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Irene remains threat to U.S. even the worst is gone (2)

(Xinhua)

13:15, August 29, 2011

FLOODING REMAINS BIG THREAT

"Many Americans are still at serious risk of power outages and flooding, which could get worse in the coming days as rivers swell past their banks," Obama said.

Much of the mid-Atlantic and New England states, including New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine, remained under flood warnings and watches Sunday night.

In New Jersey, where more than one million people were evacuated from the shore for fears of coastal flooding, people are now facing a new challenge -- inland flooding, according to Governor Chris Christie. The state suffered extensive flood damage along swollen inland rivers.

"Tomorrow is going to be a very difficult day," he said Sunday evening. "Don't go to work if you do not have to."

It would be too early to tell the economic toll of Irene, but Christie warned it might be enormous.

"I've got to imagine the damage estimates will be in the billions of dollars if not the tens of billions of dollars," he said on a NBC News program Sunday.

Irene slammed into Little Egg Inlet, New Jersey, about 5:30 a.m. (2130 GMT) Sunday, when it remained a Category one hurricane with sustained winds of 75 mph, the NHC said.

RECOVERY NEEDS TIME

While some of the disruptions caused by the storm may end soon, like removing fallen trees or returning road traffic to normal, others may need more time. One of the biggest challenges is to restore power supply.

"Power may be out for days in some areas, and we will support our state and local partners in every way that we can as they work to restore power in those areas," Obama said.

More than seven million people and businesses from Carolinas to Maine were knocked out of power, as power lines were downed by strong winds and heavy rains. Some power plants shut down or reduced operation out of precaution. While some of the power supply has been restored gradually, more than five million customers remained in the dark by Sunday evening.

Flights resumed Sunday at airports around Washington, Philadelphia and Richmond, after more than 11,000 flights were canceled nationwide over the weekend. Three major airports in the New York area --Kennedy, LaGuardia and Newark-- are expected to reopen Monday.


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