Grid. The outages are spread through Massachusetts but the suburbs northwest of Boston were particularly hard hit.

Forced to flee her Kips Bay apartment near the East River, June Kim wound up without a place to stay. But after a night spent in the basement gym of the Baruch College evacuation center she was ready to leave.

“We just want to go home,” said Kim, 31 years old, who donned a clear poncho and braved the scathing winds at 8:20 a.m.

Another woman, who wished to remain anonymous, said she was also antsy to get out, but would stay until it was safe.

“I’m not used to this — I’m not used to this communal way of living,” said the woman, whose Waterside Plaza building complex was evacuated. She said she had family and friends in several different boroughs, but wanted to stay close to home to avoid messy commute problems Monday. She works at a college.

“I didn’t really want to take a chance,” said the woman about evacuating her apartment, which is above the tenth floor. She picked up Chinese takeout on her way to the center at 7:30 p.m. Saturday. “I listened to the mayor, the governor and everyone on T.V. and I was scared.”

A “boil water” advisory has been issued for parts of Essex and Union counties in New Jersey, the New Jersey American Water company said.

People in West Orange, Short Hills, Millburn, Maplewood, Irvington, Springfield and Summit were told to boil water before using, after the Canoe Brook water treatment plant was “inundated,” the company said.

The company emphasized that the boil water alert was standard procedure. To make sure water is safe, heat water to a roiling boil for one minute, then allow it to cool before using it for drinking, brushing teeth or washing food.

The north tube of the Holland Tunnel between Lower Manhattan and New Jersey has been closed because of flooding, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said.

Con Edison said Sunday morning there is still a strong possibility that the utility will deliberately shut down power in Lower Manhattan and other areas as officials continue to monitor the storm.

“We’re still in the middle of looking at it now,” said Alfonso Quiroz, a Con Ed spokesman. “It all really depends on how high the water level gets. The surge is hitting now.”

The utility has “storm riders” throughout the region. “They are in each one of our facilities, either it’s a person or a camera, or another type of device, that we have to monitor how high the water level is getting. And if we feel that the water level is getting to a point where it’s too high, we will start shutting down areas of the city. That’s Brooklyn, Manhattan, all the other low-lying areas.”

Mr. Quiroz said a deliberate shutdown, if deemed necessary, is helpful because it expedites restoration when the storm ends.

“It’s an absolute possibility,” Mr. Quiroz said of the precautionary shutdown, based on conditions shortly before 9 a.m.

Con Edison currently has 85,000 customers in the region who have lost power because of high winds. Officials expect that number to increase. Restoration could take anywhere from a few days to a week.

PROVIDENCE, RI — Trees branches were down and power was out in parts of central Providence on Sunday morning, as Hurricane Irene began to move in.

Homes and street lights in the College Hill section of the city lost power around 8:30 am Eastern time.

Meanwhile, the nearby Fox Point Hurricane Barrier, run by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, was closed to protect against a storm surge.

Frank Poirot with Connecticut Light and Power told the local NBC affiliate that power outages are heaviest along the shore in the Southeast portion of Connecticut. He said that the largest concern now is that there are multiple trees down and that it will be difficult to get to areas where restoration work needs to be done.

NEW BERN, N.C. — Emergency teams carried out more than 100 high-water rescues in this area just off North Carolina’s central coast Saturday as Hurricane Irene’s storm surge triggered inland flooding. But as of Sunday morning there were no reports of any deaths in Craven County, pop. 100,000, where the rescues took place, said county manager Harold Blizzard.

Most of the flooding was caused as Irene pushed water from the Atlantic Ocean into Pamlico Sound and other inlets and rivers.

Some of the rescues were in New Bern, the county seat, about 30 miles inland from where Irene made landfall early Saturday. County rescue teams used boats and vehicles as the storm surge pushed up the sound and into Neuse River.

About 80% of the county was still without power Sunday morning, and it could take “days” before it’s fully restored, said Mr. Blizzard.

About 400 residents spent Saturday night in county emergency shelters but more than half had left Sunday morning to check on their homes.

But emergency officials said they were still trying to assess the damage after Irene raked the area with powerful rains and heavy winds all day Saturday.

A photographer in Morehead City, on North Carolina’s central coast where Irene made landfall, said there were no signs of any floodwaters on that town’s main streets early Sunday.

Damage to structures also appeared minor in he community of about 8,500 residents. But the facade of a First Citizens Bank had been peeled off and Irene also had stripped metal siding off a dry-storage building for boats at a local marina, according to the photographer, who is on assignment for The Wall Street Journal.

Local television station images also suggested only minor damage on Atlantic Beach, a smaller community on a thin barrier island just off Morehead City.  Part of a pier on the island was ripped apart by Irene.

NEEDHAM, MASS. — Irene-related power outages in Massachusetts are starting to mount, with the three main electric utilities reporting about 34,000 customers off line. Among them, National Grid reports more than 17,500 Massachusetts customers out, including outages north of Boston, south of the city and in the western suburbs. Nstar says 14,000 of its customers are off line, including concentrations on Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and around New Bedford on the state’s southern coast.

Meanwhile, Boston’s mass transit agency shut operations this morning as planned. And for good reason: The agency’s general manager tweeted a picture soon thereafter of a tree down on the trolley tracks west of the city.

Irene has been downgraded to a tropical storm and moved over New York City at about 9 a.m. Eastern, according to the National Weather Service.

“Reports from an Air Force hurricane hunter aircraft and National Weather Service Doppler radar indicate that the center of Irene moved over New York City around 9:00 a.m. EDT,” the National Hurricane Center said. The estimated intensity of winds at landfall was 65 mph. For the full statement, go here.

Impatient New Yorkers are itching to know when subway service will be restored. As of 9:30 a.m., the Metropolitan Transportation Authority is staying mum on the ETA. Officials are recommending — yes, you guessed correctly — patience.

Officials said it was premature to say when subway, train and bus service will be restored. Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is expected to provide an official update between noon and 1 p.m., has warned New Yorkers for days that they should expect not to have MTA service for the Monday morning commute. If service can somehow be restored by Monday morning, the mayor has said, it will be a pleasant surprise.

In a statement, the MTA said the process of assessing damage from the storm cannot safely begin until the storm passes. Thousands of workers and equipment have been positioned at key locations, allowing the agency to begin the restoration slog when conditions permit.

“There are already reports of flooding and downed trees across the region, and the storm surge and heavy rains may cause additional widespread flooding, mudslides, washouts, fallen trees and downed power lines  that wreak havoc on the MTA’s signals, tracks, stations, under-river tunnels, catenary wires and other infrastructure,” the MTA said in a statement.

“Significant repairs” may be necessary, the agency warned, and restoration will certainly be a “lengthy process.”

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — Wind, rain, and flooding remain “major concerns” in Western Massachusetts, said Peter Sullivan, deputy director of parks and buildings in Springfield, a city of 150,000 people along the Connecticut River.

The wind-fueled rains were already dousing roads and causing isolated flooding and downed trees. Small whitecaps churned on the Connecticut.

“There is a greater chance of trees going over because of roots getting saturated from the amount of rain we’re getting,” Mr. Sullivan said.

Springfield officials are monitoring local streams and rivers and have lowered the level of a lake and dam to allow for more room for rain water.

WASHINGTON — The biggest concern for New York from Irene–recently downgraded to a tropical storm–is potential flooding from a storm surge, the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency said Sunday.

“You don’t want to let your guard down,” FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate said on Fox News Sunday.

Fugate said the big question facing New York and Long Island as the storm passes over is the amount of storm surge.

“They’re running at a high tide now as the storm passes through the area,” he said, recommending that people in the immediate path of the storm remain inside until it passes over.

Emergency officials will have a better idea later Sunday or Monday about how long it will take to restore power, he said.

“Part of it is going to come down to how much damage do we actually have to the system versus how much is caused by just system trips,” he said.

About 18,600 households on Staten Island are without power today, says Staten Island Councilman Vincent Ignizio. He estimates that about 80,000 of the island’s 480,000 residents are affected.

With much of the island without power, residents with flooding haven’t been able to use sump pumps to clear their basements, he says.

Charlie Cross, a Tottenville resident, used a power generator to pump water from his basement beginning at 8:30 p.m. Saturday. Tottenville lost power Saturday night.

He and neighbors scurried to borrow gas from others in the neighborhood to keep their generators going.

Staten Island has all above-ground electric lines, some of which have been downed by strong winds, says Councilman Ignizio.

Residents worked through the night to prevent flooding. Kevin Justesen, a 41-year-old school teacher, noticed a leaking skylight Saturday night. To the dismay of his pregnant wife, he climbed onto his roof during the storm to cover the skylight with a tent and bungee cords. “My wife told me if I do that again we’ll be getting divorced,” he joked on Sunday.

Dennis Ammirati, 44, says he’s been up for 24 hours manning his house. His basement is flooded despite the fact that he’d been pumping water from it since 2:30 a.m., he says. By 5 a.m., the water became too much to handle.  On Sunday, he was scouring the neighborhood for an adjustable wrench.

The New York State Thruway was closed Sunday between the West Nyack and Newburgh exits because of flooding, according to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office.

WASHINGTON – In a video update posted online Sunday morning, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley said that more than 200 roads across the state had been closed because of downed trees and power lines, sometimes complicated by flooding.

St. Mary’s County, in southern Maryland, was “very, very hard hit” by such damage, Mr. O’Malley said. But the Atlantic Coast resort of Ocean City, which was ordered evacuated ahead of the storm, weathered it well, with the beaches and boardwalk in good condition. Residents were allowed to return at 9:00 a.m. Sunday, the governor said, and the city would open to all at noon.

Hurricane Irene may have caused up to $400 million of insured losses in the Carolinas, according to a modeling company that estimates the cost of natural disasters.

Eqecat Inc. estimated the hurricane caused between $200 million and $400 million in insured losses in North and South Carolina, the first states impacted by Irene when it made landfall Saturday.

Though massive and slow moving, Irene’s damage estimate for the Carolinas is just a fraction of the cost to the insurance industry of Hurricane Floyd, the costliest storm in North Carolina’s history, which caused insured losses of $1.4 billion when it struck the state in 1999.

The Eqecat estimate squares with reports from coastal points in North Carolina, where it was reported that Irene had peeled off roof tiles, ripped away siding and sent debris flying through windows–but didn’t manage to wipe entire neighborhoods off the map. The storm delivered sustained winds of 85 miles an hour in parts of the state as it crossed from Cape Lookout to Kitty Hawk before finding the Atlantic Ocean again.

Still, Eqecat noted in an alert to clients that Irene “produced heavier than initially expected rain totals–including up to 20 inches in North Carolina and more than 9 inches in Virginia.”

The insured loss estimate doesn’t include flood damage caused by the so-called storm surge that Irene pushed inland as it advance northward. But the surge arrived at close to low tide, said Matthew Nielsen, of Risk Management Solutions Inc., another disaster-modeling company. That timing meant the surge didn’t reach too far inland as it washed ashore.

After Floyd, the federal government spent $463 million on claims paid by its National Flood Insurance Program, according to the Insurance Information Institute.

Insurers like Allstate, Travelers and USAA have positioned disaster-response teams along the East Coast so they can begin sending adjusters to the site of damaged homes as soon as Irene passes by.

State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance is the largest home insurer in the states in Irene’s path. Allstate ranks second by premium revenue, and Liberty Mutual Group is third, according to data collected by SNL Financial.

State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co. said Hurricane Irene had already prompted more than 3,500 home and auto insurance claims by Sunday afternoon.

State Farm is the largest home and auto insurer in the U.S., and the largest in the states affected by Irene. It had premiums of $5.2 billion in those states, according to data compiled by SNL Financial.

Shelters in Massachusetts received 181 people overnight, according to the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency.

As of 9:45 am, with wind and rain battering the region and power outages reported throughout the state, 71 people and 3 pets had fled to a shelter in Yarmouth, 15 people to a shelter in Falmouth, 13 to Harwich and 11 to Barnstable, according to the agency.

The numbers are likely to rise as the storm continues to result in power outages. In Tyngsboro, for example, 30% to 50% of residents were without power as of around 8 a.m., according to the agency.

TRENTON, NJ — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said damage in the state from Hurricane Irene could be in the “tens of billions of dollars.”

On several national cable shows, Mr. Christie estimated the cost would be at least $1 billion and said he would leave the State Police’s emergency operations center later to assess the damage.

“Inland, we’re going to have a lot of damage, too, from these river floodings,” he said on Meet the Press.

Mr. Christie has been advising residents to stay in their homes and said more people could have died if the state did not conduct an evacuation that moved more than 1 million people.

Areas of the Jersey Shore have been pounded by wind, rain and floods, while rivers throughout the state were expected to produce heavy flooding for several days after the storm had passed.

The state was soggy even before Irene from several rainstorms, and high tide only made things worse. The State Police expected the soaked ground to give way to trees across the state.

Kathy Cole and her husband Larry, whom the Journal reported on in this live blog Saturday, are now among the more than 400,000 Connecticut Light and Power customers without power in the state.

The retired couple live in the Giants Neck Beach neighborhood of Niantic, Conn., home to 196 picturesque New England summer homes and year-long residences next to private beaches along the Long Island Sound. Ms. Cole said that when she woke up at 5 a.m. on Sunday, the power was still on. But by 8 a.m., the electricity had died.

A few of their neighbors had boarded up houses on Saturday and about half decided to evacuate in preparation for Hurricane Irene. The neighborhood is accessible via one main tree-lined road that runs under the railroad, and people say that if there is any flooding or downed trees, that it could be hard to get out.

Ms. Cole said that as of 10 a.m. on Sunday morning, the wind was starting to pick up and trees were “starting to go wild.” A window in her house overlooks the Long Island Sound, and Ms. Cole took in the landscape. It was just about high tide, and she said that water covered the beach, flowing over the beach wall, starting to cover the nearest road, and flow about 30 to 50 feet away into the neighborhood duck pond.

Ms. Cole said that she can see people walking along the water. She saw a man walking his dogs, and a guy in flip flops and a T-shirt. Cars also are driving along the open roads. She said that the waves were extremely choppy, with lots of whitecaps.

“People are just walking around. When they say the power lines could come down or a tree … I don’t think I would want to be out there walking,” she said.She said that she hadn’t seen any downed trees or power lines.

Before she lost power, Ms. Cole said that she watched the TV weather reports and a movie. The couple had borrowed a generator from a friend to make sure that they could power a pump to keep their basement dry. Ms. Cole said they had yet to turn the generator on as of 10 a.m. “Our primary intent for the generator is for the pump … there is no point running the generator if the pump isn’t going to run.”

To pass the time, her husband is doing a crossword puzzle. A neighbor who also lost power and lives by herself came to stay with the couple.

“We’re concerned obviously. Especially when I got up it was pretty windy. It’s just one of those things that you have to just hope for the best. I feel secure in the house…hopefully the windows will hold up.”

Ms. Cole’s grandson, who is 14 years old, called earlier in the morning to see how she and her husband were doing. He lives in Chester, Conn. and also lost power. “He said he was bored,” she said.

Ms. Cole said she didn’t have any predictions for how long the power would be out. She said that she lived in Branford during Hurricane Gloria in 1985 and had power back within a couple of days. This year, she’s more leery. “I feel like we are more out in the boonies here.”

Ms. Cole is the Internet administrator for the neighborhood association and said that she has been sending out emails to collect peoples emergency contact information. She said that she had talked with one neighbor on Sunday morning, who said that their smoke alarms were all going off after the power outage.

Retailers up and down the East Coast have shut hundreds of stores, but aside from power outages and some flooding, damage to locations so far appears limited.

Wal-Mart Stores had 174 stores closed Sunday morning, and also told trucks to pull off the roads when winds hit 45 mph. The trucks are stocked with supplies like dry food and water.

Target has about 100 of its stores closed with decisions for reopenings or further closings to be based on the safety of employees and customers. The consideration for retailers includes the availability of electricity and peoples’ ability to get to stores.

As storm clouds started to thin in New York City, dogs and their owners started to emerge to a calm Gramercy Park.

Neighborhood resident Daphne Nash strolled with her 5-year-old Norwich Terrier, Clive, around the park.

“We thought we weren’t going to [allow] them out for 24 hours,” said the three year resident. “Now everybody’s out.”

Nash said she was going to take Clive for a short walk around the park. If rains hold up she will take him out for longer later.

“When it’s bad weather it’s the dog people who are out,” she said. Many more park regulars milled about with their dogs too.

More than 6,000 flights have been canceled on Sunday, with the heaviest shutdowns concentrated in Greater New York, Boston and Philadelphia, according to, a website that tracks flights.

Many East Coast airports remain open—albeit with empty runways—while others, in the Mid-Atlantic, are slowly re-launching service now that Hurricane Irene has moved northward.

The only flights Boston’s Logan International Airport might see on Sunday are two late-night international arrivals, said Phil Orlandella, an airport spokesman. U.S. carriers say they plan to resume operations as early as 6 a.m. Monday and no later than noon, the spokesman said.

Airlines have canceled more than 1,000 flights to and from Philadelphia International Airport, which closed Saturday night. The airport will remain closed until airport management and city officials can assess the damage, an airport spokeswoman said.

T.F. Green Airport, in Warwick, R.I., outside Providence, remains open in case of emergency but commercial flights on Sunday are cancelled, said Kevin Dillon, president and chief executive of the Rhode Island Airport Corp., which runs T.F. Green and five general aviation airports. Operations won’t resume until 9 a.m. on Monday, he said.

Some East Coast cities where Hurricane Irene has already passed are starting to ramp back up operations. Baltimore Washington International Airport said its operations are expected to “slowly” resume on Sunday. The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, which oversees Reagan National and Dulles International, said its airports are open with “no major damage” from Saturday’s storms, though cancellations are expected for Northeast travel.

The Federal Aviation Administration suspended air traffic control services at John F. Kennedy International, Newark Liberty International and LaGuardia airports on Saturday night. Airlines at those three airports have cancelled more than 3,000 flights on Sunday, according to FlightStats.

At Pittsburgh International Airport, where it’s sunny with no sign of storms, more than 60 commercial, military and private aircraft have been repositioned there, said an airport spokeswoman.

SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. — About 383,000 people in Long Island’s Nassau and Suffolk Counties are without power, according to the Long Island Power Authority. The worst-hit areas are in Brookhaven, Oyster Bay, Hempstead and North Hempstead.

According to an LIPA spokeswoman, crews will not be sent out to assess and repair damage until the center of the storm passes. Power will be restored first to hospitals, nursing homes and other critical care centers, and later to high-density residential circuits. Most hospitals on the island have already evacuated, or are running on backup generator power, the spokeswoman said.

Power has been shut off completely in Fire Island, Oak Island, Hatchery Island and Robert Moses Beach ahead of possible flooding. Those areas  are served by a particularly low-lying substation.

ConocoPhillips made a controlled shutdown of its 238,000 barrel-a-day refinery in Linden, N.J., because of storm conditions brought about by Hurricane Irene, the company said Sunday.

ConocoPhillips also was preparing to shut down its fuel terminals in the region until it deemed it safe to resume operations.

“Based on the current projected path of the storm, the refinery has safely been shut down until it is safe to resume operations,” Conoco spokeswoman Janet Grothe said.

Other refineries and fuel shippers in the northeast were operating as normal Sunday after dealing with a diminished Irene.

ConocoPhillips’ 185,000 barrel-a-day refinery in Trainer, Penn., was “up and running” through the hurricane, a source familiar with the plants’ operations said. “It’s just like a little drizzle. A lot of over-hype on this one.”

The Trainer refinery was still operating at reduced at about 150,000 barrels a day, the reduced rate the refinery took as a safety precaution as the hurricane approached, the source said.

Colonial Pipeline said Sunday its 2.3 million barrel-a-day pipeline that delivers fuel from Gulf Coast refiners to the New York Harbor area operated with no interruptions to its main line during the hurricane. A smaller “stub line” running from Richmond to Norfolk has closed because of power outages in the area, Colonial spokesman Steve Baker said.

“Mainline service into Linden, N.J., and to all customers in the New York harbor area continue without interruptions due to weather,” Baker said Sunday.

Sunoco was operating its two Pennsylvania refineries as normal, company spokesman Thomas Golembeski said.

Coast Guard officials said no major damage has been detected so far at the Port of Hampton Roads in Virginia, which remains closed Sunday as maritime officials conduct a closer inspection following Hurricane Irene.

Coast Guard Capt. Mark Ogle said three sailboats needed rescues or assistance as the storm struck southeastern Virginia, but overall the shipping area, which is home to many Navy ships as well as busy container terminals – seemed to have handled the storm well.

“We were pretty happy,’’ said Capt. Ogle. “We’re getting minor reports from our facilities along the coast. Hopefully, that’s an indication that the damage throughout the area is not that great.’’

The Port of Hampton Roads was closed at midnight Friday and about 23 commercial vessels and 27 Navy ships are waiting offshore, he said.

Depending on how the damage assessments go throughout the day, some parts of the port could be operational by Sunday night, and the port could re-open Monday.

Capt. Ogle said he is still concerned about possible debris in the water, and asked that boaters stay off the water another day while the Coast Guard assesses the waterways.

At least 1 million electric customers in New Jersey and New York have lost power as tropical storm Irene pounded the area early Sunday, according to reports from officials and power companies.

As of 10:30 a.m. EDT, about 750,000 homes and businesses were without power across New York state, including more than 404,000 on Long Island, according to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

New Jersey’s Public Service Electric and Gas said early Sunday that about 250,000 of its 2.2 million electric customers are without power all over the state, and that number continues to grow as the storm moves north. An additional 70,000 customers have had their power restored already; the utility estimates that it might take up to a week to fully restore service.

Jersey Central Power and Light, a unit of FirstEnergy, has 262,000 customers without power in central and northern New Jersey, said spokesman Ron Morano. “We have widespread flooding, trees down, there are roads closed… we are having accessibility issues,” he said. It will take “several days at least” to restore power to all affected households, he added.

Atlantic City Electric, a subsidiary of Pepco Holdings, reported 91,272 customers without power in southern New Jersey.

ConEdison said that more than 72,000 customers in New York City and Westchester County lost power. According to a map of outages on the company’s website, New York City’s most affected borough was Queens, with 30,067 customers without power. The company said it expected to fully restore power there by Monday morning. The company said that about 95,000 of its customers were suffering outages.

The storm also left a trail of power outages affecting millions on its trail north since it landed in North Carolina Saturday.

Baltimore Gas and Electric reported 468,890 customers currently impacted by electric outages; an additional 95,096 customers have had their power restored. In the Washington D.C. area, Pepco reported 195,836 customers without electricity.

In Virginia and North Carolina, some 952,000 Dominion Resources Inc. customers were without power because of the storm, the company said. That’s up from 842,000 reported Saturday evening.

Evacuated residents may start to return to Battery Park City early Sunday afternoon, according to neighbors and building managers.

“Fortunately, it turned out to be a non event,” says Dan Lenahan, the manager of a high-rise apartment building overlooking the Hudson River. Mr. Lenahan shut down key electronic systems in the building like the elevator system and put sand bags down.

He alerted residents yesterday that they would need to vacate the building. The ones who decided to stay had their apartment doors marked with bright tape so that in the case of an emergency rescue workers would know which apartments had survivors in them.

Sunday morning at 10:30 a.m. the building began to restore elevator service and hot water. “I’d rather have done all the prep work and not need it then the alternative,” Mr. Lenahan says. “It looks like the sun might even peek through.”

The Securities and Exchange Commission has been keeping in touch this weekend with exchanges and firms about whether markets will open in New York on Monday in the wake of tropical storm Irene, a spokesman said Sunday.

“We have been in communication with the markets and securities firms since Friday and discussions will continue today as appropriate,” SEC spokesman John Nester told Dow Jones. “The decision whether to open will be made by the markets in consultation with the SEC.”

Downgraded from a hurricane to a tropical storm, Irene flooded some downtown streets of Manhattan as it passed over New York. Con Edison said Sunday morning there is still a strong possibility that the utility will deliberately shut down power in Lower Manhattan and other areas as officials continue to monitor the storm.

Still, New York Stock Exchange officials early Sunday said they were still planning for a normal trading day Monday, though final determinations are expected to be made Sunday afternoon after the impact of the storm has been assessed across the region.

Tropical Storm Irene’s center has moved north of New York City, according to an 11:00 a.m. advisory from the National Hurricane Center. The storm’s maximum sustained wind speeds are near 60 miles per hour, down from 65 mph at 9:00 a.m.

In Annapolis, Md., many trees crashed into power lines and across local roads overnight, but emergency crews had chainsawed pathways and utility crews were working to restore power shortly after sunrise.

Baltimore Gas and Electric reported 474,871 customers without power as of 10:38 a.m., mostly in Anne Arundel County, the region surrounding Annapolis, and Baltimore County. BG&E also reported it restored power to 109,658 customers since the storm began Saturday.

“Because BGE secured close to 1,000 external resources days before Hurricane Irene arrived in Maryland, in addition to its own employees and contractors, approximately 3,700 people are currently actively engaged in the restoration effort,”  A. Christopher Burton, senior vice president of gas and electric operations for BGE, said in a statement.

Burton said the damage was “severe and widespread and includes massive amounts of tree debris that will have to be removed before repair crews can begin the process of installing or repairing utility poles, wires and other equipment.”

In downtown Annapolis, there were few signs of major damage and no evidence of significant flooding overnight, despite a high tide that peaked shortly before dawn. Some shop owners on Main Street were in the process of opening for business. Only part of the historic district suffered power outages.

The evacuation center at Aviation High School in Queens prepared for hundreds of displaced New Yorkers but only got dozens.  

“We expected more,” said a deputy supervisor of the shelter. She noted the staff prepared to take in 350 people. But only 33 people sought refuge.   

“I guess people didn’t think it was going to be that bad. Thank God we didn’t need” all of the emergency set ups, she said.

She said they are already taking down the overflow rooms and are recommending that people stay until the winds calm down.  She also noted the school had some flooding in the cafeteria and basement.

The school was indeed very prepared.  They were equipped with a medical screening center a special needs room and even a pet service station.

Irene’s Massachusetts power outages are piling up. Utilities in the state report about 150,000 without service, including almost 100,000 for National Grid alone. Outages are scattered around the state. NStar, with around 41,000 customers off line in total, notes a heavy concentration in the New Bedford, Mass., area in the southern part of the state.

With Irene starting to pummel Connecticut, police in New London, Conn., are having a  hard time conveying the importance to people in the coastal city to stay home and off the streets in roadways, said Marshall Segar, deputy chief of police for the city.

He said that he has asked dozens of people, as many as 50 to 60 people in the last hour, to stay home. He said people are out in their cars and walking the streets to see what is happening with the storm.

“The wind is howling and the surf is pounding. We are asking people to stay at home, hunker down and not become a victim of the storm,” he said.

The city is experiencing significant power outages, with more than 30%, or 4,359, Connecticut Light and Power customers without electricity.

Mr. Segar said that there were reports of a downed power line on a truck outside of Connecticut College, but as of 11 a.m. there had not been any major injuries or accidents reported. He said that Pequot Ave., which runs alongside the Thames River and Long Island Sound in New London Harbor, is taking a beating from surges and rain water.

An aging bridge running along Great Egg Harbor River in New Jersey buckled under the force of tides, cracking the wooden bulkhead supporting the road and forcing a closure by Atlantic County officials.

Burt and Dawn Wright, who live about 100 yards from the bridge, said it has been scheduled for replacement for about seven years. They saw flooding up to their house Saturday night, which sits along English Creek, a tributary that runs into the harbor.

State officials are worried about flooding along New Jersey’s rivers as the torrential downpours brought by Irene begin flowing into already high waters.

The bridge, on county road 559 in Egg Harbor Township, is slumped slightly on its western side, but was passable before officials blocked off the road.

Not even a tropical storm could stop the tourists from taking over Times Square Sunday morning. Hundreds of tourists stuck in the city spilled out of their hotels into the streets after figuring out it was safe to be outside.

The shops and restaurants were still closed save for a few delis. But the visitors tried to make the most of their time in the city.

Tourists snapped pictures in the empty streets of the sandbag-fortified storefronts. Some people jogged in the streets. An impromptu game of whiffle ball broke out at the corner of Broadway and 46th Street.

“A wet day in London seems worse than this,” said Roger Goddard, 50, from the United Kingdom, dressed in shorts and sandals.

Mr. Goddard and his family were vacationing in New England and were supposed to fly out of Newark today. He still hasn’t been able to arrange a new flight home. “It’s not such a bad place to be stuck.”

Sarah Bollinger was snapping photos of the whiffle ball game and sipping on coffee from a nearby bodega. Ms. Bollinger, 23, was supposed to fly out of JFK on Saturday to return to her home in France after completing a four-month internship in Washington D.C. “Maybe I’ll go back to the hotel and chill out.”

At 10:45am, Brooklynites took advantage of a break in the storm to buy coffee at Konditori, a cafe on Park Slope’s 5th Avenue. Its owners drove in from Williamsburg to open for business.

NEW BERN, NC — Local shopkeepers and restaurant owners in this small riverfront city near North Carolina’s coast had their mops and brooms out Sunday, trying to clean up water and debris from Hurricane Irene.

A pecan tree felled by the storm punched a hole in the roof of Twice As Nice, a consignment store in a 200-year-old building downtown.

“The fire chief thinks it did about $50,000 worth of damage,” said Hilary Lang, the store’s owner, as she walked past some puddles on the store floor.

Some second-floor windows across the street were broken, including two at Morgan’s Tavern and Grill, where staff were sweeping tree debris on the street and filling up garbage pails.

Chris Zemla, a waiter, estimated water stood about a foot and a half deep in the restaurant Saturday. Much of it came up from the street, which flooded after the Trent and Neuse Rivers bordering New Bern overflowed.

But the flood waters had receded and the street and restaurant were mostly dry again Sunday morning. The winds also had departed and the sky was blue.

Ms. Lang even managed to make her first sale by mid-morning Sunday, as she took a break from mopping the floor.

New Bern is about 30 miles inland from where Irene made landfall early Saturday, halfway up North Carolina’s coast.

Parts of North Carolina had storm surges of as  as much eight feet Saturday. Some inland areas were flooded as high waves from the Atlantic Ocean pushed water deep into coastal sounds and inlets, before westerly winds pushed water back toward the ocean.

So it was somewhat surreal that the first big tree to fall as Irene moved into Springfield landed smack on his car, which was parked in front of his house.

“One of my trees came back and got me,” Mr. Dowd said, resting in a recliner in his den as he described how he was sleeping Sunday morning when a neighbor came over and told him to look outside.

City crews were busy with chainsaws on the huge hackberry tree, which had yanked up sidewalk as it toppled and crushed the front of Mr. Dowd’s silver Toyota wagon.

“You know, I was just talking about changing my car because it’s an ’03,” Mr. Dowd said, looking on the bright side.

Parks foreman Bob O’Brien said it was his first job of the day, but that he expected more trees to fall as Irene moved in later Sunday – though he hoped he was wrong.

Taking a moment from the storm’s current whirlwind, here’s a look at how the economy is growing more vulnerable to hurricanes.

One surprising finding was that hurricane damage grows substantially with even modest increases in wind speed beyond hurricane velocity (above 74 mph). For example, writes Conor Dougherty citing a report by Yale economics professor William Nordhaus, a hurricane with sustained winds of 108 mph would do roughly twice the damage as a hurricane with sustained winds of 100 mph.

The owner of a food market in Brooklyn decided to open around 8 a.m. after seeing the rain diminish and people take to the streets.

Mohamed Rabah, 43, who co-owns Bob and Betty’s Food Market, had stopped by to check on damage and decided to just stay open. He had chided his partner for over ordering on Friday, but as customers began trickling in late in the morning admitted “it was a blessing in disguise.”

“I thought they overreacted,” he said. “I remember Hurricane Belle in1976 and they did the same thing. I was 8 at the time. For a little kid they spooked the bejesus out of us.”

Nam’s Fruit Market, which never closes no matter the weather or the holiday, kept the doors open, removing hanging plants and flowers on shelves from outside.  “I never close,” said manager Juan Luna.

“When I looked out and said this is not a freakin’ hurricane,” he said. “I don’t have any food, but I have water and plenty of coffee.”

“It’s not a storm,” she said. “It’s just wind and rain. We are going to walk around and assess the damage.”

Lawyers Nick David, 33 and Eva Young, 32, decided to leave their apartment for fresh air being holed up all night at a building wide party. “It was pretty crazy last night,” Ms. Young said, “but I guess I was expecting more.”

Newark Mayor Cory Booker said there were five small power outages throughout the city, affecting thousands of people, but there were not widespread outages.

Five homes so far have been hit by trees, and there have been some water rescues. People – and one dog – were rescued by boats from flooded and stranded cars, Mr. Booker said in an interview.

“We have a lot of hazards that are out there,” he said shortly before 10 a.m. “From power lines to open manholes. People trying to wade through the water, they often won’t see that. We’re still concerned, again, about wind pulling down more branches.”

Mr. Booker, who takes pride in personally assisting residents during major snow or weather events, said he was personally running food and pizza to shelters and surveying the damage. He’s also frequently updating his Twitter feed, where he has more than 1 million followers.

He saw several homeless people huddled around Newark Penn Station, the city’s main train station. The city moved 41 homeless people there to shelter. “Fortunately, they were all willing to go,” he said.

The police examine a fallen tree on Lincoln Place between 5th Ave. and 6th Ave. in Brooklyn’s Park Slope.

Trees have fallen, power lines are down, roads are blocked, streets are flooded and power is out for a good portion of residents in the heavily wooded, coastal city of Groton, Conn., said Joe Sastre, of the city’s Office of Emergency Management.

Mr. Sastre took a 45-minute drive throughout the city at about 10:30 a.m. on Sunday morning to survey the damage. He said that very few people are out, roads are not very passable and that there is no way to tell how many trees are down. He said that he expects some residents to be without power for the better part of the week, if not more because of the damage. “There are trees on wires all over the place,” he said. “You drive down one road, and there is a tree. Drive down another road, and there are wires.”

The city’s emergency management center has been busy since winds started to pick up at about 9 p.m. on Saturday night. Workers are in the midst of making a list of trees blocking the roads.

Mr. Sastre said that he did not see any wires sparking or fires, but that the fire and police departments in the city have received numerous calls reporting such hazards.

“That doesn’t sound like a lot, but we have a lot of trees, and it has been years since we’ve had a significant storm,” Mr. Sastre said. “We have nice, big, full maple trees that just love to fall out of the ground when it is this wet and this windy.”

Mr. Sastre said that the damage is widespread across the 35 square miles of the city, but that it could have been much worse. He said that as soon as the wind starts to die down, that crews will return to the roads to start repairing downed power lines and removing trees.

The city experienced some flooding along the shoreline with the storm surges, but Mr. Sastre said that as the tide goes down, the water should start to recede. There were no reports of major injuries or accidents in the city, Mr. Sastre said.He said that about 80 people are at the city’s shelter, which has 350 cots. On Saturday, the city was one of 28 municipalities in Connecticut that ordered mandatory evacuations for its low-lying shoreline areas.

Randy King, a tribal leader at the Shinnecock Indian Reservation in Southampton, N.Y., said that its 600 members were urged to evacuate, but few did.

“The people here have a strong affinity for the land. We live by that,” he said. “They’ve lived here for thousands of years and they don’t want to go anywhere. We’re certainly not the only community where people want to stay in their homes.”

WARWICK, R.I– More than 60,000 people are without power in Rhode Island, state officials said Sunday morning, as high winds from Hurricane Irene whipped through the state.

Trees are down in many areas, and state police have received reports of people trapped in cars and houses in the Warwick area.

“It’s all over the state, the high winds,” RI Gov. Lincoln Chafee said at a press conference Sunday morning. He noted that state public transit had been suspended for the day.

Officials are also warily eying the evening tides, which will be unusually high because of astronomical factors, and may create the need for more evacuations in low-lying areas.

“We’ve still got a lot of people who are out there,” said Col. Stephen McCartney of Warwick Police Department, during a mid-storm meeting with officers of  Rhode Island State Police and the Rhode Island National Guard to request additional men and vehicles. A conference table was arrayed with duty assignments on white printer paper. “We’re stretched thin.”

Warwick evacuated more than a dozen people using large payloader trucks before the morning tide from the Conimicut Point section of the city, facing Narragansett Bay, Col. McCartney said in the meeting at Warwick Police headquarters. Rescuees rode on the vehicles’ giant shovels.

State Police Capt. Darren Delaney of Rhode Island State Police quickly hopped on a phone at the Warwick conference table, while holding a cell phone to his other ear.

Once off the phone, Capt. Delaney told the table: “We’re pulling five troopers and three humvee teams.”

Lt Col. Alex Reina of the Rhode Island National Guard, wearing fatigues, said that he would also provide two light multipurpose tactical vehicles to help with evening evacuations, too.

About 100 miles up the Hudson River from New York City, Hurricane Irene played larger on TV than in real life.

The storm produced a steady sog through the night and into the late morning, but the wind gusts were only meager and occasional. By noon, the rains had produced some standing water on Milbrook, N.Y. roads, but it seemed Irene had left the area largely unscathed.

BELLPORT, N.Y.–There were widespread power outages and the Great South Bay lapped at streets and backyards along the southeastern shore of Long Island Sunday morning.

But many of the worst fears of damage from Hurricane Irene did not materialize and sightseers got themselves into traffic jams on roads near the water. Officials still urged people to stay inside because of risks from flying debris.

“Property damage is not as bad as we had worried about,” said Islip Town Supervisor Phil Nolan. “We’re somewhat relieved on that front.”

In coastal towns like Patchogue, there were trees down on almost every other block. Some blocked streets or sat on top of broken, downed power lines.

It wasn’t immediately clear how Long Island’s barrier beaches fared. Mr. Nolan said the Atlantic Ocean had broken through Fire Island into the bay at one point and come close in others.

NAGS HEAD, N.C. — Here along North Carolina’s Outer Banks, residents began cleaning up their properties and assessing damage on a sunny, breezy Sunday morning.

Around town, evidence of the battering that Irene delivered was apparent everywhere. An oceanfront road was coated in sand, homes were missing shingles and some power lines were down. Dozens of jet skis that had come unmoored during the storm washed up on a grassy field, with some lying on their sides and others upside down. A fishing pier lost some of its pilings but remained standing.

Richard Romano, who rode out the storm at his home on the Intracoastal Waterway, said he never lost power. More than anything, he was worried about his children, who live in New York and New Jersey. “The funny thing is, we’re fine, and New York is going to get it pretty bad,” he said.

Residents seemed eager to get outdoors, after having been cooped up for 36 hours. Some people walked dogs and others gathered shells along the beach. A few surfers ventured into the ocean to take advantage of the big swells.

Massachusetts is experiencing power outages and scattered flooding but has not had any widespread, significant damage so far, said Alex Goldstein, the press secretary for Gov. Deval Patrick

“Obviously, the power outages are the most significant thing at this point and we can expect that to continue,” he said.

He noted there was flooding near the Westfield River in Chester, Mass., west of Springfield.  But otherwise there had been “no major incidents,” he said.

About 150,000 customers in the state are without power, said Scott MacLeod, spokesman for the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency. “Thankfully things have not been as severe as originally forecast,” he said.

But Irene isn’t done yet. There have been reports of some road flooding from the state’s Department of Transportation, and emergency officials are still wary of the potential for coastal issues on Massachusetts’ south shore when high tide returns between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. this evening.

The Tappan Zee Bridge was closed about 12 noon EDT Sunday due to flooding on the New York State Thruway, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. The Thruway northbound was closed due to flooding between the Tarrytown and Harriman exits and southbound between the Newburgh and West Nyack exits, Cuomo said.

In Lumberton, NJ, near the center of the state, John Bradley stared at the home of his step-mother and recently deceased father–in the midst of a rushing river of water several feet deep.

“It’s running pretty hard,” said Mr. Bradley, a 57-year-old engineer at the University of Pennsylvania.

“Hurray, maybe now we’ll get the power back,” said neighbor John Madden, a 69-year-old retired lawyer. Water had surrounded his garage and was lapping up against the ground just feet from his home.

While both men felt real damage to their homes would be minimal, they said they feared what might happen in early evening, when the tide is high and accumulated seepage takes effect.

CSX Corp., which has been conducting inspections of its railroad track and other infrastructure behind Hurricane Irene as it moves slowly north, cites downed trees across tracks, localized high water and “commercial power out in fairly widespread areas” as the extent of the damage found so far. The East Coast freight railroad also says it’s beginning to restore service to certain areas where the storm passed Saturday.

—In Prospect, one person was killed in a fire that Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said was apparently caused by wires knocked down by the storm.

—In Volusia County, 55-year-old Frederick Fernandez died Saturday off New Smyrna Beach after he was tossed off his board by massive waves caused by Irene.

—In Queen Anne’s County, a woman was killed when a tree fell on a house and caused the chimney to collapse.

—A woman who had called police early Sunday for help getting out of her flooded car in Salem County was found dead in the vehicle hours later.

—In Nash County, a man was killed after a tree limb fell on him outside his home Saturday morning as outer bands from the storm brought near hurricane-force gusts inland.

—Goldsboro police say a 15-year-old girl died Saturday afternoon after the SUV carrying her and family members collided with another SUV at an intersection where Irene had knocked out power to traffic lights.

—Authorities in Pitt County say a man was found dead in his home after Irene’s winds toppled a tree onto his house.

—Another man in Pitt County drove through standing water, went off a road and died after striking a tree on Saturday.

—A mother in Sampson County died Saturday morning when a tree fell on a car carrying her and two family members.

—Newport News authorities report that 11-year-old Zahir Robinson was killed when a large tree crashed through his apartment shortly after noon.

—In Brunswick County, a tree fell across a car Saturday afternoon, killing 67-year-old James Blackwell of Brodnax.

—Chesterfield County police say a man died at a Hopewell hospital Saturday after a tree fell on a house that he was in.

—A King William County man killed when a tree fell on him as he was cutting another tree on Saturday night.

More than 700,000 people are without power in Connecticut, about 50% of the state’s electricity customers, Governor Dannel Malloy said during a press conference on Sunday at noon.

He said that there are a “tremendous number” of down wires and that there could be disruptions to recovery efforts this afternoon because of high winds. He said that even after Irene passes across the state on Sunday afternoon that there is a 60% to 70% chance of another round of extremely high gusts of winds.

Connecticut Light and Power has more than doubled the number of crews that it would normally have working, bringing people in from as far away as Colorado.In Bridgeport, much of the power station is under water and officials could turn off much of the energy to the city as workers pump out the station.

Five hospitals and several nursing homes in the state are working on generators.AT&T said that it is dealing with 2,000 poles that were damaged and hundreds of cell towers that are not working properly.

He said rivers in the state, including the Housatonic River, experienced flooding. “If you do not have to be out, please do not be out,” he said. “Don’t do any driving that you don’t have to do.”

Much of the state has shut down, with most school districts across the state closed on Monday. Metro North rail road is experiencing extensive damage, especially on the New Canaan branch. The truck ban on I-95 has lifted. Governor Malloy said that military are being deployed to help local clean up operations.

Earlier on Saturday, Governor Malloy said that one person in Prospect, Conn. had died because of a storm related injury. He said that two fire fighters were injured in the course of responding to the emergency, with both receiving electric shocks, he said. Both were taken to the hospital. One already was released and the other should be released this evening.

In the state, 35 municipalities have declared a state of emergency.Some areas of the state are experiencing river flooding. A farm in New Hartford was flooded, with some farm animals drowning, he said.

Residents of Manhattan’s Battery Park City neighborhood braced for the worst and were largely spared when Irene touched down as a tropical storm early Sunday.

In anticipation of the storm, Mayor Michael Bloomberg issued a mandatory evacuation of the neighborhood, which has a population of around 13,000 people, as well as other so-called “Zone A” low-lying areas. By noon Sunday, residents who left were trickling back into their apartments as the sun peaked through the clouds and the water from the nearby Hudson River subsided.

“It turned out to be a non-event,” said Dan Lenahan, the manager of a high-rise Battery Park apartment building that overlooks the river.

Still, Mr. Lenahan and others took all necessary precautions on Saturday. He instructed residents to evacuate and turned off the building’s main electrical systems, including the elevators and hot water. He marked the doors of those who stayed  so emergency workers could rescue them, if the worst happened.

“I’d rather have done all the prep work and not need it then the alternative,” he said. Read more about the post-storm scene in Battery Park City in WSJ’s Metropolis blog.

With the worst of Hurricane Irene having passed through much of the eastern seaboard, federal officials are beginning to conduct damage assessments with states, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano said Sunday.

But Napolitano said individuals in the path of the Irene should remain cautious, even if it has already passed.

“Our number one message for individuals and families up and down the eastern seaboard is that we’re not out of the woods yet,” she said at a press conference. “Irene remains a large and potentially dangerous storm, hazards still persist in communities that have already seen the storm pass.”

Irene, recently downgraded to a tropical storm, was expected to travel through New England and out of the United States by late Sunday or early Monday morning.

Though damage assessments were already underway in areas like North Carolina, it would take “several days” to begin complete costs estimates of damage incurred by the storm, said Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Craig Fugate, who also spoke at the press conference.

FEMA tallies damages to uninsured public property, not insured losses to individuals, Fugate said, adding that agricultural damages would not be included in FEMA’s tallies, either.

“We do know there’s been substantial agricultural impacts” in North Carolina, he said during the press conference.

President Barack Obama was updated Sunday morning on the latest hurricane developments, but is unlikely to publicly address the impacts of the storm today.

Mr. Obama held a video teleconference call in the Situation Room at 10:30 a.m. Sunday, the White House said. Participants included Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate and Energy Secretary Steven Chu.

The president received an assessment of damage from the storm so far and an update on the energy and transportation infrastructure in affected areas, the White House said.

Mr. Obama will hold another meeting Sunday evening. But the White House has sent home the pool of photographers and the television crew assigned to cover any public events he might hold on Sunday, signaling that Mr. Obama has no intention of appearing on camera to speak about the storm.

Vice President Joe Biden, White House chief of staff Bill Daley and Mr. Obama’s counterterrorism advisor John Brennan also attended Sunday’s meeting.

Nuclear power stations escaped major damage from Hurricane Irene, federal officials said, though flying debris damaged equipment at a plant in Maryland, forcing one reactor to shut down.

The Unit 1 reactor at Constellation Energy’s Calvert Cliffs plant in Lusby, Md., automatically shut down on Saturday night after high winds ripped a piece of aluminum siding off a building and threw it into an electrical transformer. Transformer damage caused the reactor to “scram” or automatically trip out of service Saturday night. Unit 2 continued to operate and was not affected.

Nuclear plants are required to shut down at least two hours before hurricane-force winds hit them and, as a practical matter, usually stop energy production eight to 10 hours ahead of time. Exelon Corp. shut down its Oyster Creek plant near the New Jersey coast Saturday evening in anticipation of high winds.

Progress Energy also temporarily reduced output of its Brunswick nuclear station, on the boundary between North and South Carolina, so that it could shut be shut down quickly if necessary. After the storm passed, the plant returned to 100% power on Sunday.

On the Rockaway peninsula, strong-weather veterans who defiantly stayed despite a mandatory evacuation reported weathering a storm like one that has not hit the island in decades.

“This is a little more intense than I have experienced, Karen Nevirs, of Rockaway Beach, who has lived on the ocean for 35 years. “The water came up onto the Shorefront Parkway and has been bubbling throughout the whole boardwalk, which I haven’t seen in that intensity. This was probably the most intense we have ever seen living on the boardwalk. If those winds were any stronger it would have been a disaster.”

Further west in Neponsit, Noni Signoretti said: “It could have been much worse. I don’t think the city government was wrong in taking such strong action. It really could have been bad.”

“Dude, it’s super fabulous here,” she said on the phone from her porch. “The ocean did meet the bay, but not on every block. They rolled into each other but they are now rolling out. The water was pouring into the beach walls.”

If she would have left, it would have been to be with family in Howard Beach who are flooded and without power. “They don’t have power and we do,” she said.

From Asbury Park to Belmar, beachgoers along the jersey shore came out to gawk at the cascading waves in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene.

Shooting photos and videos, parents brought their children to see the high waves as local police officers unsuccessfully tried to shoo them away.

At “The White House” an 1880’s sharehouse steps away from the Belmar boardwalk,  described as “a frat house for 40 year old men,” a dozen people had decided to stay through the storm.

On Sunday morning, men in tie-died tank tops and Bermuda shorts were drinking beers and removing the wood en planks that they had drilled into the walls to cover the windows.

We”re diehards,” said Tom Wagner, the owner of the 32-room house. “We spent the night drinking beers and having a good time.”

True to their name, the 7 Eleven shops in Long Island City stayed open as the other area businesses shut their doors as the storm approached.  

“There was never a consideration of closing,”says Mhosin Hayat, 19 who worked the overnight shift at the store on Queens Blvd across from LaGuardia Community College.

He noted the area has a crime problem and the police and fire presence made him feel safe. “I felt safe for the first time,” he said with a wide grin. “Normally its a scary area.”

Sam Alim, 23, who started the morning shift at 7 a.m., said the only precaution they took was putting tape on the windows.

He also braved coming to work during the height of the storm.  “It was rainy, a little windy,” he said.

The movement of freight and packages remains scarce to non-existent in areas of the East Coast affected by Irene, as transport companies send in inspectors behind the storm to assess damage and begin repairs.

Freight railroad CSX Corp. is citing downed trees across tracks, localized high water and “commercial power out in fairly widespread areas” as the extent of the problems found so far, however. The mainly East Coast railroad says it’s beginning to restore rail service to certain areas where Irene passed Saturday, although it also notes its operations remain battened down in many regions as the storm moves north of New York City.

FedEx says it is planning some damage assessments today in the wake of the storm, after both it and United Parcel Service  suspended pickup and delivery services in areas within the storm’s path and relocated aircraft out of harm’s way.

Both companies have said they expected problems caused by the ongoing disruptions to be relatively minimal, however, because the shutdowns are occurring  over the weekend when package flow generally is light anyway.

UPS says it hasn’t received any reports of damages yet and is assessing when to resume service in certain areas.

Declaring that the “worst of the storm has passed,” Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano continued to urge residents to stay cautious as downed trees and power lines and flooding posed hazards while the county’s debris management units mobilized to begin the clean up.

Mr. Mangano said no deaths or serious injuries were reported and that crime has been lower than a typical weekend. What the county had to contend with Sunday was the clearing of trees, cleaning of storm basins and the pumping out streets that had flooded — some of which saw 4 feet of water at storm surge areas.

Mr. Mangano said it would take at least a month, and coordination with state authorities, to assess the economic impact of Irene.

More immediately, he said the priority was to restore power to the more than 120,000 households in the dark and to clear streets that have been closed by flooding or debris.

“This emergency management plan worked,” he said. “I have directed the implementation of our debris management and restoration plan.”

Mr. Mangano said it remained unconfirmed if Irene had weakened to a tropical storm by the time it hit Nassau.

Acting police commissioner Thomas Krumpter said there was “less crime than there would have been on a normal weekend.”

A man was arrested at about 2:00 a.m. Sunday for allegedly breaking into an electronics store. An electronics depot was also burglarized in a separate incident early Sunday but arrests had been made, Mr. Krumpter said.

Officials and homeowners in New Jersey are bracing for more flooding, as this evening’s high tide and accumulated rain and seepage drives the flood waters still higher in some areas.

“We still have 24 hours of water in front of us with the cresting coming around midday tomorrow,” said Steve King, deputy coordinator of the Burlington County, N.J. emergency management office.

He said the creeks and tributaries that feed into the Delaware River have flowed over at least six dams in the area so far.

Downtown Lumberton, which sits on two tributaries of the Rancocas Creek, a tidal waterway, was under two feet of water Sunday afternoon with the water rising steadily. Several residents had canoes floating by their front steps, tied to railings.  The town has suffered from severe floods before, most notably in 2004 when a wall of water burst through dozens of dams.

Utility workers Sunday tried to restore power to thousands in the area, as the flood waters continued to rise.

Tommy Shover, the 55-year-old head foreman of the town’s public works department, said budget cuts had dropped his staff to ten from 14 in 2008, adding to the challenge of what still lay ahead.

While businesses in many other parts of the region remained closed, in Midtown Manhattan, some of the city’s most reliable institutions–delis and pizza parlors–never shuttered.

Dozens of delis and pizza joints kept their doors open even when it wasn’t clear that Irene would largely pass through Manhattan as a minor rain storm. A Slice of New York Pizza at 46th Street and 8th Avenue stayed open till 5 a.m. on Saturday night and then started the day at 10 a.m. on Sunday.

“Of course we are going to stay open,” said Ben Brahim Sabouni, a 50-year-old worker there from Manhattan. Saturday was “busy, busy busy as it never has been,” he said.

By 11 a.m. on Sunday, people were filing into the pizza parlor looking for food since many other restaurants weren’t operating. The pizza parlor never considered closing to avoid the storm, and business continued as usual. “We believe in God and we don’t believe in the storm,” Mr. Sabouni said.

Tourists tired of being cooped up in their hotels crowded the streets of Times Square and along 8th and 9th Avenues searching for restaurants that were open. While the pizza parlors were seeing a boom in business, delis in Midtown had lots of tourists coming in buying food as well.

But most of the regular residents have stayed home, said Moe Zee, 32, who works at the Off Broadway Deli at 45th Street and Eight Avenue, a 24-hour deli that never closed during the storm.

“People already bought their stuff,” Mr. Zee said, who started work at 6 a.m. “Business was up and down yesterday.”

Mr. Zee lives in Brooklyn but moved his family to Manhattan on Saturday just in case Irene turned into a bad storm, he said. But the deli never planned to close. Lots of workers didn’t show up, leaving the deli shorthanded for the day, Mr. Zee said.

The storm also interrupted the morning bread delivery and the deli planned to use wraps to make sandwiches instead, Mr. Zee said.

At the West 44th Candy Store, the tourists that came in for food weren’t enough to make up for the loss in businesses from residents, said Mohemed Kasim, 50, an employee there at the 24-hour store who lives in Manhattan.

“Business was bad. Nobody was in the city,” Mr. Kasim said, who started work at 5 a.m. on Sunday.

Despite the slow business, the store never considered closing up shop on Saturday or Sunday Mr. Kasim said. “What for? On T.V., they talk a lot. It scared everybody,” said Mr. Kasim.

A handful of bars and pubs in the neighborhood stayed open, too. Around 11 a.m. on Saturday, the bar at the Playwright Celtic Pub at 46th Street and 8th Avenue was packed with screaming soccer fans drinking beer and watching Manchester United take on Arsenal F.C. of the British Premier League.

“It’s an Irish bar and it’s soccer. So it all comes together,” said Bob Poole, 51, from Vancouver. Mr. Poole was in town with about 19 policemen and firefighters from Vancouver in town to take part in the 2011 New York World Police & Fire Games, a multi-sport tournament. He got into town Thursday and planned to stay through the week.

“We knew the storm was tailing off,” Mr. Poole said. “But we weren’t going to leave. We were going to weather the storm.”

The small Berkshires town of North Adams has effectively closed roads in and out of the community because of flooding.

“This is worst weather event we’ve had here,” said Michael Cozzaglio, the police director in the city of 15,000. “This has pretty much put a stranglehold on the city as far as mobility goes.”

A heavy wind and driving rain  that came through earlier Sunday has slowed down. But it dumped enough water to close 13 roads and evacuate numerous residents. The soggy ground prompted a landslide into a road. No one has been injured, he said, but the city has asked for National Guard assistance to cope with flooding.

The immediate concern is the Hoosic River which is “rising quickly” and is at about 25 feet, while the city’s flood-control wall is 30-feet-high, Mr. Cozzaglio said.

“We’re just hoping our flood-control system can handle the water,” he said. Scattered flooding was reported elsewhere in Western Massachusetts.

SPRING LATE, N.J.– On Sunday morning, families along the Jersey Shore streamed out of their homes on foot and by bicycle to survey the damage in their communities.

Perhaps hardest hit was Spring Lake, N.J., a wealthy town where homes can cost upwards of $6 million.

Most of the boardwalk had been decimated, with planks strewn across the sand and mangled metal poles sticking out. The hurricane had sent waves that soared above the boardwalk and into the dunes separating the beach from Ocean Ave., taking out large sections of a boardwalk built just a few years ago.

“I’ve never seen it like this before,” said Rick Anselmo, who’s lived in Spring Lake Heights for about 20 years. “It could have been worse, but I’ve never seen the boardwalk ripped up like this.”

He and his wife had remained in their home throughout the storm and walked six blocks to the beach on Sunday afternoon to see if any damage had occurred overnight.

“It’s hard to get around; everything is blocked off because the lakes and ponds have overflowed,” said Debbie Walker.

The Walkers power had gone out around 10 p.m and by close to 2 p.m it still had not been restored. Trees were strewn around the block.

“It could have been a lot worse…in the past no one paid attention to the warnings,” Mr. Walker said. “This time, because the warnings started so early everyone boarded up their homes and taped their windows.”

Up the shore in Asbury Park, Belmar and Ocean Grove, many people had returned to their Sunday routines on the Shore. Many got their bikes out or put on their running gear to exercise. Others were walking their dogs or taking pictures of the high waves that crashed ashore.

All U.S. markets will be open for trading on Monday, according to exchange operator BATS Global Markets.

“Throughout the weekend all of the exchanges and the SEC have closely monitored the hurricane’s progress and conducted regular calls to assess the situation on the ground,” BATS said in a statement. “This afternoon, the decision was made by the exchanges and the SEC that all markets would open on time tomorrow.”

NYSE Euronext said it will be “business as usual” tomorrow as the opening bell will ring at 9:30 a.m. EDT, as scheduled.

Flooding is still an issue and maintenance crews are out inspecting rail lines, and removing trees, downed wires and other debris.

It’s unclear exactly when service will resume tomorrow, but the transit agency said customers should stay tuned to media reports or visit

An analysis of Hurricane Irene wind-speed readings in both North Carolina and the New York region shows the winds reported by the National Hurricane Center were well in excess of what most people experienced on the ground.

While the NHC was reporting sustained winds of 85 miles and hour in North Carolina on Saturday, ground-level monitors show only sustained winds in the 50- to 60-mile-an-hour range, said Tim Doggett, principal scientist at disaster-modeling company AIR Worldwide.

Just hours after the storm swept through New York City, Doggett and other experts monitoring the winds said they had so far seen a similar pattern there. Ground monitors show sustained winds around 40 miles an hour, after forecasters had warned Irene was still packing maximum sustained winds of 75 miles an hour.

The less-severe winds mean the damage from Irene won’t be as serious as first feared. It will also lessen the damage caused by the storm surge that was pushed ashore by Irene, Doggett said.

The discrepancy was likely the result of where the measurements were taking place. The National Hurricane Center was reporting wind speeds measured by hurricane-hunter aircraft flying above the storm. Such measurements are sometimes predictive of wind speeds on the ground, but not always, said Matthew Nielsen of Risk Management Solutions Inc.

“The flight-level winds weren’t necessarily making their way all the way down to the ground,” he said.

In fact, Nielsen said he had been monitoring an online discussion among top hurricane scientists since Irene hit North Carolina. They had been searching for data that showed sustained winds of 74 miles an hour for a minute or longer–the definition of a category-one hurricane. So far, Nielsen said, none of them had found evidence that any part of North Carolina had experienced hurricane-force winds.

In New York, readings indicate that parts of the city didn’t even experience a tropical storm, which has sustained winds of at least 39 miles an hour, Nielsen said.

While the worst of Irene appears to have swirled by, it may be some time while before the nation’s largest mass transit system rumbles back into service, meaning that commuters may face difficulties heading into work Monday.

On Sunday afternoon, more than 24 hours after an unprecedented shutdown of New York City’s transit system, transit officials aren’t willing to predict just how much time it will take to get all trains and buses running again. They warn that the subway shutdown–along with disruptions along commuter rail lines–could extend beyond Monday morning, with an agency saying a Tuesday return to service is “possible.”

Tropical Storm Irene’s center is moving through western Massachusetts, according to a 2:00 p.m. advisory from the National Hurricane Center. Its maximum sustained winds are holding steady at 60 miles per hour, as the storm moves northeast at 26 mph.

As Manhattan slowly recovers from one the most highly anticipated storms in years, tourists and visitors are beginning to flood Times Square once again.

While many businesses are still closed, the site of the scene on 46th and Broadway is a bit unusual: a friendly game of softball has picked up amid a steady drizzle.

But these aren’t your average Joes playing ball: hard core softball players from Tampa, FL are in town for the “World Police & Fire Games” — a biannual tournament that gathers some of the best firemen and police department softball teams from around the world.

Several members from “Elite Fire,” a Tampa-based softball squad, played ball Sunday morning and offered onlookers a chance to join in. Men, women and children played throughout the morning as the casual game generated as many as 100 spectators at one point.

Since the event has been pushed back to Tuesday because of weather conditions, several players elected to enjoy some pickup action in what is usually one of the most populated areas from Manhattan.

“We’re from Florida. Hurricanes happen all the time. We’re used to this,” said 31-year-old James Garrison, a Tampa firefighter and softball player on “Elite Fire” for the last two years.

Garrison wasn’t impressed with Irene, which was downgraded to a tropical storm. He described it as a “wimpy storm” that pales in comparison to some of the weather he experiences regularly in Florida.

BLANDFORD, Mass. – The donut and ice cream shop closed up. But the McDonald’s crewmembers at this Western Massachusetts truck-stop don’t mind if work can be a drip.

The roof of the building is leaking, and there are buckets and yellow “CAUTION – Wet Floor” cones all around the truck-stop. The McDonald’s workers just stuck garbage bags over their monitors and all but one cash register and kept at it. It’s a good thing because the few people coming in are hungry, like the state road crews on a lunch break.

David looked proudly at the row of closed vendors nearby. “Everyone else just left,” he said, getting back to work.

While subway shutdown caused some cabin fever among Queens area residents, they applauded Mayor Bloomberg’s extra-cautious approach to the storm.    

“It’s a good idea, even though we need the trains,” says retired Angel Mercado 61 noting that he never heard of the trains being shut down like this in his 35 years living in the city.  He added taking the trains during the storm could have been dangerous. “You have to watch out for electricity.

“Taking precautions is better than being sorry,” says Karine Zonis 31. She said if the subway doesn’t run Monday morning she may use a tram that can get her close enough to her job in the Upper East Side. “I may have to take my running shoes”.

“I appreciate … it” says Toni Martinez, 31. “Who’s to say how the storm would turn out” she said. Martinez says she will “cab it” if the trains don’t run tomorrow.

Julia Ocasio, 31, a stay-at-home mom says “You can’t predict the weather ” and said the shutdown may have prevented the unnecessary use of city emergency services.

New York City is lifting at 3 p.m. Sunday the mandatory evacuation order of the low-lying areas that were most at risk of flooding, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said at a news conference.

The mayor urged New Yorkers to exercise caution as they return to neighborhoods covered by the evacuation order, asking residents to watch out for fallen trees and downed power lines.

The city will soon begin moving back the thousands of people who were evacuated from hospitals, nursing homes and senior homes. Mr. Bloomberg said that process may take a couple days because officials wanted to be extra careful to tend to the elderly and sick.

On Friday, the mayor ordered the unprecedented evacuation of roughly 370,000 people living in so-called “Zone A” areas as well the entire Rockaways section of Queens.

An elderly woman died early Sunday morning in Prospect, Conn. just after gusts of wind started to pick up and bands of rain started to fall after a downed power line started a house fire, said Lt. Paul Vance, a spokesman for the Connecticut State Police.

According to preliminary reports, power lines may have come into contact with aluminum siding on the house, which sparked the fire, Mr. Vance said.

The emergency call came in at 5:52 a.m., and by the time the fire department arrived at the scene the residence was fully engulfed in flames, Mr. Vance said. An elderly man and woman had been at the house. The woman was pronounced dead at the scene. The man, who was in his 90s and outside the home when the fire department arrived, was taken to St. Mary’s Hospital in Waterbury, Conn.

A voluntary fire fighter sustained an electric shock getting into the house and received medical treatment, Mr. Vance said.

There have not been reports of other significant accidents or injuries across Connecticut as of Sunday afternoon, Mr. Vance said.

NASA has one of the best images of Irene out there — the view from the GOES-13 satellite just as the storm made landfall in New York City. The image shows Irene over New England, New York and parts of Canada. Shadows in Irene’s clouds indicate the bands of thunderstorms, according to the NASA site, which also has video of the storm.

Some East Coast airports resumed partial service on Sunday, though travel throughout the Northeast was bogged down from U.S. airlines cancelling more than 6,000 flights, the vast majority in Greater New York, Boston and Philadelphia, according to, a website that tracks flights.

Baltimore Washington International Airport “slowly” resumed service on Sunday, starting with a 10:20 a.m. American Airlines flight from Miami. The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, which oversees Reagan National and Dulles International, said its airports are open and sustained “no major damage” from Saturday’s storms.

More than half the cancellations came from Greater New York’s three largest airports, John F. Kennedy, Newark Liberty and LaGuardia, according to FlightStats.

Several airlines said they could resume New York-area service by mid-day Monday, depending on facility conditions and access.

Many East Coast airports remained open—albeit with empty runways. The only flights Boston’s Logan International Airport might see on Sunday are two late-night international arrivals, said Phil Orlandella, an airport spokesman. U.S. carriers say they plan to resume operations as early as 6 a.m. Monday and no later than noon, the spokesman said.

Airlines have canceled more than 1,000 flights to and from Philadelphia International Airport, where there are no departures scheduled. The airport reopened at 4 p.m. Sunday, after closing the previous night.

WARWICK, R.I. — More than 221,000 customers were without power in Rhode Island on Sunday afternoon, according to utility National Grid, as high winds from Hurricane Irene continued to lash the state.

More than 16,000 of the outages were in Providence, and 18,000 homes were without power in Warwick, according to a listing on the utility’s website.

Peter Gaynor, director of emergency management for Providence said Sunday afternoon that it was still too early to estimate the storm’s economic impact.

A spokesman for the Rhode Island National Guard said around 2 pm that no deaths had been reported in the state, adding that Providence emergency management had reported one injured worker for the department of public works.

State emergency-management officials have allocated state troopers and  National Guard units to help local responders together.

In a firehouse in a coastal region of Warwick, three national guard troops were stationed on Friday afternoon with firemen, police officers and two Rhode Island state troopers, to wait for calls ahead of what was expected to be a crush at high tide Sunday evening.

In a room with a TV tuned to local news, a state trooper ate from a big plate of rigatoni, while the guardsmen opened MREs, or meals ready to eat. Menu 7 was Beef Brisket. Winds whipped trees outside.

“I’m hitting the streets. I can’t just wait around here,” said Roupen Bastajain, a state trooper, leaving to patrol roads on his own

Just minutes later, a call came in for the others: a branch had fallen on a state police cruiser. The guardsmen’s humvee was needed to clear it.

“It’s different from what we’re used to from training,” said Staff Sgt. Erica Solis, who in recent months has returned from a deployment at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

At the scene, on a small lane along a restive Narragansett Bay, a huge tree had fallen across a road into a house. No police cruiser was present. Someone had garbled the call.

He started hacking at smaller branches, in the light rain. while Sgt. Solis and a police officer conferred.

“We’ll try to make it as clear as we can for them,”  Sgt. Solis said. “But we’re not moving it. No way. Don’t have the equipment.”

Having done what they could, the team climbed back into the humvee for the trip back to the fires station.

“What happened to ‘branch’?” Piekarski said. “There’s certainly a difference between a branch and a tree.”

AT&T, Verizon Communications and Sprint Nextel Corp. said Hurricane Irene’s sweep of the U.S. East Coast caused some disruption of service, though it wasn’t immediately clear what damage their network equipment had sustained.

The FCC said Saturday about 12,000 customers were without wireline service and winds had rendered 130 cell sites in North Carolina without power. AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and Deutsche Telekom AG’s T-Mobile USA said they were using backup power generators at some cell sites.

Hurricane Irene’s landfall marked the second big test of the companies’ networks in the past week after a 5.8 magnitude earthquake struck near Richmond, Va. While the carriers saw call volume spike, they reported no major network equipment damage and only brief periods in which customers couldn’t make calls.

Starting Friday, the carriers and U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency had encouraged customers to use text-messaging instead of voice calls to help relieve congestion on the networks.

“We do have a minimal amount of wires and poles down due to the strong winds,” said Linda Laughlin, a spokeswoman for Verizon Communications, based in New York. She said some Verizon offices and technical sites were still running on backup power on Sunday. The company is sending out technicians to determine damage.

An AT&T spokesman, Mark Siegel, said the Dallas-based company was coping with some impact from North Carolina to Delaware and hadn’t yet assessed the New York area. He didn’t give further details.

Sprint was experiencing some coverage outages along the coast and had technicians working to return service to normal, said spokeswoman Crystal Davis. “We are seeing higher than normal call volumes in the mid-Atlantic area, but this is not impacting performance,” she said.

T-Mobile’s network was operating at 90% of full capacity in North Carolina, said Bryan Zidar, a spokesman. In Virginia, just 3% of cell sites weren’t operating, he said.

The companies said they shuttered some stores along the eastern seaboard in advance of the storm and planned to keep many of them closed through Sunday. A spokeswoman for Verizon Wireless — which is co-owned by Verizon Communications and Vodafone Group PLC — said the company had supplied stores in North Carolina with charging stations for customers with dead cellphones.

President Barack Obama will deliver a statement on Hurricane Irene Sunday night, the White House announced.

As of 3:10 p.m. EDT, 936,101 homes and businesses were without power across New York state, including more than 461,000 on Long Island, according to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Several people were “seriously injured by flying tree limbs while cleaning up storm damage,” New Hampshire officials said.

Emergency management officials urged residents to stay inside and put off clean-up until after the storm ends.

Two people in Wolfeboro and one in Bedford were hurt by flying tree limbs “while out cleaning up other fallen tree limbs,” state emergency authorities said in a statement. A fourth person was injured while out walking during the storm in Concord.

“The storm continues to create hazards and debris…we urge all New Hampshire residents to save the clean up until tomorrow, after the storm ends,” State Fire Marshal J. William Degnan said in a statement.

Authorities also said there had been reports of people swimming and surfing – unwisely – in the rough ocean.

“People should not jeopardize their own lives, or the safety of first responders, by going swimming, surfing or boating or by clogging ocean roads,” New Hampshire State Police Colonel Robert Quinn said in a statement.

Heavy wind gusts at 3:00 this afternoon causing serious tree damage in and around Sunset Park in Brooklyn.

It will probably be another day or so before the major disaster-modeling companies release their estimates on the total cost of Hurricane Irene. But Rod Fox, chief executive of reinsurance broker TigerRisk, said his back-of-the-envelope estimate was that Irene likely caused $3 billion to $5 billion in insured losses.

At the high end of that range, Irene would be the tenth most expensive hurricane in U.S. history, behind 2004’s Hurricane Frances.

Fox think Irene’s losses could go that high because of it size and duration, not because it was a particularly powerful storm—because it wasn’t.

“It was like a big wind storm,” he said. “There just doesn’t seem to be the massive structural damage people were worried about.”

Fox’s estimate excludes the cost of paying most flood claims on homes affected by Irene’s storm surge. Such claims are generally covered by the federal government’s National Flood Insurance Program.

SPRING LAKE, N.J.– As the sun came out over the New Jersey shoreline, it wasn’t a surge from the ocean that left many residents knee-deep in flood water.

Nearly 200 homes surrounding Wreck Pond in this wealthy area were flooded Sunday, the second time in five years residents had seen the small body of water overflow. Some blamed the town for failing to be provide greater protection from the pond.

People who had evacuated on Saturday found their homes relatively undamaged from the storm — at least until Sunday morning, when rainwater draining towards the ocean flowed through the area. Within hours, some returning families had to contemplate leaving home once again.

“When we got back to the house, we were happy to see there had been no structural damage due to the hurricane itself,”  said Brian Reilly. “But the problem started for us at 8 a.m. when the tide came in and the water  started to rise from Wreck Pond.” Read more from Spring Lake in WSJ’s Metropolis blog.

In Vincentown, NJ, residents began emerging from their flooded homes, encouraged by a few rays of sun and the belief by some that the water–about three feet deep in the center of this old mill town–was receding.

In the middle of Mill Street, at the town center, about a dozen residents were cooking hotdogs and hamburgers on a grill placed on the center line of the road and drinking red wine.

“I’d call it a ‘we’re still here party'”, said Bob Demas, a 74-year old retiree from the construction industry. “It was bad, but we’ll be alright. We’re still here.”

Behind him, Bob Novelle,  the treasurer of the Episcopalian church located next to the spontaneous street party,  drove his jeep through several feet of water and then waded through it to see if the church had suffered any damage.

This time, he found six to eight inches of water in the neighboring parish hall, but the inside of the church and its new organ, so far, remained dry, he said after he rejoined the cookout.

While many Queens residents supported Mayor Bloomberg’s decision to shut down the subway some weren’t so certain how they were going to get to their jobs in Manhattan.

“I am kind of confused how to get to work tomorrow” said Greg Kozatek a graphic designer that works next to the World Trade Center.  He noted he hadn’t heard from his employer about instructions.

Elise Fitzgerald 23 who works in public relations in Union Square also wasn’t sure what course of action she was going to take but said “I have enough to work from home “

Dennis Haruska 31 said his employer in Union Square told him “If you can’t make it, you can’t make it. One day is not going to kill you anyway. “

But Frank Anichiarico 57 a doorman on the upper eastside probably found the best solution. “I’m off tomorrow” he said.

Victoria Wagner said her sump-pump was working nonstop to bail out the basement of her Plainsboro, NJ, home, which was besieged by an overflowing pond nearby. Her next door neighbors had already been evacuated and their brick home was partly submerged. As other residents approached the police tape cordoning off the flooded pond to take pictures, Ms. Wagner said on her front porch she hadn’t seen this much flooding since 1985. Her sump-pump managed to keep the water in her unfinished basment to a few inches. The town authorities had lowered the pond level saturday but it still flooded.

“As long as we have power we’ll be fine,” she said. Her husband, a veteran volunteer firefighter, had been out on calls since 4 a.m.

The Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association said Sunday the organization isn’t recommending any changes in the wake of Hurricane Irene to routine fixed-income securities trading schedules in the U.S. on Monday.

The association, which represents securities firms and investment banks, said its recommendation applies to the trading of U.S. dollar-denominated government securities, as well as asset-backed securities and corporate and municipal bonds. No suggested changes have been issued for secondary money market trading either.

Since Friday, the group has been monitoring Hurricane Irene as it approached New York City, in order to determine if it would interrupt the normal functioning of financial markets coming out of the weekend. While the brunt of Irene, which hit New York City early Sunday as a weakened tropical storm, has passed the city, authorities still warned about rising tides and faced cleaning up the wreckage left in its tracks.

The storm has caused minor flooding in some areas in downtown Manhattan, where many Wall Street banks reside. Mass transit also remains shut in a number of major cities, which could force many employees to work remotely if capabilities aren’t restored by market-open on Monday.

The number of power outages in Massachusetts has eclipsed half a million, according to new estimates from the big electric utilities, NStar and National Grid. NStar said 175,000 customers in its service territory were without service, with the biggest concentration of outages on Massachusetts’ south shore around the city of New Bedford.

National Grid reported more than 337,000 outages, including nearly 100,000 customers offline in Worcester County, in central Massachusetts.

NEW BERN, NC—While New York largely escaped the wrath officials had feared from Hurricane Irene, the massive, slow-crawling storm still delivered a powerful punch from the Carolinas to Connecticut, shredding roofs, flooding streets and homes, cutting power off to millions of people and leading to at least 15 deaths.

Emergency crews and residents began digging out in the South and mid-Atlantic states Sunday as Irene, downgraded in the morning to a tropical storm, plowed northeast through New England, downing trees and flooding roads. Damage from the storm, classified as a Category 1 hurricane for most of its journey up the East Coast, was generally lighter than many had feared, though official damage assessments will take days, authorities said.

Eqecat Inc., an Oakland, Calif., firm that provides risk models for catastrophes, estimated insured losses in North and South Carolina would range from $200 million to $400 million. The company also said the hurricane’s effects in North Carolina and Virginia weren’t expected to be as severe as after Hurricane Floyd, which caused widespread flooding in 1999.

North Carolina and Virginia bore the brunt of the storm, which unloaded about a foot of rain on both states. Ten people were reported dead in the two states, and about two million were without power Sunday.

On a tour of the North Carolina coastal region where Irene made U.S. landfall and then lingered all day Saturday, Gov. Bev Perdue said she would press the federal government to compensate farmers for tobacco and cotton crops that appeared to have been “seriously damaged” by the storm. “I think that’s going to be a huge cost,” she said.

Local officials in Craven County, N.C. estimated that hundreds of homes were damaged from felled trees, flooding and winds where Irene made landfall. But there were no fatalities. “I think overall, we’re very lucky,” said Stanley Kite, the county’s head of emergency services.

Emergency teams carried out more than 100 high-water rescue operations Saturday as a storm surge of about eight feet triggered inland flooding, said county manager Harold Blizzard. Some homes in New Bern, about 30 miles from the coast, were still sitting in three feet of water Sunday. About 80% of the county was still without power, and it could take “days” before it’s fully restored, said Mr. Blizzard.

In Nag’s Head, on North Carolina’s Outer Banks, dozens of jet skis that had come unmoored during the storm washed up on a grassy field, with some lying on their sides and others upside down. A fishing pier lost some of its pilings but remained standing.

Fallen debris and flooding caused hundreds of roads to be closed in the mid-Atlantic states, and officials urged residents to conserve water and stay indoors so as not to interfere with the work of cleanup crews.

Coast Guard officials said no major damage had been detected at the Port of Hampton Roads in Virginia, a shipping area home to many Navy ships as well as busy container terminals, and the depending on the results of damage assessments, the port could  re-open Monday.

Another bright spot was Ocean City, Md. Fearing storm damage, officials had ordered an evacuation from the resort city. But the city saw only “minimal damage” according to Gov. Martin O’Malley. Damage was also light in  Washington, D.C., where first responders and emergency crews worked through Saturday night to clear fallen trees and power lines.

Shoveling beach sand off his front yard grass Sunday, Tom Fraim, CEO of Masa Corp., a Norfolk, Va.-based printing and packaging company, said Irene didn’t come close to causing the kind of damage caused by a 2009 nor’easter, or Hurricane Isabel in 2003.

“The only concern I have is if it’s the start of a pattern – does this hurricane season send more along the same path as Irene,’’ said Mr. Fraim, who stayed at his house during the storm.

Though it had been downgraded by the time it reached New England, Irene still brought damage and tragedy to that region. An elderly woman was killed in Prospect, Conn.  after a downed power line started a house fire. New Hampshire emergency management officials urged residents to stay inside until after the storm ends, after several people were seriously injured by flying tree limbs.

The wind-fueled rains were dousing roads and causing isolated flooding and downed trees in Western Massachusetts Sunday. Small whitecaps churned on the Connecticut River. “There is a greater chance of trees going over because of roots getting saturated from the amount of rain we’re getting,” said Patrick Sullivan, deputy director of parks and buildings in Springfield, a city of 150,000 people.

The small Berkshires city of North Adams has effectively closed roads in and out of the community because of flooding. “This is worst weather event we’ve had here,” said Michael Cozzaglio, the police director in the city of 15,000.

–Valerie Bauerlein, Emily Steel, Michael R. Crittenden, Jess Bravin, Timothy Martin and Jon Kamp contributed to this article.

After somewhat ominous predictions early Sunday, transit officials say New York’s subways, buses and trains will lurch back into service Monday, albeit in fits and starts.

Some parts of the region could quickly see near-normal transit service from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Others will be waiting much longer.

It was too early to say which parts of the subway system had sustained the worst flood damage, MTA spokeswoman Deirdre Parker said.

Insurance brokers that arrange coverage for businesses said airlines, hotels, hospitals and other companies that incurred costs as they prepared for the storm or lost businesses because of it may have grounds to submit an insurance claim. Whether their losses are covered will depend on the specific wording of their policies, said Mike Nardiello of Marsh Inc.

Al Tobin of Aon Corp.’s national property practice said the storm, coming after earthquakes in Japan and New Zealand and record tornadoes in the U.S., could provide a justification for insurers to raise their rates.

“This is another significant event in what was already a tough year,” Tobin said. “It’s going to strengthen their case for why they need to take rates up.”

“I don’t think it’s going to move the dial,” he said. The storm could have effected the market had it arrived as originally projected: a Category 3 storm into Florida or further up the coast. “But a weakened category one isn’t going to do it,” he said.

Tropical Storm Irene’s center is moving over northern Massachusetts, about 65 miles south of Rutland, Vt., according to a 4:35 p.m. advisory from the National Hurricane Center. The storm’s maximum sustained winds have decreased to 50 miles per hour, and it’s moving northeast at 26 mph.

As the financial exchanges have jointly coordinated to open markets Monday, floor traders are making last-ditch efforts to make sure they can get to work on time.

“Everything is going to be up and running tomorrow, but you can’t plan on normal transportation,” said Jonathan Corpina, senior managing partner of Meridian Equity Partners, a broker that operates on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

He said some of the firm’s employees are planning on driving to Manhattan tonight and staying in hotels on the Lower East Side of the city. Half of the 30-person firm works on the NYSE floor.

Others who aren’t coming to Manhattan Sunday night will drive to the city as early as possible on Monday morning while avoiding mass transit.

Corpina also said the firm is prepared to operate from remote locations in Westchester, N.Y. as well as New Jersey, if necessary.

“We’ll have those up and running in case anything happens overnight or if people can’t get downtown,” he said.

As for Monday’s trading, Corpina isn’t expecting a lot of activity. The week before Labor Day is typically a quiet week. And with so many traders, in general, unable to make it to work because of mass transit problems, he’s expecting a quieter-than-usual day.

“There are a lot of major firms downtown that are going to be working with skeleton crews,” Corpina said. “Low turnout will likely translate into low volume.”

Tallying how much Hurricane Irene will cost the U.S. economy in terms of everything from smashed rooftops to lost Broadway ticket sales will take time, but it’s already clear it will be less than many feared.

The storm swept up the East Coast over the weekend, causing heavy flooding and killing at least 15 people. But damage appears to be less extensive than some analysts warned was possible from such a large storm.

It will be at least another day before companies that estimate insurance losses will come up with a total for Irene. So far, insurance industry estimates give a very rough tally of between $3 billion to $5 billion in insured losses. Of course, the total economic impact could be much larger. Read more >>

With hundreds of their stores closed along the East Coast from Hurricane Irene’s walloping, retailers are now preparing for reopenings.

From Wal-Mart Stores Inc. to Home Depot, trucks stand on the perimeters of affected areas ready to move in once conditions allow. The trucks contain everything from plaster board to diapers.

“The big national retailers have been through many natural disasters and know what people will want once they open their doors,” said Mathew Arnold, retail analyst at Edward Jones.

Still, it becomes a balance — trying to get consumers that are still rattled from the hurricane to consider shopping for merchandise other than necessities.

That is especially the challenge for companies like Macy’s Inc. and Saks Inc., both of which decided on widespread shutdowns of stores in the New York metro area Sunday, including their New York City flagships.

CVS, which has 200 stores closed — a number minimized, the company said, because stores can operate “off line” without power if necessary — may have it easier. The same holds true for fellow pharmacy Walgreens, with 400 locations closed.

President Barack Obama warned Americans Sunday that some of the impact from Hurricane Irene is yet to come and will be felt for weeks or longer.

“While the storm has weakened as it moves north, it remains a dangerous storm that continues to produce heavy rains,” Mr. Obama said in a brief statement from the White House.

“I want people to understand that this is not over,” he added. “Response and recovery efforts will be an ongoing operation.”

Mr. Obama spoke Sunday evening in the sun-drenched Rose Garden, which only hours ago had been soaked by Irene. He was flanked by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate.

The president said officials’ biggest concern continues to be flooding and cautioned that many more Americans could lose electrical power in coming days.

“The impacts of this storm will be felt for some time, and the recovery efforts will last for weeks or longer,” Mr. Obama said. “There are a lot of communities that will still be affected. We are particularly concerned about flooding.”

“Our thoughts and prayers are with those who’ve lost loved ones and to those whose lives have been affected by the storm,” he said.

A woman in Vermont was swept into the Irene-swollen Deerfield River Sunday and “is feared dead,” said Mark Bosma, a spokesman for Vermont Emergency Management.

State Gov. Peter Shumlin said during a televised press conference that a young woman, whom he indicated was from the town of Wilmington in the southern part of the state, was standing with her boyfriend near rushing water.

Expressing his “sorrow and concern,” Shumlin cited “a missing young woman who was last seen by her boyfriend floating down the Deerfield River.” Bosma said later that she hasn’t been found.

No other details on the young woman were given. “We have a missing person. Obviously our hearts go out to her family and to the Wilmington community,” Shumlin said.

“We’re hoping for the best there,” he added, while urging Vermonters to take the storm seriously.

Irene’s rains have proven more troublesome for Vermont than the storm’s winds, particularly in the south where the Deerfield River runs. It eventually meets up with the Connecticut River in Massachusetts.

“We’ve had several roads that have been washed out, especially in the southern part of the state,” Bosma said. “We’ve had a lot of people stranded in homes, in their cars. Our resources are stretched very thin.”

Providence’s hurricane barrier remained closed Sunday afternoon, as officials brace for an evening high tide following the passage of Hurricane Irene.

High tides in the morning were estimated at 8 feet, according to a spokesman for the Army Corps of Engineers, and the evening tide, due around 8 pm at Providence’s barrier, could be even higher.

Emergency personnel, and Rhode Island National Guard trucks and humvees, are in hard-hit areas including Warwick, preparing to evacuate more residents in the case of additional flooding.

More than half of Rhode Island households are without power, the state’s public utility division said Sunday afternoon. It could be days before most power is restored, said Thomas Kogut, chief of public relations for the Rhode Island Division of Public Utilities.

The city of Providence said Sunday that there is extensive damage, with downed trees and blocked roads throughout the city.

Areas north of New York City are coping with potentially hazardous environmental conditions after a fuel company situated on the banks of the Ramapo River was “decimated” by Hurricane Irene’s flooding and strong winds.

Between 15 and 20 trucks owned by home heating oil company SOS Xtreme Comfort, whose headquarters are located on a stretch of the 30-mile river that runs through the village of Tuxedo Park, N.Y., were submerged Sunday morning when the river overflowed as the region was hit by the storm, according to John Kilduff, president of the Tuxedo Park Volunteer Ambulance Corps.

Representatives for SOS Xtreme Comfort, which is the primary supplier of residential heating oil in Rockland and Orange counties, could not immediately be reached for comment.

“An environmental disaster is floating down the river,” Tuxedo Park Mayor Tom Wilson said in an interview Sunday evening.

Mr. Kilduff estimated that each truck held about 1000 gallons of fuel, and said several of the trucks were pinned up against the main storage tank, which contains many thousands of gallons.

He said the state hazmat team had been dispatched to assist the village as it attempts to contain the damage.

NEW YORK — AT&T Inc., Verizon Communications Inc. and Sprint Nextel Corp., said Hurricane Irene’s sweep of the U.S. east coast caused some disruption of service, though it wasn’t immediately clear what damage their network equipment had sustained.

The FCC said Saturday about 12,000 customers were without wireline service and winds had rendered 130 cell sites in North Carolina without power. AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and Deutsche Telekom AG’s T-Mobile USA said they were using backup power generators at some cell sites.

Hurricane Irene’s landfall marked the second big test of the companies’ networks in the past week after a 5.8 magnitude earthquake struck near Richmond, Va. While the carriers saw call volume spike, they reported no major network-equipment damage and only brief periods in which customers couldn’t make calls.

Starting Friday, the carriers and U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency had encouraged customers to use text-messaging instead of voice calls to help relieve congestion on the networks.

“We do have a minimal amount of wires and poles down due to the strong winds,” said Linda Laughlin, a spokeswoman for Verizon Communications, based in New York. She said some Verizon offices and technical sites were still running on backup power on Sunday. The company is sending out technicians to determine damage.

An AT&T spokesman, Mark Siegel, said the Dallas-based company was coping with some impact from North Carolina to Delaware and hadn’t yet assessed the New York area.

Sprint was experiencing some coverage outages along the coast and had technicians working to return service to normal, said spokeswoman Crystal Davis. “We are seeing higher than normal call volumes in the mid-Atlantic area, but this is not impacting performance,” she said.

On its website, Sprint said customers from North Carolina to New Hampshire may be affected by temporary disruption to wireless service.

T-Mobile’s network was operating at about 85% of capacity throughout the northeast U.S., said Bryan Zidar, a spokesman. “Virginia and the Washington D.C. markets are experiencing the highest impact due to widespread commercial power outages affecting millions of people,” he said, adding that the Bellevue, Wa.-based carrier was sending out crews to help alleviate problems.

U.S. financial exchanges Sunday confirmed a joint plan to open markets for a normal day of trading Monday.

A brief conference call was convened Sunday among major market operators and authorities, in which exchange executives confirmed that trading systems were viable and facilities generally undamaged by the biggest storm to strike the U.S. financial hub in years.

“The securities exchanges have informed the SEC that they will open for regular hours on Monday,” said John Nester, spokesman for the Securities and Exchange Commission.

NYSE Euronext, Nasdaq OMX Group Inc., BATS Global Markets and Direct Edge, together overseeing 72% of U.S. stock trade and about 51% of options, said in separate statements Sunday that the decision was made in unison and with the approval of market regulators.

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — The state is still grappling with “dangerous issues,” including possible evening surges coinciding with high tide on the south shore, and significant flooding in the western region, where water levels in the Deerfield and Housatonic rivers have rapidly spiked, Gov. Deval Patrick said in an evening conference call with reporters.

Mr. Patrick said he was grateful that Irene lost some of its power as it moved through Massachusetts Sunday, and said there had been no reported injuries or fatalities. But he added that he didn’t want to “declare victory yet.”

A chief concern is flooding from rivers and streams in the Connecticut River Valley in the western part of the state. Several small communities have evacuated residents, and a portion of Interstate 91 is closed because of flooding, although there have been no confirmed reports of breached dams, Mr. Patrick said.

Along the south shore and Cape Cod, officials were monitoring high tides coming in at Narragansett and Buzzards bays.

In addition, 344 residents were in shelters, and 485,000 were without power – and state officials warned that power may be slow to come back in some areas because of damage.

Some 15 rapid-reconnaissance teams will move out at dawn to begin assessing the damage, Mr. Patrick said. The state is also monitoring heavy flooding in southern Vermont.

The Boston area’s transit system should resume normal service Monday morning after a one-day hiatus, with some possible hiccups, after workers spent a rain-soaked Sunday clearing trees from train tracks.

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority and Massachusetts Bay Commuter Railroad Co., which runs the MBTA’s commuter trains, removed more than 100 trees or large branches felled by Tropical Storm Irene. Personnel will work through the night to clear rails and restore power to signal systems and overhead wires, the MBTA said.

“The MBTA is pleased to announce that most, if not all, modes of service will operate on a regular weekday schedule, effective Monday morning,” the transit agency said late Sunday.

One caveat could be the Riverside branch of the Green Line trolley system, which runs as a subway within Boston but an above-ground train to the west of the city.

“Many trees and branches came down on the tracks or overhead electrical wires, and crews are working very hard to have the Riverside Line ready for the morning commute,” the MBTA said. It called this line its “primary focus of concern.”

The transit system, one of the nation’s largest, shut operations Sunday morning. It sent around several pictures through the day showing trees blocking the tracks and crews working to clear the way.

As of 6:15 p.m. EDT, 909,259 homes and businesses were without power across New York state, compared with 936,101 three hours earlier, according to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The updated numbers include more than 418,000 customers without power on Long Island, Cuomo said.

The governor also said that the Federal Emergency Management Agency had approved an additional ten counties to receive federal assistance as a result of Hurricane Irene.

The five boroughs of New York City, as well as Nassau and Suffolk counties on Long Island, were part of the initial declaration.

On Sunday, FEMA also added Columbia, Delaware, Greene, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Schoharie, Sullivan, Ulster and Westchester counties for emergency protective measures and direct federal assistance, Cuomo said.

More than 300 members of the National Guard and personnel from the State Police and Department of Environmental Conservation were sent to Greene and Schoharie counties to assist residents stranded by severe flash flooding, Cuomo said. Evacuations have been ordered there by local officials anticipating more flooding, including the immediate evacuation of residents in the villages of Schoharie and Middleburgh.

Three Connecticut citizens are missing, about 700,000 households in the state are likely to be without power for days and several towns suffered significant storm damage in the wake of Tropical Storm Irene, Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy said during a press conference on Sunday evening after he spent the afternoon touring some of the most damaged areas along the coast.

The state is experiencing “extremely dangerous, high levels” of flooding along rivers and streams. Destruction was significant in coastal areas. Mr. Malloy said he saw three houses in East Haven, Conn. were destroyed and pulled out to sea, with about 20 more houses along the beach in that town experiencing major structural damage. A couple of houses looked like a doll house, with the entire front of the house removed. In West Haven, several hundred feet of sidewalk were removed. In Branford, a number of houses and streets were pummeled.

One elderly woman died in Prospect, Conn., early Sunday morning because of a house fire caused by a downed power line. Mr. Malloy said that there were no additional deaths to report. About 2,000 people are now in shelters, he said. After witnessing the destruction in some of the hardest hit areas of the state, Mr. Malloy said that he now is working with federal authorities to obtain a disaster declaration.

Tropical Storm Irene is moving toward the U.S.-Canadian border, with its center located about 20 miles south of St. Johnsbury, Vt., according to an 8 p.m. EDT advisory from the National Hurricane Center.

The storm has maximum sustained winds of 50 miles per hour. Major river flooding is occurring in parts of the Northeast, the hurricane center said.

New York-area airports set plans to reopen Monday, with LaGuardia resuming arrivals and departures from 7 a.m. EST, while JFK and Newark will take arrivals from 6 a.m. and departures from noon.

United and Continetal plan to start departures from noon, with Delta looking at later in the afternoon, though all carriers may have more cancellations as the effects from Irene work through their networks.

Teterboro in New Jersey, a favorite for corporate jets, suffered flooding, and reopening plans have yet to be finalized.

He may have been preparing for Hurricane Irene, but New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie had Katrina on the mind.

“If you think that that’s what it’s going to take to save people’s lives, err on the side of evacuating people. And that was in my mind the entire time when I was trying to make that decision, and I’m glad we made the decision we did,” he said. “I think we saved people’s lives.

“Watching those folks not havng been evacuated, those school buses sitting unused, we all remember those images. And I did not want to leave resources on the table and leave people (in) parts of the southern part of our state where they could end up losing their lives. My first job’s to make sure they don’t.”

Most of the New York City subway system will run Monday morning but with fewer trains than usual, officials said Sunday night.

New Jersey Transit, meanwhile, will be almost completely shut down, except for the Atlantic City branch, the agency said.

Some express trains, like the A and 7, will run local. There won’t be trains in the Rockaways. New York City buses were also returning to service.

Metro-North Railroad and the Long Island Rail Road are still shut down. A statement from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office said damage assessment on the two railroads was continuing.

Several houses located on a beachside avenue in East Haven, Conn., collapsed or were on the verge of collapsing Sunday evening in the wake of Tropical Storm Irene, said Officer Dan Paulson of the East Haven Police Department.

He said that he did not yet know the extent of the damage but there had not yet been reports of injuries. He said that local police officers were on the scene and state police also had been contacted.

Scott DeVico, a spokesman for Connecticut’s Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection, said that the state does not have an exact number for the number of houses “in various stages of disaster” in East Haven. He reiterated that the state is experiencing extensive flooding damage along the Shoreline and in low-lying areas of certain rivers and streams.

Mr. DeVico said state police also are on the scene in East Haven. He said that there have been no reports so far of people trapped in the homes.

Connecticut is experiencing “extremely dangerous, high levels” of flooding along rivers and streams, with destruction was significant in coastal areas, Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy said during a press conference Sunday evening.

Mr. Malloy said that he spent the afternoon touring some of the most damaged areas along the coast. He said he saw three houses in East Haven, Conn., destroyed and pulled out to sea, with about 20 more houses along the beach in that town experiencing major structural damage. A couple of houses looked like dollhouses, with the entire fronts of the homes removed. In West Haven, several hundred feet of sidewalk were removed, while in Branford, a number of houses and streets were pummeled.

An unknown artist, with a few rolls of 3M painter’s tape — widely used in marinas for boat varnishing jobs — spelled out a vital message on a boarded-up window at Grapes and Gourmet, a liquor store on the dock at Jamestown, R.I.: “Irene, Don’t Take the Beer.”

In Mount Holly, the county seat of south New Jersey’s Burlington County, the delayed effects of the hurricane were on display: Waters rose quickly late Sunday, submerging large parts of the downtown area.

A municipal parking lot was turned into a giant lake. Several feet of water engulfed an abandoned van. Dozens of onlookers gaped at the sudden flood, which swept through the town just as many believed the worst was over, the sun shining brightly in a cloudless sky.

“We’re starting to see the runoff now, and that will take some time to flow out through the Delaware River,” said Kevin Tuno, chief of the county’s emergency management office “It’s not like pulling the plug on a drain and the water quickly goes away.”

Many were unhappy about the decision by local officials to turn off electrical power in Mount Holly, which meant their basement pumps could no longer function and therefore keep up with the incoming water.

“We were managing it for a while but now without electricity, we’re getting a lot of water in the basement,” said Ashley Falzetti, a 31-year-old Mount Holly resident.

She and thousands of others in town could be without power for days–possibly up to a week–since building inspectors need to make sure each home’s electrical system is sound before turning the power back on.  Officials turn off power in severe floods to be sure water doesn’t short electrical systems, leading to fires.

In nearby Pemberton, two substations went down Sunday due to effects from the storm, which meant close to 90% of that area’s 30,000 residents are now without power, according to Mr. Tuno, the emergency management chief.

Nearly two-thirds of Rhode Island energy customers were without power in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene, according to the state’s main provider.

More than 313,000 customers — out of a total of 480,000 — had service interruptions as of 8:28 pm Eastern time, National Grid said, with trees down across power lines throughout the state. State officials said it could take days to restore power to some areas.

Swaths of Providence’s tony College Hill section were dark Sunday night, with tree branches on streets and candles lit in windows.

The city of Troy near Albany is facing a severe flood threat from swelling Hudson waters and a dangerously fragile dam, causing the mayor to declare a state of emergency and to begin evacuations of some residents.

Troy Mayor Harry Tutunjian warned residents on his Twitter feed that the Poestenkill dam, located east of the Hudson River near Brunswick Road along a flood-swamped tributary creek, is in “danger of breaking” and causing “tremendous damage.”

The city has already evacuated residents on Ida Street. With Hudson waters expected to crest late this evening or early tomorrow morning and topping the sea wall, the mayor said they’re preparing to evacuate coastal residents further north.

The rising waters are headed southward, as flooded tributaries gush into the Hudson. Mr. Tutunjian said yacht owners from New York City chartered their craft to Troy before the storm seeking refuge, and now find themselves buffeted by rising waters.

New Jersey Transit will operate on a severely modified schedule on Monday, as crews continue to clean up.

An announcement posted on the NJ Transit website informs commuters that rail service will remain suspended on all lines until further notice, except for the Atlantic City line, which will operate Monday.

After braving Tropical Storm Irene’s torrents of rain Sunday, New Yorkers were bracing for a snarled commute Monday, as transit officials scrambled to resuscitate the nation’s largest transit system.

Some trains would run, officials said late Sunday. New York’s subways would be largely operational, with the exception of some express trains and lines in the Rockaways. Officials warned that trains would likely be less frequent and more crowded.

The head of America’s emergency response agency says people shouldn’t underestimate the danger once Hurricane Irene passes. Federal Emergency Management Agency chief Craig Fugate says flooding, weakened trees and downed power lines pose a danger even after the storm moves north up the Atlantic Coast.

Fugate is urging people not to drive around and sightsee after the storm has passed through their areas. His advice: stay inside, stay off the roads, and let the power crews do their job.

The sound of saws buzzing could be heard across a sunny Monday morning in Connecticut as the clean-up of downed trees began in the aftermath of Irene.

With more than 700,000 households in Connecticut without power in the wake of the storm, the state’s major utility company said Monday that it was using helicopters to asses storm damage. The company said it has more than 800 crews working on returning power. Crews came in from as far away as Canada, Florida, Ohio, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, the Carolinas, Alabama and Michigan. Even so, some people are expected to be without power for several more days.

Residents along the Eastern seaboard faced a massive clean-up effort Monday after Hurricane Irene pounded tens of millions of Americans with wind, rain and floods.

The huge size and slow journey of the storm along 1,100 miles of U.S. coastline left an extraordinarily broad impact. At least 24 deaths were attributed to Irene as devastation ranged from North Carolina to Vermont. Toppled trees, fallen debris and flooding caused hundreds of roads to be closed over the weekend. Up and down the coast, some 2.4 million people evacuated.

In New Jersey, the ocean surge and rainfall caused severe inland flooding. The number of power outages in Massachusetts eclipsed half a million, and dramatic flooding began in the Catskill Mountains and the Hudson River Valley. Officials reported heavy flooding in central Vermont. Between 15 and 20 heating-oil trucks were pushed into the Ramapo River after a 9-inch torrent of rain fell near Tuxedo Park, N.Y., and the stream overflowed. “An environmental disaster is floating down the river,” said Mayor Tom Wilson in an interview. “There’s fuel spilling into the river. … It’s everywhere.”

Commuters in New York City and on Long Island can take trains to work Monday morning. Those in the northern suburbs and New Jersey, by and large, cannot.

Health-care giant Johnson & Johnson closed its world headquarters in New Brunswick, N.J., for the day due to Irene-related flooding and limited access roads, a spokesman confirmed. But J&J has had no significant damage at its facilities, he said.

Vermont authorities have confirmed an Irene-related fatality in the state. Police have recovered a body from the Deerfield River in Wilmington, according to a release from the Vermont Emergency Management agency, following reports Sunday that a young woman had been swept away there by floodwaters.

About 50,000 power customers in the state were without service early Monday, and flooded roads could make restoring electricity “a lengthy process,” the emergency agency said.

Still, there are also signs a flooding situation that has sparked evacuations, washed out bridges and isolated small towns may not be getting worse following high anxiety late Sunday.

“We started seeing water go down last night and it’s everywhere,” said Robert Stirewalt, spokesman for Vermont Emergency Management.

Officials in the state capital of Montpelier have been closely monitoring the Winooski River amid worries of rising water. In a 12 a.m. post on the city’s website, City Manager William J. Fraser said the river had receded slighting from a peak above 19 feet.

“Overall we do not expect conditions to get worse,” Mr. Fraser added. “Water will slowly begin receding into the morning.”

As of 8:45 a.m. EDT Monday, 945,257 homes and businesses were without power across New York State, including more than 419,000 customers on Long Island, according to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The “best estimate” of losses arising from Hurricane Irene as derived by risk-management firm Kinetic Analysis Corp. stands at about $7 billion. This value includes insured and uninsured physical damages, government and private spending to clean up after the storm, and unrecovered expenses for business interruption. Flood damage could add up to $1 billion to total losses for Irene.

Eqecat Inc. said it may turn out that rainfall is “the most damaging component” associated with Irene. According to Kinetic Analysis, the three states forecast to have had the greatest total impact from Irene, in descending order, are New Jersey, New York and North Carolina.

Now that Hurricane Irene has done its worst, thousands of homeowners are expected to begin filing billions of dollars in insurance claims–a process that’s lately become more complicated and costly. For tips on how to maximize your coverage, read this SmartMoney report.

Hundreds of thousands of power customers in Massachusetts woke up without service Monday, and some could remain in the dark for days, local utilities warned.

NStar had about 200,000 outages as of 8 a.m. Monday, with the impact widespread throughout its service terror in eastern Massachusetts, although areas around the south shore including New Bedford were particularly hard hit. A spokesman said on a recorded call that the utility is warning customers “they could be out for several days.”

National Grid, the other big electric utility in New England’s most populous state, had more than 330,000 customers off line Monday morning. A spokeswoman cited “extensive damage,” particularly in western parts of the state that took a more direct hit from Irene, and said “we’re looking at a multi-day event” to recover.

The utility is focused on public safety right now, she said, and is responding to critical customers like hospitals and fire departments. Downed trees and flooding in the west have isolated some towns, making access a problem, she said.

Just after 10 a.m. police in Parsippany, N.J., evacuated 75 people who were staying at a Holiday Inn along Route 46 due to severe flooding, according to a police spokesman.

The local police had already evacuated a nearby Howard Johnson and are working on getting people out of 500 homes affected by gushing waters from the Rockaway River.

Its flooding like we’ve never seen before,” said police spokesman Earl Kinsey. “We had three pumps working over the weekend but there was just so much water, when it got backed up the water went over the retaining wall protecting Lake Hiawatha.”

Police and emergency responders are trying to rescue the remaining residents of the town until the flooding waters recede.

—In Prospect, 89-year-old Charlotte Levine was killed early Sunday when a falling tree limb pulled power lines onto her house and started a fire.

_In Bristol, Shane Seaver, 46, died after he went canoeing down a flooded street and the canoe capsized.

—In Volusia County, Frederick Fernandez, 55, died Saturday off New Smyrna Beach after he was tossed off his board by massive waves caused by Irene

—In Flagler County, James Palmer, 55, of New Jersey died Saturday in rough surf. He was pulled to shore and his wife attempted CPR, but he was pronounced dead at the hospital.

—In Queen Anne’s County, Anne Bell, 85, was killed when a tree knocked a chimney through the glass roof of a sunroom in her house.

—Celena Sylvestri, 20, of Quinton, called her boyfriend and then 911 early Sunday seeking help getting out of her flooded car in Pilesgrove, police said. Her body was found eight hours later in the vehicle, which was about 150 feet off the road.

—Ronald Dawkins, a 47-year-old postal worker, abandoned his vehicle when it became partly submerged in water early Sunday, Kearny police said. He then tried to wade through rising water, and witnesses said he stepped into a hidden drainage creek. His body was found about two hours later.

—Scott Palecek, 39, was walking in Wanaque when a pipe broke loose and swept him away in floodwaters Sunday.

—Michael Kenwood, a 39-year-old Princeton Township rescue worker who was overcome by flood waters early Sunday morning, died Sunday evening, police said.

—A man in his 50s was electrocuted in Spring Valley when he tried to help a child who had gone into a flooded street with downed wires. The child was in very serious condition at Westchester Medical Center’s burn unit, said a spokesman for the Rockland County Emergency Operations Center.

—State police said they recovered the body of a woman who apparently drowned after she fell into Onesquethaw Creek in New Scotland, near Albany.

—Police in Suffolk County say 68-year-old Joseph Rocco of East Islip drowned while windsurfing in Bellport Bay.

—Two men were swept down the Croton River on Sunday evening after their inflatable boat capsized, and one of them died after being pulled down river by heavy currents, Croton police said.

—In Nash County, a man was killed after a tree limb fell on him outside his home Saturday morning as outer bands from the storm brought near hurricane-force gusts inland.

—Goldsboro police say a 15-year-old girl died Saturday afternoon after the SUV carrying her and family members collided with another SUV at an intersection where Irene had knocked out power to traffic lights.

—Authorities in Pitt County say a man was found dead in his home after Irene’s winds toppled a tree onto his house.

—Another man in Pitt County drove through standing water, went off a road and died after striking a tree on Saturday.

—A mother in Sampson County died Saturday morning when a tree fell on a car carrying her and two family members.

—New Hanover County deputies on Sunday afternoon recovered the body of Melton Robinson, Jr., who had been missing since falling or jumping into the Cape Fear River as storms from Irene reached North Carolina on Friday night.

—A 58-year-old Harrisburg man was killed Sunday morning when a tree toppled onto his tent, state police said. The man was one of about 20 people at a party on private property in East Hanover Township, Dauphin County, some of whom who decided to sleep outside.

—A man in a camper was crushed by a tree in northeastern Pennsylvania’s Luzerne County, state emergency management officials said

—A motorist was killed when he lost control of his car on the Pennsylvania Turnpike in Carbon County, skidded over an embankment and hit a tree. State officials attributed the accident to the storm.

—The body of 64-year-old Patricia O’Neill, of East Norriton, was discovered Sunday afternoon in the Wissahickon Creek, around a half mile from where her car was found in the flooded waterway

—Police have recovered a body from the Deerfield River in Wilmington, according to a release from the Vermont Emergency Management agency, following reports Sunday that a young woman had been swept away there by floodwaters.

—Newport News authorities report that Zahir Robinson, 11, was killed when a large tree crashed through his apartment shortly after noon.

— In Brunswick County, a tree fell across a car Saturday afternoon, killing 67-year-old James Blackwell of Brodnax.

—Chesterfield County police say a man died at a Hopewell hospital Saturday after a tree fell on a house that he was in.

—A King William County man, 57-year-old William P. Washington, was killed when a tree fell on him as he was cutting another tree on Saturday night

Hurricane Irene couldn’t keep New York’s financial district down. Wall Street’s best-known market was not only running, but trading up on Monday morning. For more details, read the full WSJ story.

Since 1979, the National Weather Service has rotated through a list of alternating male and female names, i.e., Arlene, Bret, Cindy, Donald, that it recycles every six years. Names are retired when a storm produces a particularly large number of fatalities and/or damage; it’s a sign of respect for victims and reduces confusion years later.

If Irene is retired as a hurricane name, it will be the seventh “I” name retired in the past 10 years. Imagine being the NHC – how does one come up with so many men’s and women’s names beginning with I?  (The “I” names retired so far: Iris, Isidore, Isabel, Ivan, Ike, and Igor).

Pulte says things look good in its Raleigh communities and along the Northeast Corridor. Meritage reports the same, citing “appropriate precautions.” No word yet from NVR, which had 62% of its communities in potentially troubled markets, according to Wells Fargo.

Still, the storm fell short of the worst-case scenario, so reports shouldn’t be worrisome. In stock market trading this morning: PHM climbs 2% to $4.57; MTH gains 3.4% to $17.76. NVR up a hair at $618.

President Barack Obama said Monday that his administration is focused on recovery now that Hurricane Irene has made its way through New England.

“It’s going to take time to recover from a storm of this magnitude,” Mr. Obama said. “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. So our response continues, but I’m going to make sure that FEMA and other agencies are doing everything in their power to help people on the ground.”

The Long Island Power Authority expects 90% of customers’ power on the island to be restored by day’s end Friday. Irene had knocked out power for 523,000 Long Islanders. So far power has been returned to about 125,000 customers, or about 24%.

In the aftermath of Irene, as Hamptons residents are taking the irritation of downed power-lines and tree-clogged pools in stride, one young artist has discovered a convenient canvas and a shaggy, new muse. Watch a video report from the end of New York’s Long Island.

A straining dam in Troy, N.Y., continued to worry local officials who warned it may not hold up against the onslaught of water Hurricane Irene dumped across the Northeast. Read the WSJ article.

Chase will waive select fees for account holders in Connecticut, New Jersey and New York — the three Irene-affected states where it has branches — through Sept. 4. Those customers won’t be held liable for using another bank’s ATM ($2), overdrawing their checking account ($34 per transaction, up to three per day), using overdraft protection ($12), or paying late on a credit card, business or consumer loan.

U.S. officials are “still very concerned” about flooding in a number of states caused by Hurricane Irene, the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency said Monday, suggesting several days of additional effects from the storm could be felt along the East Coast.

FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate told reporters on a conference call that his agency is working with the White House to ensure they have enough funding to provide assistance in the wake of the storm.

“We don’t know how big the numbers are going to be on this storm,” Mr. Fugate said, predicting it could take days as state and local officials along the storm’s path assess the damage.

The biggest immediate concern on Monday was flooding, particularly in upstate New York, Vermont and other New England states. Officials do not expect some rivers to crest until mid-week, suggesting further follow-on damage is possible in the days ahead.

At least two people died from flooding in Vermont, according to Mark Bosma, spokesman for the Vermont Division of Emergency Management.

A woman drowned Sunday near Wilmington, Vt. Today teams recovered the body of a man in Rutland, Vt., who was swept away in flooding Sunday. Rescue crews are searching for another man who was with and also carried away by rushing waters, Mr. Bosma said. Earlier police reports that a child had drowned in flooding were false, Mr. Bosma said.

Bridges and roads throughout the state were hit by the storm, and about 50,000 homes and businesses remain without power.

Some of the largest property & casualty insurers rose in early trading Monday after Hurricane Irene wreaked less destruction than expected up the East Coast and then fizzled away. An analyst also upgraded Allstate, arguing that its valuation has become much more attractive. Read more on Barron’s Stocks to Watch Today blog.

Damage from Irene has caused a death in Massachusetts, where a man was electrocuted Monday by downed power wires, state Gov. Deval Patrick confirmed.

The man, from the town of Southbridge, was killed early Monday when he touched a railing on his porch that was in contact with the wires, Mr. Patrick said, speaking during a televised press conference. He said more details would be available later when the family is ready.

“I am able sadly to confirm one fatality,” the Gov. said. “Our concern goes out to his family.”

Power outages have been a big state-wide issue in Irene’s wake, with about a half-million customers offline midday Monday, Mr. Patrick said. That is down from a peak of about 700,000. He said most people should have power by Monday night, although local utilities have warned it could take days to restore service for some customers.

Western portions of Massachusetts that took a more direct hit from the storm have also seen “extraordinary flooding,” Mr. Patrick said. He toured the region Monday and cited three rivers that had jumped their banks, flooded farm fields and residential communities and a covered bridge that washed away.

He fielded a question about why he wasn’t more visible during the storm on Sunday. He said the advice for Massachusetts residents was to stay indoors and out of harm’s way, and that he did the same with his family.

New York commuters from outside the city are faring much worse than those inside the five buroughs. If you are in the office in New York, read this update to prepare your way home.

Many airlines resumed a full schedule of flights at East Coast airports Monday, though they warned it could take several days to rebook all the passengers whose flights were canceled over the weekend.

On Monday, more than 1,500 U.S. flights were canceled, mostly at airports where there was no service on Sunday. As a result, few jets were parked at the gates overnight and ready for morning take-offs. More than 11,000 flights were shut down on Saturday and Sunday.

As of 12:45 p.m. ET Monday, 890,698 homes and businesses were without power across New York state, down from 945,257 four hours earlier, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Power had been restored to 125,000 customers on Long Island, leaving 398,000 without power, Cuomo said.

ConocoPhillips will restart its 238,000-barrel-a-day refinery in Linden, N.J., after shutting it down as a precaution against this weekend’s tropical storm, a source familiar with the operations said Monday.

The refinery will be in restart mode “over the next several days,” the source said. ConocoPhillips ceased operations to protect the refinery against Irene, which made landfall on the North Carolina coast as a Category 1 hurricane on Saturday morning but quickly diminished into a tropical storm as it headed north along the Atlantic coast.

Expectations that Irene would prove a major disruption to fuel refining and distribution mostly fizzled as the hurricane lost strength. Gasoline futures, which rose sharply Friday on expectations that refiners would face long shutdowns, fell Monday morning before moving up slightly in line with higher crude prices and a vibrant stock market.

Front-month September reformulated gasoline blendstock, or RBOB, was up 0.3 cents at $2.9380 a gallon.

Roughly three million utility customers lost electricity service in the U.S. mid-Atlantic and South over the weekend as Hurricane Irene swept up the coast, the region’s grid operator said Monday.

As of Monday midday, about two million utility customers were still without power in Virginia, North Carolina, Washington, D.C., Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, PJM Interconnection said.

The grid operator said some power plants “were impacted” by the hurricane, but that most of the damage was experienced at the distribution level, including electrical substations that were flooded and power lines that were knocked down.

Officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Small Business Administration are scheduled to meet with state officials this week to assess damage from Hurricane Irene and determine whether to make available federal aid, as well as small business, homeowner and renter loans.

The agencies are scheduled to meet with New York officials Tuesday, and Connecticut, Maryland, New Hampshire and Virginia on Wednesday, SBA spokeswoman Carol Chastang said. The visits include walking through or flying over areas, and visiting homes and businesses in the county to gauge damage.

Depending on what SBA, FEMA and state emergency management officials see, a decision will be made by FEMA whether that county will get a presidential disaster declaration. That could allow homeowners, renters and businesses owners in those counties to apply for physical disaster loans. Small businesses and private nonprofits might be able to apply for economic injury disaster loans, which help businesses get through rough patches during disasters.

Sunoco stopped operations at a crude unit at the Girard Point section of its Philadelphia refinery because of flooding from Irene, a source familiar with the refinery operations said Monday.

Rain and storm surges caused flooding at the335,000 barrel-a-day refinery’s tank farm, where it stores its crude oil, the source said. That forced a shut down of the crude distillation unit, the first stop for oil being processed into fuels. A Sunoco spokesman was not immediately available.

Consolidated Edison estimates that the majority of their New York City customers will have power restored by the end of the day Thursday and most Westchester customers by the end of the day on Friday, according to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The majority of homes and businesses on Long Island, as well as those in Orange and Rockland counties, that lost power due to Hurricane Irene should have their power restored by the end of the day on Friday, Mr. Cuomo said.

Upstate power utilities were still assessing damage on Monday and there may continue to be extended outages as flooding and downed trees are hampering the restoration, Mr. Cuomo said.

New York State officials Monday said they are investigating a report that several oil tanker trucks that had been submerged in flood waters in the town of Tuxedo, N.Y., were leaking into the Ramapo River.

Officials with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation found that six trucks with load capacities of 3,000 gallons were empty when they were hit by the deluge, agency spokesman Michael Bopp said. The trucks are owned by home-heating-oil company SOS Xtreme Comfort, whose headquarters are located on a stretch of the 30-mile river that runs through Tuxedo.

Several smaller capacity trucks were also submerged and a hazardous material team was still assessing if they were full or also empty, Mr. Bopp said. “Our initial assessment is that the threat is not as serious,” as it appeared when they received a call to their spill hotline, Mr. Bopp said. A full investigation is being conducted, he said.

Representatives of the heating oil company, which is a large supplier of residential heating oil in Rockland and Orange counties, didn’t return a message seeking comment. Officials with the offices of the Rockland and Orange county executives said they were aware of the spill reports and were monitoring the state’s reports.

While many of the major mall landlords have suffered little to no damage to their retail properties and have reopened a number centers after Hurricane Irene, some remained closed because of lost power.

The nation’s largest mall owner, Simon Property Group, said four of its malls along the Eastern seaboard remain closed Monday, including Menlo Park Mall in Edison, N.J., and Williamsburg Premium Outlets in Williamsburg, Va. Both properties are expected to reopen at their regular time Tuesday, a spokesman for Simon said. Crystal Mall in Waterford, Conn., opened its doors at 1 p.m. ET on Monday.

Taubman Centers Inc. said two of its malls in Richmond, Va — Stony Point Fashion Park and Regency Square — are still closed because of power outages.

TRENTON, N.J. — The federal government made emergency aid available Monday to New Jersey to help in recovery efforts after Hurricane Irene caused extensive inland flooding, said Gov. Chris Christie.

Meanwhile, New Jersey authorities said nine rivers are at record flooding levels, including the Millstone River, Assunpink Creek, Ramapo River and Rockaway River. Authorities said the rivers are cresting and they expected the flooding to continue to building through Tuesday.

More than 700,000 homes, businesses and buildings remained without power on Monday afternoon, New Jersey authorities said.

Mr. Christie, in a statement, praised the Federal Emergency Management Agency help, saying it will help “put assets into place where they were needed to help New Jersey residents impacted by the storm.” The aid would help state government defray the costs of the hurricane cleanup.

“It will also significantly lessen the financial burden this storm is taking on state, county, and municipal budgets,” Mr. Christie said.

Vermont rivers swollen by Irene’s heavy rains may be receding, but a tenuous and potentially dangerous situation remains on state thoroughfares.

“Many roads are still damaged, and many may be washed out under the road surface and could give away at any time,” the Vermont Emergency Management agency said in storm update, posted on its Facebook page.

“Local road closures are too many to list,” the agency added. “It is estimated more than 250 roads around the state are damaged, many of them are impassable. Every state road with the exception of Interstates 89 and 91 were closed at least for a time and many are still closed.”

Chris Cole, the director of policy, planning and intermodal development with the Vermont Agency of Transportation, said Irene had “an unprecedented impact to our state infrastructure.” He noted Vermont had many dirt highways that are vulnerable to flood damage. No county in the state was spared road closures, he said, but the impact was particularly bad in central and southern regions.

He also noted that freight and passenger railroad traffic was suspended in Vermont due to track damage.

Much of New Jersey Transit’s railroad will operate Tuesday after being almost completely shut down Monday, the agency said.

Delays and cancellations are likely, NJ Transit said in a statement. Crews are still working to repair parts of the railroad. Continue reading on Metropolis.

As of 5 p.m. EDT Monday, 796,244 homes and businesses were without power across New York state as a result of Hurricane Irene, including 345,798 on Long Island, according to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Power had been restored to 616,067 customers statewide since the storm reached New York state, Mr. Cuomo said.

Power continues to be a major issue for Connecticut, where about 589,000 customers are still out without electricity.

Gov. Dannel Malloy said today that many gas stations and grocery stores have not had power restored. The state will consider making a priority of providing generators to urban markets, especially those that serve populations that are not mobile or rely on public transportation.

Mr. Malloy also said 300 towers that serve cell phones were running out of back up power. Cable and internet is “not going to be quickly restored,” he said.

Rep. Jim Himes visited Bridgeport and residents to record Preliminary Damage Assessments to expedite the FEMA process.

The city had more than 8,000 United Illuminating customers without power, mainly due to downed trees and power lines. Mayor Bill Finch said “This storm packed a mean punch,” “We have significant damage citywide.”

Mr. Finch had called for a mandatory evacuation of low-lying areas; the area affected 15,000 people – and one third to one half of them left the area. About 700 people wound up in American Red Cross shelters, and about 30 remained this afternoon.

In a late Monday update, the Vermont Emergency Management agency said a man in his 40s was found dead in Lake Rescue in the town of Ludlow earlier in the day. Earlier officials confirmed the body of a man who had been swept away was recovered, and rescue teams have been searching for another man who had been with him and is missing.

The companion “is still missing and feared dead,” Vermont Emergency Management said in its update, posted on its Facebook page.

Flood waters have receded but most rivers and streams remain above normal levels and some are still dangerous, the agency warned.

Apparel retailers are hoping they can make up the weekend sales they missed during Hurricane Irene, when stores were closed up and down the Eastern Seaboard. Read the full article.

A Vermont electric utility says it could be weeks before all customers in the state have their power back.

But the damage caused by the remnants of Hurricane Irene to dozens of utility poles and many roads have washed away, leaving utility crews unable to reach affected customers.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has asked the federal government to skip a usual damage assessment and directly send aid to people and businesses affected by Hurricane Irene, officials said.

Mr. Christie signed the letter asking for expedited aid at about 6:45 p.m. in a radio studio just before he went on a monthly call-in show. On air, he said he had the State Police send it along to be scanned and sent to the president.

Mr. Christie said he had just spoken with President Obama, who pledged to do everything he could for the people of New Jersey. The governor sounded confident the aid would come within days.

“He is encouraging Secretary of Homeland Security Napolitano to cut the red tape on FEMA stuff so that it can flow even more quickly,” Mr. Christie said of his conversation with the president. “When the president of the United States is making those kinds of assurances, I believe that he’s going to be able to get it done, and I think he deserves great credit for the way FEMA operated in this storm.”

The request is rare but not unusual, FEMA spokesman Bill McDonnell said. Usually, officials tour affected areas and then make a decision. On air, callers pleaded with the governor for faster relief, and he told them he had asked for it.

The death toll from Hurricane Irene in New Jersey stood at seven Tuesday, while 431,221 people remained without power as of 3:30 a.m., state police said.

Though Irene had blown out of the state by Sunday, the effects of the storm are still getting worse in some areas of New Jersey. An evacuation was in progress overnight in Fairfield Township.

Most rivers in the state have already reached their highest levels — or crested — during the storm but some parts of the Passaic River aren’t expected to crest until 8 p.m. Tuesday. Record river levels have been gauged across the state.

More than 97,000 people were without power in coastal Monmouth County, as well as more than 45,000 in Morris County, the police said, citing figures from local power companies.

About 42,000 people in parts of Essex and Union counties are still under orders to boil water before using, and the state is providing bottled water in at the Maplewood community pool and the high school in West Orange.

About 1,500 people were in shelters overnight, including 787 people in five shelters in Somerset County, police said. That’s down from about 15,000 people in shelters.

Most NJ Transit trains were back to normal schedules, though 20- to 30-minute delays could occur, the agency said. The big exception remains trains between New Brunswick and Trenton, as well as the Montclair-Boonton line west of Montclair State University, where service is suspended.

Several major roads remain closed around the state, put out of commission by sinkholes and road collapses. For example, I-287 northbound in Parsippany was closed for some time, though one lane is expected to open Tuesday. Flooding closed scattered roads and exits throughout the state.

Two days after Tropical Storm Irene blasted into Connecticut, there are 14 towns in the state where 100% of residences are without power and are likely to face several more days without electricity.

Several schools districts, which were slated to open this week, are closed until after Labor Day. Hotels in the region are completely full, and cars snake around parking lots at Dunkin’ Donuts drive-throughs, where people are looking for a hot cup of coffee.

The state’s major utilities provider Connecticut Light and Power reported on Tuesday morning that more than 418,000 of its customers, or 33%, still lacked power. At the peak of the storm aftermath, more than 671,000 of its customers were without power. The company said Monday that it had deployed helicopters to survey the damage, brought in crews from as far away as Colorado to assist with the repairs and that is has people “working around the clock” to restore power to critical areas first, where the largest number of customers can be restored the soonest.

The company said on Tuesday morning that it had restored power to more than 408,000 customers. It said that 302 of nearly 1,000 roads had been cleared and that it was working with the state Department of Transportation.

Governor Dannel Malloy said on Monday that several gas stations and grocery stores still hadn’t had power restored and the state never had had as many lose power as they have with this storm and that restoration efforts will take time.

Above: On Monday, homes along the shore of Long Island Sound in East Haven, Conn., show damage caused Sunday by Irene. Photo: AP

As of 10 a.m. EDT Tuesday, 528,160 homes and businesses were without power across New York state as a result of Hurricane Irene, including 270,264 on Long Island, according to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. That’s down from 796,244 homes and businesses without electricity as of 5 p.m. Monday.

Consolidated Edison Inc. estimates that 90% of their New York City customers will have power restored by 12 midnight Tuesday and the majority of Westchester customers by 12 midnight Thursday, Mr. Cuomo said.

Mr. Cuomo said 95% of the homes and businesses on Long Island, as well as those in Orange and Rockland counties, that lost power due to Hurricane Irene should have their power restored by 12 midnight Friday.

National Grid estimates outages in the Troy district will be restored by Tuesday afternoon and the Hudson and Saratoga areas by 12 noon Wednesday, Mr. Cuomo said. National Grid expects power to be restored by 12 midnight Thursday in Albany, Glens Falls, Warrensburg, Ticonderoga, Northville, Gloversville, Cobleskill and Schenectady, Mr. Cuomo said.

Central Hudson Gas & Electric expects power to be restored by 12 midnight Wednesday to the majority of its customers in Columbia, Dutchess, Orange and Putnam counties, Mr. Cuomo said.

New York State Electric & Gas is expecting a prolonged outage for some its customers due to severe flooding in its service territory, Mr. Cuomo said.

About a quarter of a million power customers in Massachusetts still lack service following Irene’s swing through the New England state Sunday, but the tally has fallen from a post-storm peak around 700,000.

Utilities have also managed to cut the number of outages roughly in half since Monday, even though it could still take several days to get the last customers back on. National Grid recently reported about 165,000 Massachusetts customers without power while NStar said it had 84,000 outages.

According to National Grid, 20 of 27 transmission lines knocked out of service have been restored, and the rest are not associated with any customer outages. The utility expects to finish assessing damage today on lower-voltage distribution lines, allowing it to make restoration estimates for all communities.

“While we are making progress and have restored service to thousands, our crews continue to face challenges in many areas by flooding concerns, closed roads and bridges, and trees and limbs that will need to be removed,” said Ellen Smith, chief operations officer at National Grid, in a statement.

Outages are scattered around the state, although NStar said noted a heavy concentration in its territory on the state’s south shore. A spokesman said on a recorded call that utility has made “excellent progress” since Monday night, but that it could take “several days” to get some customers back online.

A couple other utilities with smaller service territories in the state are done with storm restoration efforts and are working on single customers, the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency said.

Katia has maximum sustained winds early Tuesday near 40 mph. The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami says strengthening is forecast and Katia is expected to be near hurricane strength by late Wednesday or early Thursday.

Katia is centered about 535 miles west-southwest of the southernmost Cape Verde Islands and is moving west-northwest near 17 mph. Hurricane specialist Michael Brennan says Katia could affect the Caribbean, but it’s too early to tell if it will hit the U.S.

The storm’s name replaces Katrina in the rotating storm roster because of the catastrophic damage from the 2005 storm.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, already socked with a string of disasters across the U.S. this year, is running low on funds as it copes with damage from Hurricane Irene, Nathan Hodge reports on the Markets Hub video.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has formed a task force to coordinate recovery in Upstate New York from flooding as a result of heavy rains from Hurricane Irene. The task force will be responsible for coordinating the state’s response as it seeks to rebuild infrastructure, spur economic development, renew affected agricultural operations and restore power, Mr. Cuomo said.

“From repairing roads and bridges, getting power back, helping with insurance claims and working with family farms, state government has rapidly mobilized to make sure that all available resources are in place to help the affected areas recover,” Mr. Cuomo said.

It will be headed by Darrel Aubertine, commissioner of New York State’s Department of Agriculture and Markets and Matthew Driscoll, president and chief executive of New York’s Environmental Facilities Corporation, Mr. Cuomo said.

Between 500 and 600 homes have been destroyed and numerous roads and bridges damaged by flooding, Mr. Cuomo said.

More than 200 Vermont roads remain impassable statewide, two days after Irene soaked the northern New England state and caused extensive flooding, and 13 communities are unreachable due to road damage, according to emergency officials.

Another eight communities only have limited access, the Vermont Emergency Management agency said in a midday update Tuesday. But all of these communities closed off by road damage will get food, water and other necessities from the state later in the day.

“These supplies will be trucked or flown in to communities, depending on accessibility, by the Vermont National Guard,” the emergency agency said. “The provisions were shipped in Monday night from the federal staging area in Massachusetts.”

Meantime, the agency also repeated that there have been three Irene-related fatalities confirmed in Vermont thus far, but another is expected because one missing man has yet to be found.

The power-outage tally has been whittled down to 20,000 customers without service, less than half the peak number following the storm, but it could take until the end of the week to restore some customers due to the road problems, the agency said.

Central Vermont Public Service was less optimistic Monday, when it said full restoration “could take weeks” due to the severe road problems.

All 500 road workers from the state’s transportation agency are working on repairs and to open the way to isolated towns, the emergency agency said.

Photo above (AP) Residents stand in line outside a grocery store on Tuesday in Rochester, Vt. The town has been completely cut off since Sunday.

Authorities in New Jersey are still evacuating people from flooded areas in the state’s northern counties, where at least one river has not yet reached its crest.

Gov. Chris Christie will be touring affected areas Tuesday afternoon in Passaic County, where the Passaic River was not expected to reach its height until this evening.

The New Jersey National Guard has 731 soldiers and airmen on duty, as well as more than 175 vehicles available, New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans’ Affairs spokesman Kryn Westhoven said.

The soldiers had been helping people in the northern towns of Bound Brook, Fairfield and Manville, which Mr. Christie toured on Monday, as well as Vineland in southern Jersey. The city of Paterson has requested help from the state’s National Guard to help with evacuations.

New Jersey’s U.S. senators are asking President Obama to grant the state’s request for expedited federal funding for Hurricane Irene victims.

Democratic Sens. Frank Lautenberg and Robert Menendez wrote a joint letter to the president describing the damage.

“Entire towns have been engulfed by flood waters, roads are closed, and lives have been lost,” the letter read. “Homes, businesses and personal property have received significant damage. The destruction will lead to severe hardship and the costs will be so great that many residents will not be able to rebuild their lives on their own.”

As The Wall Street Journal reported Monday, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie wrote a letter Monday evening requesting expedited help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Mr. Christie asked the president to make a declaration that would open up aid to residents and businesses affected by the storm. For smaller disasters, FEMA usually conducts tours and assesses damage.

Self-storage companies, those facilities that store excess bicycles, lamps and chairs for a modest monthly rental, are gearing up to sign more leases with businesses and homeowners displaced by Hurricane Irene.

“Where there is a lot of wind damage, residents and businesses are in need of further protection while repairs,” are getting done, said David Rogers, chief financial officer of Sovran Self Storage, Inc., a real estate investment trust based in Buffalo, N.Y. He said their facilities, under the moniker Uncle Bob’s, in Virginia and North Carolina should see a lot more demand compared to the Northeast region which suffered more flood damage.

Clint Halverson, a spokesman for Extra Space Storage, Inc., a REIT based in Salt Lake City, Utah, said the company usually sees higher-than-average revenue growth following a hurricane for one to two years. “This growth is dependent upon the size and severity of the storm, the level of damage inflicted (and) the community impacted,” he said.

“We expect (from Irene) there will be an … uptick because people are typically cleaning up their homes and getting things fixed,” he said. The company has about one-third of its 860 properties in Irene-hit areas, including six in Virginia and 27 in New Jersey.

Mr. Halverson also noted its storage center in Wayne , N.J. is closed because the roads to the facility remain flooded.

Connecticut was still girding for the possibility of more flooding Tuesday, nearly three days after Tropical Storm Irene moved through the region.

More than 400,000 customers remained without power across the state, with electricity for dozens of towns almost completely wiped out. More than 1,000 roads remain impassable.

“In Connecticut, the story’s not over,” Gov. Dannel Malloy said via cellphone Tuesday, as he drove between towns across the western part of the state to assess damage to homes and businesses. The governor said hurricane and flood-related losses to his state could reach hundreds of millions of dollars, and he is pressing the federal government to act faster in bringing aid to the state.

As water flows downstream from Vermont and Massachusetts, the swollen Connecticut River is expected to crest at some point Tuesday. New flood warnings have been issued across Connecticut — from Stanford through Hartford — and Malloy is again asking towns along the river to evacuate the area or move to higher ground.

Read more about the push to speed up FEMA’s response and the delayed start to the school year in WSJ’s Metropolis blog.

Claire Cook, a novelist and author of “Must Love Dogs,” was scrambling Tuesday to finish revisions on her new book, “The Family Dance,” which are due to her publisher Tuesday. Her home in Scituate, Mass., a beach town about halfway between Boston and Cape Cod, has been without power since Sunday morning, and utility workers have told her that she’ll likely be without power through the weekend. All the food in her refrigerator went bad, she said, so she had emptied it out.

Ms. Cook said she had been going to local coffee shops and even her gym, looking for places to charge her laptop so she can get work done.

“I just keep driving until I find a Starbucks that doesn’t have a line out the door. I finally found one yesterday that was three towns away. Everyone was fighting for plugs,” she said.

Ms. Cook said she expects to meet the deadline for her latest novel–her ninth–despite the inconvenience of the storm.

“What’s so ironic is that it’s a gorgeous day–beautiful sunshine, and it’s so nice and warm–it seems so incongruous to not have power,” Ms. Cook said. “Our family dance is sitting around the kitchen table each night fighting over candles.”

Photo above (Getty Images): Novelist Claire Cook at the Hollywood premiere of ‘Must Love Dogs’ in 2005.

The Long Island Power Authority expects to blow through its $47 million storm-restoration budget and appeal to the Federal Emergency Management Agency for reimbursements of funds spent repairing damage done by Tropical Storm Irene, a spokeswoman said Tuesday.

The storm, which strafed Long Island with high winds and lashing rain early Sunday morning, left 523,000 customers — or about half of LIPA’s 1.1 million customers — without power. As of Tuesday afternoon, power had been restored to about 253,000, and about 2,400 crews had been deployed, most of them subcontractors.

The biggest problem remains fallen trees, which often take down power lines when they crash to the ground in high winds. Towns like Huntingdon, Brookhaven and Hempstead were particularly vulnerable to the storm because they have lots of older trees, according to Vanessa Baird-Streeter, a spokeswoman for LIPA. The nonprofit utility expects power to be restored to 95% of its customers by the end of Friday, and to fully return to normal service levels over the weekend.

“We’ll probably have some stragglers, depending on the extent of the damage,” the spokeswoman said. Read more about the recovery effort by Long Island’s electrical utility at WSJ’s Metropolis blog.

The Passaic River continued to rise Tuesday, causing flooding and new rounds of evacuations in northern New Jersey as hundreds of residents in Paterson were evacuated in Hummers and motorized rafts.

A one-story home near the river was completely engulfed in water, its peak the only visible part, according to one witness. Water crept up to street signs in some areas. “A good quarter of the town is under now, it’s historic,” said Paterson Fire Department Battalion Chief Edward Olszewski. “We have boats that can’t even get to areas because the water is so swift.”

Residents were evacuated Monday night and throughout Tuesday as the river continued to rise. It was expected to crest at about 8 p.m. ET on Tuesday.

Damyan Comer and his wife Ebony Peak were evacuated Monday night. The couple rents a home near the river and noticed the water had reached the basement latch. They got in their Honda with their two young kids and drove to the top of the bridge but were unable to cross it. They left their car at the top of the bridge and walked back to their house before a boat evacuated them.

“When they came to rescue us the water was knocking on the first floor,’ said Ms. Peak, 33 years old.

Mr. Comer, 36, said before they got on the boat he stepped onto the street. The water was up to his chest, at least five feet high. “You have to start all over,” he said. “We literally have nothing. Everything is in the house.”

Tuesday, Theresa Stradford, a 54-year-old resident born and raised in the area, was evacuated by officials in a Hummer. She said the power was cut off from her house just before 7 a.m., after which she noticed three feet of water on her front porch. Officials in a Hummer drove her to an evacuation center at Bergen Community College. She planned on staying with her sister, who lives in Elmwood Park.

“The water just rose overnight,” she said. “We won’t know the extent of it around the house until we go back. We couldn’t come out of the front of the house.”

Michelle Huljack leaned on her window sill and looked out onto a street piled with couches, televisions and other detritus that came from a block full of flooded houses.

The scene was a familiar one. Hurricane Irene was the second flood in two years to destroy her home. “If it rains two inches, we are at risk of being flooded,” she said. “We are the lost town.”

Ms. Huljack lives in Middlesex Borough, N.J., east of Bound Brook. Irene left a foot of water in her green ranch house, and a similar amount in the homes of her neighbors on 3rd Street.

After they were forced to evacuate at 7:00 Saturday night, a torrent of rainwater rushed into their neighborhood. It was nearly chest high in the street.

Claudia Mejia, Ms. Huljack’s neighbor, took a rowboat to her house Monday. Inside, the $65,000 renovation she undertook after last year’s flood was completely destroyed. The waterline came up to the middle of her kitchen cabinets. Her wedding albums were drying on the couch.

Mrs. Mejia and her husband have lived in the house for three years. When they bought it, the Realtor told them that even though it was in a flood plane, the neighborhood never flooded.

“They said, ‘Oh, it’s a flood zone, but it hasn’t flooded in 100 years.’ Well, it’s flooded every year,” she said.

Chuch Buda’s house next door had a tree crush his roof. It came out from the roots. A retired research chemist, he has lived in the house with his wife Sandra for 34 years. He said this was the worst flood he’d ever seen.

The neighborhood organized an impromptu meeting with the mayor Tuesday afternoon. They all just showed up at Borough Hall at 1 p.m. ET. The mayor didn’t have much to tell them. “He said we have to talk to our senators, talk to our congressman,” Ms. Huljack said.

She bought her house for $288,000 five years ago. They are selling for $200,000 today, she said. “We owe more than what it’s worth. We can’t sell,” she said amid the piles of belongings stacked in her living room.

In the newly renovated bathroom, mud caked on the tiles. Vacuum cleaners were stacked in the bath tub.

Neighbors have called their insurance companies. Most expect to wait four or five days for someone to arrive. Until then, they are staying with family and friends. Or renting hotel rooms.

They hope that the Federal Emergency Management Agency will be able to do something to help — pay for them to relocate, help them rebuild, or provide funds for a stalled project to protect the town with flood gates, like in neighboring Bound Brook.

“FEMA did as much as they could last time,” Mrs. Huljack said. “Middlesex Borough desperately needs to be fixed.”

Mark Lawrie and his son Robert pulled into the parking lot at the John Winthrop Middle School in Deep River, Conn., on Tuesday afternoon, the bed of their orange pick-up truck filled with three empty gallon jugs and two giant plastic tubs. The two men were looking for a shower.

It’s been nearly three days since the Lawrie family has had power or water in their home, just a ten minute drive away in Westbrook, Conn. Along the way, they saw giant trees uprooted, limbs hanging on power lines, branches crashing into roofs. In Westbrook, 100% of the town remains without power in the wake of Tropical Storm Irene. Traffic lights are out. Gas stations and grocery stores are closed. The stores that are open, are taking cash only.

Mark Lawrie, 55, said that his family had prepared for the storm on Saturday, filling bathtubs in the house with water and getting 20 gallons of water. They’d stocked up on candles, batteries and nonperishable foods, crammed blocks of ice into the freezer. He’d tracked the intensity of the storm and knew it’d be serious.

The family woke up at about 8 a.m. on Sunday morning, just as the storm was beginning to tear across the state. Mark Lawrie said he knew there wasn’t any power when he woke up and saw that his clock radio was off. As the storm howled outside, gusting winds and shaking the trees, the family spent the morning playing poker.

Mark Lawrie, a post master, returned to work this week. Twenty-one-year-old Robert Lawrie, who is unemployed, said that he’s been cleaning up his family’s home and went over to his grandparents to help them clean up, too.

The men learned from a Red Cross volunteer that he spoke to on Monday that people could go to the middle school in Deep River for a shower and water. Mark and Robert Lawrie showed up with towels, soap, shampoo and deodorant at about 3:30 p.m. for their first shower since Sunday.

Mark Lawrie said that he’s hoping the power will come on within a day or two, and that while the lack of electricity has been inconvenient, that he’s satisfied with the government and utility company’s response.

“It’s so hard to staff for something like this,” he said, saying he was impressed how Connecticut Light & Power has brought people in from several states away to get the power switched back on across the state. One worker dealing with a tree that fell in front of his house was from Oklahoma.

In devastated Greene County, N.Y., residents continued to stream to their neighborhoods, snaking their way past many detours that were created by collapsed roads on structurally compromised bridges.

In Prattsville, one of the towns hardest hit by flooding, residents attempted to salvage valuables from homes that were, in some instances, swept off their foundations and crushed. People loaded trash bags full of clothes and other artifacts, including family photos, into waiting pick up trucks and SUV’s.

Those whose homes were spared outright destruction pumped water out of their basements and ground floors while wondering if the houses would be condemned.

About 220,000 customers are without power in New Jersey, down from about 850,000 at the peak of the outages from Hurricane Irene, Gov. Chris Christie said Tuesday evening.

Mr. Christie toured flooded areas in Passaic and Essex counties on Tuesday afternoon, and he said he saw flood victims in  “extraordinary despair.”

“Some of the stuff I saw and experienced was pretty incredible,” he said, mentioning one home exploded and was under investigation.

Mr. Christie said he was concerned about possible price gouging and home repair fraud, and urged people to call the state’s consumer affairs division at 800-242-5846.

The state’s department of transportation has removed 234 downed trees, and there were only 36 roads blocked Tuesday, down from 350 on Sunday, he said.

Connecticut residents might not see power fully restored until next Wednesday, said Jeff Butler, President and COO of Connecticut Light & Power, the state’s largest power provider, on Tuesday.

About 300,000 people were still without power by Tuesday evening, with more than a dozen towns without power completely. CL&P said by Friday it expected to have 1200 line and tree crews working to restore power throughout the state.

“Let’s be very clear, our number one concern is electric power,” Gov. Dannel Malloy said at a briefing Tuesday at the state’s Emergency Operations Center in Hartford. “Three hundred thousand people are out of power, many requiring water to get their drinking water, this is a terrible situation.”

Power companies said hospitals are already off generators  and that the next focus is nursing homes, wastewater treatment plants, schools and grocery stores.

“Our goal over the next 48 hours is to get all the town centers including gas stations, pharmacy and grocery stores,” Mr. Butler said.

Mr. Malloy also said that 37 towns have requested and will receive food and water provisions.  On Wednesday, 12 tractor trailers of water and 15 tractor trailers of food are set to arrive from FEMA, in addition to the 21,300 meals and 92,160 liters of water that has already been sent out.

Hundreds of residents in this northern New Jersey town evacuated in Hummers and motorized rafts on Tuesday as the neighboring Passaic River rose to its crest days after Hurricane Irene blew through the state.

A one-story home near the river was completely engulfed in water, its peak the only visible part, according to one witness. Water crept up to street signs in some areas.

“A good quarter of the town is under now, it’s historic,” Paterson Fire Department Battalion Chief  Edward Olszewski said. “We have boats that can’t even get to areas because the water is so swift.”

New Jersey continued to recover from the storm’s damage Tuesday, as the number of people without power fell from 850,000 to 220,000.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said he said he expected power to be returned by Friday, saying the utility companies have done a “pretty extraordinary job” after the worst storm in 100 years.

“I understand that if you haven’t had your power restored, you don’t give a damn about the 630,000 people who have gotten their power restored,” he said. “People can be frustrated about their personal situation, but they can’t be frustrated by the progress the utility companies are making. … We have to have some perspective here.”

He said people without power should go to places like Wayne, which he toured Tuesday afternoon, where people have had to “start their lives over.”

“If you see that, you can do without power for another day or so, in the grand scheme of things,” he said.

Authorities in Lawrence Township, N.J., are searching for a man who was sucked into a sewer drain after trying to relieve flooding on a property.

At around 2:15 p.m. Tuesday, police received a call that a man was sucked into the drain, which is a 40-inch sewage line, Lawrence Township Police Chief Dan Posluszny said.

Another worker was partially sucked into the whirlpool created when they opened the drain, Chief Posluszny said.

The man’s name or age is not being released. Officials are sure he went into the drain pipe, but they cannot confirm his death yet. About 150 people are on scene trying to find the man, who was the owner of the property where a business was located, Chief Posluszny said.

There have been at least seven confirmed deaths attributed to Hurricane Irene in New Jersey, which saw record flooding in its rivers and flash floods across the state from Hurricane Irene. One additional man was reported to have fallen off of a bridge in Dover, and authorities have suspended the search but will resume when conditions are safer, a State Police spokesman said.

An earlier version of this post gave an incorrect reason why the second worker was in the drain. He did not enter on a rescue mission but was accidentally sucked in.

A man in Lawrence Township, N.J., died after being sucked into a sewage drain trying to relieve flooding on his commercial property.

The man’s body was recovered shorty before 11 p.m. at a treatment plant after a massive search. Police received a call at around 2:15 p.m. Tuesday that the man was sucked into the 40-inch sewage line, Lawrence Township Police Chief Dan Posluszny said.

Another worker was partially sucked into the whirlpool created when they opened the drain, Chief Posluszny said.

This is the eighth confirmed death attributed to Hurricane Irene in New Jersey, which saw record flooding in its rivers and flash floods across the state from Hurricane Irene. One additional man was reported to have fallen off of a bridge in Dover, and authorities have suspended the search but will resume when conditions are safer, a State Police spokesman said.

Residents and businesses in eight New York counties hit hard by Irene will be able to apply for federal aid now that President Barack Obama has declared a disaster in those counties.

The declaration covers Albany, Delaware, Dutchess, Essex, Greene, Schenectady, Schoharie and Ulster counties, and opens up grant programs for temporary housing, home repairs, property and economic damage, as well as low-cost loans and other programs. The Federal Emergency Management Agency said individuals can apply starting Thursday for aid by registering at or calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362).

While most of New Jersey cleans up from the record floods brought by Hurricane Irene, the city of Paterson is still fighting the floodwaters.

At 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, streets throughout the downtown area remain inaccessible and flooded. Traffic is snarled and only two of the city’s 11 bridges are operating as workers inspect the infrastucture for damage.

Mayor Jeffrey Jones said more than 1,500 people have been displaced and evacuations continue. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is expected to arrive in Paterson later Wednesday.

“There’s frustration, there’s disappointment,” said Mr. Jones, standing on the steps of the city’s police headquarters. He was there for a meeting on the progress of cleanup efforts. The mayor said he hoped to re-open the affected parts of the city by Thursday morning.

Mr. Jones said the city is now divided between residents that are returning to their normal lives and those that are still displaced by the floods. “The day of the storm, everyone was concerned,” he said. “Now only the people affected are concerned. It’s a tale of two cities.”

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday toured the upstate town of Prattsville, one of the communities hardest hit by flooding, where he announced that the economic impact of Irene will likely eclipse $1 billion.

Mr. Cuomo arrived just before noon, after taking in an aerial view of the devastation from one of three Blackhawk helicopters, accompanied by FEMA administrator Craig Fugate, DHS secretary Janet Napolitano and local officials.

He said Greene County, home to Plattsville, was one of eight in the state that have been approved for a presidential emergency disaster declaration for individual assistance – clearing the way for FEMA to begin registering homeowners for federal aide.

Eighteen additional counties have been approved for public assistance, where they will be refunded for 75% of their clean up and recovery costs. Mr. Fugate said of those 18, some will likely become eligible for full individual assistance as their damage assessments become clearer.

Mr. Cuomo said more than 600 homes have been destroyed statewide, while six towns were inundated, 150 major highways damaged and 22 state bridges were closed. At least 140,000 acres of agriculture was damaged, costing more than $45 million, he said.

“There are two realities to what Irene did to New York,” Mr. Cuomo said. “One reality was that New York City and Long Island – in some ways we celebrated that the damage wasn’t as bad as it could have been,” he continued. “There’s an exactly opposite reality in upstate New York.”

He said the region “paid a terrible, terrible price for this storm and is going to need our time and attention and resources to restore.”

Ms. Napolitano praised Mr. Cuomo and the State for it’s preparations for Irene, saying it “minimized loss of life” and damage to property. She pledged that “FEMA will not be going” and urged citizens to be patient. “Recovery: that takes longer,” she said. “It takes patience and commitment.”

Along Prattsville’s main street, Route 23, a large FEMA trailor was set up with a phone bank for people to register with the agency.

Mr. Cuomo’s visit to Prattsville elicited feelings of guarded hope from the residents of the tiny town of 500 people that is nestled in a valley at the northern tip of the Catskill Mountains. It sustained extensive damage after the sluggish Schoharie Creek overflowed.

Al Creazzo, 70, the owner of a film production company in town, said Mr. Cuomo’s visit gives “exposure” to Prattsville’s plight. “There’s a lot of politics going on, which is fine, but the town’s needs have to be addressed,” he said.

Brian Young, 32, whose store was used as a backdrop for Mr. Cuomo’s press conference later spoke with the Governor. He said Mr. Cuomo “encouraged mom to keep her chin up and stay optimistic.”

“It’s what I’ve been telling her all along, to stay positive,” he said. “It was brief but he came by and that’s important.”

Kevin Piccoli, 53, an accountant from New Jersey who has a weekend home in Plattsville has been in town volunteering, helping residents clean-up their damaged homes and business with his son, Michael, 18. “I hope it’s not just a photo opportunity and that he actually comes back and is true to his word and helps us out,” Mr. Piccoli said of Mr. Cuomo’s visit.

Howard Glazer, Mr. Cuomo’s director of State operations, said two recovery command centers have been opened in the Catskill region and that 16,000 liters of water have been delivered and 22,000 meals have been brought to areas that are “still somewhat inaccessible.”

He said heavy construction equipment has begun moving into areas to clear debris and fix damaged roadways.

He said in New York, about 330,000 people were still without power, down from 1 million Sunday night. Mr. Cuomo said about 80% of state residents should have their power restored by Wednesday night.

Photo above (AP) New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, right, with state Sen. James Seward, second from right, comforts Ricard and Emily Morse while surveying the damage caused by Tropical Storm Irene in Prattsville, N.Y., Wednesday.

Nearly two million U.S. utility customers were living through their third or fourth day without electricity following Hurricane Irene, the U.S. Department of Energy said Wednesday.

More than 1.8 million utility customers in 14 East Coast states were still in the dark late Wednesday morning, down from 6.7 million when the hurricane swept up the coast over the weekend.

Many utilities relied on crews on loan from utilities in other states, as well as hired contractors, to help clear trees and branches and repair electricity facilities.

Long after the wind and rain died down, the storm has left flooding in Connecticut, New York and New Jersey, making some areas inaccessible by car and truck and hampering power restoration efforts.

In Connecticut, more than 366,000 were without power Wednesday, down from about 702,000 during the storm, the Energy Department reported. More than 300,000 customers of Northeast Utilities’ Connecticut Light & Power were still in the dark, about one quarter of the total customer base.

In New York, more than 323,000 customers were without electricity, with more than half of them–189,500–served by the Long Island Power Authority.

In New York City and Westchester County, more than 19,000 customers of Consolidated Edison Inc. were in the dark Wednesday.

Almost 190,000 in New Jersey were without power, most of them customers of FirstEnergy Corp.’s Jersey Central Power & Light. More than 15,000 customers of ConEd’s Orange & Rockland utility also were without electricity, while more than 42,000 customers of Public Service Enterprise Group Inc.’s PSE&G were still without electricity.

Dominion Resources Inc. said it has restored power to 77% of customers affected by the storm, although nearly 250,000 of its Virginia customers were still without electricity Wednesday. Richmond and other inland areas were particularly hard hit by Irene’s high winds that lasted as long as 12 hours in some areas. The wind knocked down trees and branches, which in turn toppled hundreds of utility poles and power lines, said Dominion spokesman Dan Donovan.

Dominion had 7,000 people working on the restoration effort, many of them from utilities in Michigan, Indiana and five other states, as well as contractors and retired Dominion employees, Donovan said.

In Massachusetts, about 144,000 utility customers still lacked power service, the Energy Department said. National Grid recently reported more than 100,000 of its Massachusetts customers were without power while NStar (NST) said it had 35,000 outages.

In Maryland, more than 171,000 were still without power, with 140,000 of them in the Baltimore area, served by Constellation Energy Group Inc.’s Baltimore Gas and Electric.

In Rhode Island, more than 112,000 were still without power, with more than 97,000 of them in National Grid’s service territory.

LINCOLN PARK, N.J. — Gov. Chris Christie said the people in New Jersey can’t wait for Congress to figure out budget cuts before sending federal disaster aid.

The governor said it would be fine to make budget cuts to offset spending by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, but those battles should happen later. He appeared with members of the state’s congressional delegation, FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate and U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano.

“Nobody was asking about offsetting budget cuts in Joplin,” Christie said, referring to the tornado-ravaged town in Missouri town, “and I don’t want to hear about the fact that offsetting budget cuts have to come first before New Jersey citizens are taken care of.”

On Monday, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R., Va.) said that as FEMA funding dwindles, storm aid should be offset with budget cuts. Christie warned against allowing political disputes over spending to slow disaster aid to New Jersey.

“You want to figure out budget cuts, that’s fine,” Christie said. “You’re going to turn it into a fiasco like that debt-limit thing where you’re fighting with each other for eight or nine weeks and you expect the citizens of my state to wait? They’re not gonna wait, and I’m going to fight to make sure that they don’t.”

President Barack Obama signed a major disaster declaration covering damages in New Jersey on Wednesday, opening up the federal funding stream to individual residents and business owners affected by Hurricane Irene.

Gov. Chris Christie on Monday requested an expedited disaster declaration, saying the storm damage was so obvious the Federal Emergency Management Agency did not need to survey areas in person, according to Gov. Christie’s spokeswoman Maria Comella and Bill McDonnell, a spokesman for FEMA in New Jersey.

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