August 27th, 2011
02:45 AM ET

Live blog: Hurricane death toll at 9; New York closes bridge entrance, port

Hurricane Irene continues to crawl north after making landfall Saturday morning in North Carolina. The storm is expected to head up the East Coast from Virginia to Maine, bringing hurricane-force winds, heavy rain, flooding and widespread power outages.

Follow the latest developments here, or read the full CNN Wire story:

[Midnight] Authorities shut down the Port of New York and the Port for Long Island Sound late Saturday as Hurricane Irene closed in on the New York City area. Also, the Palisades Interstate Parkway entrance to the George Washington Bridge in New York City has been closed due to weather conditions, according to a statement from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

[Update 11:40 p.m.] U.S. President Barack Obama has signed a disaster declaration for Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene.  The declaration frees federal funds to help in the recovery effort, according to the White House.

[Update 11:20 p.m.] The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transit Authority closed down late Saturday because of a tornado warning in Philadelphia, according to SEPTA representative Jerri Williams.

[Update 11:05 p.m.] Irene remains a category 1 hurricane with sustained winds of 80 mph and gusts to 100 mph, the National Hurricane Center said in its 11 p.m. ET advisory.

[Update 11 p.m.] Storms in Delaware damaged 30-40 homes Saturday night in the town of Lewes, according to Ed Schaeffer, a fire department spokesman.  Five of them were damaged severely. There were no injuries, he said.

A tornado watch remains in effect until 5 a.m. Sunday.

[Update 10:47 p.m.] The National Weather Service has issued a tornado warning until 11 p.m. ET for the city of Philadelphia, including east-central Chester County, northeastern Delaware County, central Philadelphia County and southeastern Montgomery County.

[Update 10:37 p.m.] New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, addressing reporters Saturday night, said residents should prepare to hunker down as Hurricane Irene approached. "The storm is finally hitting New York City," he said.

“The time for evacuation is over. Everyone should go inside and stay inside," Bloomberg  said. "The city has taken exhaustive steps to prepare for whatever comes our way.”

[Update 10:26 p.m.] The National Weather Service has issued tornado watches - extending through 5 a.m. Sunday - for parts of southern Delaware, eastern New Jersey, southeastern New York and Long Island and southwestern Connecticut.

[Update 9:52 p.m.] A tornado touched down in Lewes, Delaware, damaging at least 17 homes, the governor said Saturday night.

There were no immediate reports of injuries, Governor Jack Markell told CNN affiliate KYW. He wouldn't have official damage figures until Sunday morning, he said.

[Update 9:42 p.m.] Amtrak said Saturday night it is suspending all service north of Jacksonville, Florida, and east of Toledo, Ohio, and Indianapolis through Sunday because of Hurricane Irene.

[Update 9:27 p.m.] As of 9 p.m. ET Saturday, the storm was centered about 155 miles south of Dover, Delaware, moving northward at 16 mph, according to the National Weather Service.

The storm’s intensity was 80 mph “with the center of the hurricane passing very close to the coasts of Delaware and New Jersey from late tonight into Sunday morning,” according to the weather service.

“The storm will bring damaging winds … torrential rain with dangerous flooding … and coastal flooding,” the weather service said.

[Update 9:17 p.m.] Philadelphia International Airport will close Saturday at 10:30 p.m. ET and won’t re-open until 4 p.m. Sunday at the earliest, said spokeswoman Victoria Lupica.

The airport had already cancelled all departures because of Hurricane Irene.

[Update 9:03 p.m.] Newark, New Jersey, Mayor Corey Booker said he’s been going door to door warning residents to flee the storm.

 “We're strongly encouraging residents to leave,” Booker told CNN Saturday night. “I benefited a lot from the surprise factor as the mayor showing up [at their doors],” he said. "I think they got the point, and hopefully they’ll behave appropriately. Booker said ultimately the city would do what it could to save people in distress due to the storm.

[Update 8:53 p.m.] The lower level of the George Washington Bridge, which connects New York and New Jersey, has been closed, according to the Port Authority.

The upper level of the bridge remains open, the authority said.

[Update 8:43 p.m.] A ninth person has died as a result of Hurricane Irene, officials said.  A man in Chesterfield County, Virginia, died after a tree fell on his home, emergency officials said.

[Update 8:39 p.m.] The National Weather Service has issued a tornado watch for metropolitan New York. A tornado watch indicates that conditions are favorable for a tornado to form, according to the National Weather Service. No tornado has yet developed or been reported.

Tough lessons from 1938's Northeast hurricane reverberate today

[Update 8:35 p.m.] Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority in Boston announces suspension of Sunday services due to Hurricane Irene.

[Update 8:32 p.m.] The Chesapeake Bay Bridge is now closed, the Maryland Transportation Authority said on its website.  The bridge will be off-limits until high winds subside, the agency said.

[Update 8:21 p.m.]  The Maryland Transit Administration said it was halting all subway and bus services at 9 p.m. Saturday - with light rail transport ending three hours earlier. The Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel has been closed until further notice, the state's Emergency Management Agency reported.

[Update 8 p.m.] The National Hurricane Center on Saturday warned residents living in tall structures in the path of Hurricane Irene that the wind hitting upper floors will be stronger than those in most storms.

"As Irene moves through areas with high-rise structures, these structures will experience winds significantly stronger than indicated by the advisory intensity," forecasters said. "Winds at the 30-story level will likely be 20% higher than at the surface. And winds 80-100 stories up could be about 30% higher than the surface."

[Update 7:48 p.m.] President Barack Obama was briefed on the path of the storm Saturday evening in a conference call with senior emergency response officials, including Vice President Joe Biden, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Energy Secretary Steven Chu, FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate and Homeland Security Advisor John Brennan.

Obama was informed of response and recovery preparations by federal officials along the East Coast; he asked to be kept abreast of developments throughout the night.

He called for the group to reconvene Sunday morning.

[Update: 7:24 p.m.] Washington, D.C.'s Metro transit system will continue to run on a regular weekend schedule, the agency said in a press release.

Supervisor motor vehicles will be equipped with chainsaws to assist with downed trees, the agency said.

[Update: 7:09 p.m.] Hurricane Irene is forecast to remain a hurricane as it moves near or over the mid-Atlantic coast and nears New England, the National Hurricane Center said Saturday.

Irene is expected to weaken after landfall in New England and become a post-tropical cyclone Sunday night or early Monday, the center said in its latest advisory.

[Update: 7:04 p.m.] Two additional people have died in car accidents as a result of Hurricane Irene, emergency officials in North Carolina said Saturday, bringing the total death toll from the storm to eight.

[Update: 7:00 p.m.] Hurricane Irene is about to re-emerge over the Atlantic waters, the National Weather Service said in a bulletin.

[Update: 6:46 p.m.] The Maryland Transit Administration is halting all subway and bus services at 9 p.m. Saturday, with light rail transport ending three hours earlier, due to Hurricane Irene, the agency announced on its website.

[Update 6:33 p.m.] Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell told CNN on Saturday evening that a higher than expected 5- to 7-foot storm surge could hit the Hampton Roads area in the coming hours.

"That would be a record (and) that would put water in a lot of places," he said.

Hurricane hunters: Crews fly into storm's eye, for safety's safe

McDonnell said that areas around Norfolk could see waters rise 8 to 9 feet above the norm, adding that rivers and creeks likely will be cresting for several days. "We’re very concerned about storm surge and now that the high winds have come in we’re very concerned about trees," he said.

[Update 6:27 p.m.] Ocean City, Maryland, Mayor Rick Meehan said early Saturday evening that he is pulling police off the streets because of deteriorating conditions.

Emergency calls will be handled on a case-by-case basis, Meehan told CNN.

There is some flooding downtown and more is expected when high tide occurs around 7:30 p.m. Saturday. Forecasters have told Meehan that waves could soar as high as 15 feet, especially when the worst of the storm hits the city between midnight and 3 a.m. Sunday.

[Update 6:23 p.m.] Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter declared a state of emergency for the city Saturday as Irene churned up the East Coast. It's the first state of emergency for Philadelphia since 1986.

[Update 6:10 p.m.] Speaking to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley said, “My biggest concerns are downed power lines and coastal flooding.”

"I think people are treating this storm with the respect that is due,”  O'Malley said. “Given the saturation of the ground and the wind knocking over trees there will be a lot of people without power tonight.”

[Update 6:00 p.m.] As of 5 p.m. ET Saturday, the storm was centered about 230 miles south of Atlantic City, New Jersey, moving northward at 13 mph, according to the National Weather Service.

A flood watch is in effect for much of eastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and northeastern Maryland, the weather service said.

“A tornado watch is in effect for portions of southern New Jersey … Delaware and portions of the Maryland eastern shore and adjacent waters,” the weather service said.

[Update 5:40 p.m.] Six people have died as a result of Hurricane Irene, including a man killed while surfing off the coast of Florida, emergency officials said Saturday.

The 55-year-old New Smyrna Beach resident was surfing off that city's coast until witnesses spotted him face-down in the water, said Capt. Tamara Marris, a spokeswoman for the Volusia County Beach Patrol. Emergency personnel found him to be nonresponsive with a large cut to his head, eventually transferring him to Bert Fish Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead around noon Saturday.

"The surf that we had this morning was a remnant of Hurricane Irene," said Marris.

Also Saturday, a man was killed in Brunswick County, Virginia, after a tree fell on his car, said Eileen Guertler, a spokeswoman for the state's emergency operations center. It was not known if the car he was in was moving at the time of the man's death.

Earlier Saturday, Officer Holly McPherson of the Newport News, Virginia, police department said that a boy died after a tree crashed on an apartment complex in that city.

Three others died earlier in North Carolina, according to officials.

A motorist lost control of his vehicle and struck a tree in Pitt County. A man feeding livestock in Nash County was struck by a tree limb. And a man in Onslow County died of a heart attack as he put plywood over his windows in preparation for the storm, said emergency management spokesman Ernie Seneca.

Northeast prepares: Time to evacuate running out

[Update 5:33 p.m.] Rhode Island’s Newport Emergency Management Team has ordered a mandatory evacuation of all coastal residents by midnight, the agency said in a press release Saturday.

“We strongly encourage all to relocate to safe locations,” the agency said.

[Update 5:14 p.m.] Five people have died as a result of Hurricane Irene, including a man killed in Virginia after a tree fell on his car, emergency officials said Saturday.

The man was killed in Brunswick County, Virginia, said Eileen Guertler, a spokeswoman for the state's emergency operations center. It was not known if the car he was in was moving at the time of the man's death.

Earlier Saturday, Officer Holly McPherson of the Newport News, Virginia, police department said that a boy died after a tree crashed on an apartment complex in that city.

Three others died earlier in North Carolina, according to officials.

A motorist lost control of his vehicle and struck a tree in Pitt County. A man feeding livestock in Nash County was struck by a tree limb. And a man in Onslow County died of a heart attack as he put plywood over his windows in preparation for the storm, said emergency management spokesman Ernie Seneca.

[Update 4:38 p.m.] There will be no incoming or outgoing flights Sunday out of the five New York-area airports - John F. Kennedy, LaGuardia, Newark Liberty, Teterboro and Stewart - operated by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, agency spokesman Steve Coleman said Saturday afternoon.

This means there are "thousands of flights cancelled, with 150 to 200 people a flight," said Coleman, speculating that "probably tens of thousands of people" are affected.

[Update 4:26 p.m.] New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered the deployment Saturday afternoon of an additional 1,000 National Guards in response to Hurricane Irene, according to an announcement from his office.

The deployment means that 1,900 National Guard members have been dispatched so far because of the storm.

[Update 4:03 p.m.] As of 3 p.m. ET Saturday, the storm was centered about 95 miles south of Norfolk, Virginia, moving northward at 13 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center.

[Update 3:57 p.m.] Sentara Norfolk General Hospital in Virginia will ask all visitors to leave at 5 p.m. Saturday and the facility will go on “lockdown” status from that time until noon Sunday, CNN has confirmed.

The hospital said visitors could stay in touch with their loved ones overnight by electronic devices.

Hurricane Irene: State by state updates

[Update 3:42 p.m.] New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said that the area's mass transit system "probably" won't fully reopen until "late in the day Monday," as the city recovers from the impact of Hurricane Irene.

"This is a storm where, if you're in the wrong place at the wrong time, (it) could be fatal," the mayor told reporters Saturday afternoon. "The storm is coming and the few things that are working, the few stores that are still open, we expect them to all close in the very near future.”

“If you haven’t left you should leave now, not later this afternoon, not this evening, but immediately,” Bloomberg said.

[Update 3:24 p.m.] Illinois sent personnel from the  state's Emergency Management Agency and National Guard to New York to assist in storm preparations, according to a press release Saturday from Gov. Pat Quinn's office.

“Hurricane Irene is a serious threat to millions of people along the East Coast, and we’re prepared to provide assistance wherever needed,” Quinn said in the statement.

The deployment from Illinois is in response to a request by New York funneled through the national Emergency Management Assistance Compact. As part of the accord, New York has agreed to reimburse Illinois for expenses.

[Update 3:11 p.m.] Rhode Island’s Interstate Navigation security chief Bill McCombe told CNN that the last passenger ferry left Block Island at 2 p.m. Saturday and won’t resume before Tuesday. McCombe said the island, located 13 miles from Rhode Island, added extra ferries to accommodate passengers wanting to leave before Irene hit.

The ferries will be docked in Connecticut for safe harbor during the storm, McCombe said.

President Barack Obama warned that Irene could be a "hurricane of historic proportions."

[Update 2:37 p.m.] Four people have died as a result of Hurricane Irene, including a boy killed after a tree crashed in Newport News, Virginia, emergency officials said Saturday. Officer Holly McPherson of the Newport News police department said the child went missing after a tree crashed on an apartment complex. Authorities were waiting for cranes to arrive to lift the tree. Three others died earlier in North Carolina, according to officials.

[Update 2:11 p.m.] New York City's subway lines and bus routes are completing their final runs, according to the Metropolitan Transit Authority's special emergency website.

[Update 1:57 p.m.] Three people have died in North Carolina as a result of Hurricane Irene, an emergency management official said. A motorist lost control of his vehicle and struck a tree in Pitt County. A man feeding livestock in Nash County was struck by a tree limb. And, a man in Onslow County died of a heart attack as he put plywood over his windows in preparation for the storm, said emergency management spokesman Ernie Seneca.

[Update 12:27 p.m.] President Obama has arrived at FEMA headquarters in Washington.

[Update 12:19 p.m.] A man feeding livestock in North Carolina was crushed by a tree limb Saturday morning amid Hurricane Irene's high winds, an emergency official in Nash County told CNN. On Friday, a man in the state's Onslow County died of a heart attack on Friday as he put plywood over his windows in preparation for the storm, a state emergency spokesman said.

[Update 11:54 a.m.] "Irene remains a large and dangerous storm," Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said. "People need to take it seriously. People need to be prepared."

[Update 11:36 a.m.] Bill Read, director of the National Hurricane Center, said forecasters don't expect Hurricane Irene to strengthen any more as it rumbles up the East Coast.

[Update 11:01 a.m.] Hurricane Irene is battering eastern North Carolina and tropical storm conditions are spreading northward along the Delmarva coast, the National Hurricane Center said in its latest advisory. The Category 1 hurricane has sustained winds of 85 miles per hour and is moving northeast at 15 miles per hour, according to the 11 a.m. ET advisory. It is 50 miles west of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, and 120 miles south of Norfolk, Virginia. The center of the storm will move across northeastern North Carolina during the afternoon. The hurricane is forecast to move over the Mid-Atlantic coast on Saturday night and over southern New England on Sunday.

[Update 10:46 a.m.] President Obama added Rhode Island to the list of states under a federal emergency declaration.

[Updated 10:34 a.m.] New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Saturday it's "conceivable" in downtown Manhattan there will be no electricity after Hurricane Irene blows through. He said that mass transit, which will be halted at noon on Saturday because of Hurricane Irene, is not likely to be fully back by Monday morning.

[Updated 10:14 a.m.] North Carolina Gov. Bev Perdue said Hurricane Irene "pounded the state all night," but the force isn't as great as originally forecast. She said there are high winds and flooding problems. More than 227,000 homes and businesses have lost power, she said. Irene has affected transportation in the eastern part of the state; 10 major roads have closed and airports have shut down. Perdue also said the eastern counties will see up to 9 inches of rain. "Please stay inside," she said to the people in the storm-affected region of the state.

[Updated 9:36 a.m.] New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg reminded people that mass transit is not going to be available in the city starting at noon. "If you have to leave, you have to start right now," he said.

[Updated 9:33 a.m.] Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Hurricane Irene is now beginning to move up the Atlantic seaboard as expected and "the window of preparation is quickly closing." She urged people in the path of the storm to make sure they have enough supplies for a few days.

[Updated 9:09 a.m.] Several inches of standing water were covering streets and parking lots in Atlantic Beach, North Carolina, after the worst of the storm had passed over, CNN's John Zarrella reported.

[Updated 9:07 a.m.] President Barack Obama declared a state of emergency in New Hampshire and ordered federal aid to supplement state and local efforts to respond to Hurricane Irene. Earlier, Obama declared emergencies in Virginia, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Massachusetts.

[Updated 8:58 a.m.] North Carolina Gov. Bev Perdue said tourists and many residents have left the hurricane-slammed region of her state, but she said "some hangers-on who want to see the storm" remain.

[Updated 8:42 a.m.] A tornado warning is in effect for Virginia Beach and Chesapeake, Virginia, until 9 a.m.

[Updated 8:16 a.m.] Radar showed heavy rain falling throughout eastern North Carolina at a rate of 5 inches or more per hour. Outflow clouds from the hurricane stretched from southern Maine to northeastern Georgia.

[Updated 8 a.m.] The hurricane reached land five miles northeast of Cape Lookout and 60 miles southwest of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. It had maximum sustained winds of 85 mph and was moving 14 mph.

[Updated 7:51 a.m.] Hurricane Irene has made landfall in eastern North Carolina, the National Hurricane Center says in its latest advisory.

[Updated 7:02 a.m.] President Barack Obama has declared a state of emergency in New Jersey and ordered federal aid to supplement state and local efforts to respond to Hurricane Irene.

[Updated 5:40 a.m.] CNN affiliate WITN says damage from possible tornadoes has been reported in Beaufort and Tyrrell counties in North Carolina.

[Updated 3:32 a.m. Saturday] Irene weakened to a Category 1 hurricane Saturday morning, carrying maximum sustained winds of 90 mph, forecasters said. As of 3 a.m. ET, Irene was about 60 miles south of Cape Lookout, North Carolina, moving north-northeast at 14 mph, the National Hurricane Center in Miami said.

[Updated 3:17 a.m. Saturday]  President Obama declares state of emergency in Connecticut and ordered federal aid to supplement state and local efforts due to Hurricane Irene.

[Updated 2:50 a.m. Saturday]  Hurricane Irene was 85 miles south of Cape Lookout, North Carolina, as of 2 a.m. Saturday, forecasters said.

It carried maximum sustained winds of 100 mph, the National Hurricane Center said.

[Updated 1:05 a.m. Saturday] As of 1 a.m. ET Saturday, Hurricane Irene moved closer to the North Carolina coast and was about 105 miles south of Cape Lookout, North Carolina.

It carried maximum sustained winds of 100 mph and was moving north-northeast at 13 mph, the National Hurricane Center in Miami said.

[Updated 11:00 p.m. Friday] New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said cats and dogs would be welcome at the emergency shelters set up for people fleeing the storm.

“If you have your pet bring them with you. … No one should be staying in their homes in an endangered area because they feel like they can't bring their pets with them," Christie said.

Mark Lavorgna, a mayoral spokesman, confirmed that pets are allowed in the 91 emergency evacuation shelters set up in preparation for Hurricane Irene. But “we strongly, strongly argue against it,” he said. “We urge people to bring their pets to friends or familiy’s houses or shelters outside Zone A, but if people need to bring them they can,” said Lavorgna. “They should come leashed and muzzled.”

[Updated 10:36 p.m. Friday] North Carolina Governor Bev Perdue told CNN's Anderson Cooper that the state was prepared but cautious. "We urge people to just be really aware. It doesn't sound like a huge storm right now - 50 mile-an-hour winds - but we think it's going to stay over our state 10 or 12 hours and that's where the problem becomes," she said.

Perdue then referenced reports of a bowl-shaped part of the low-lying coastline that is especially vulnerable to high waters.

"That bowl that you were talking about earlier full of water, it's going to dump somewhere, and when it dumps there's going to be a surge of water and who knows what'll happen," Perdue said.

Irene targets heavily populated, least prepared urban areas

[Updated 10:23 p.m. Friday] The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island will be closed Saturday through Monday because of Hurricane Irene, according to Jane Ahern, public affairs chief of the Statue of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island.

All units of the Gateway National Recreation Area, Governor’s Island and all National Park sites in Manhattan will be closed to visitors Saturday and Sunday, with a chance of opening Monday depending on storm damage and a safety assessment.

“The safety of our visitors and employees is our top priority at this time,” said National Parks of New York Harbor Commissioner Maria Burkes. “Our park employees are currently working diligently to protect park resources per our Emergency Response Plans.”

[Updated 10:05 p.m. Friday] Russell Honoré, the general famous for his management of the federal government's military response to Hurricane Katrina, told CNN's Piers Morgan Friday night that local authorities were right in calling for mass evacuations in low-lying areas along the Eastern Seaboard.

“I think we have had a cultural shift in government because, working with hurricanes for about the last 10 to 12 years while I was in uniform, local governments and governors were reluctant to make that decision to evacuate because of the impact [of what would happen] if they evacuated people and the storm didn’t come," he said. "But the options of not evacuating people, with the warnings that we have now and the accuracy of prediction, (it) needs to be done,” Honoré said.

[Updated 9:53 p.m. Friday] Maryland's Martin O'Malley was one of several East Coast governors to declare a state of emergency in advance of the storm. Residents of low-lying areas in the state were told to evacuate ahead of what the governor called "a very dangerous and potentially deadly hurricane."

The governor said Friday that "anybody that thinks that this is a normal hurricane and that they can just stick it out is being both selfish, stupid and also diverting essential public safety assets away from the task at hand, which is safeguarding lives and getting people out of the way."

[Updated 9:40 p.m. Friday] The Port Authority has announced the closing of five airports - JFK International, Newark Liberty International, LaGuardia, Teterboro and Stewart International - to all arriving passenger flights, international and domestic, starting at noon Saturday.

soundoff (369 Responses)
  1. Pharmb861

    Hello! bggdgek interesting bggdgek site! I'm really like it! Very, very bggdgek good!

    June 9, 2012 at 6:19 pm | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18

Post a comment


 

CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.