CNN on the ground: Water spills into N.Y.; N.C. resident has 'never seen it this bad'
Floodwaters surrounds a home as storm surge from Irene hits Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina.
August 28th, 2011
07:14 PM ET

CNN on the ground: Water spills into N.Y.; N.C. resident has 'never seen it this bad'

Editor's Note: CNN has reporters up and down the East Coast to cover Hurricane Irene. We'll be providing updates throughout the day on the scenes they are coming across and the people they talk to.

[Updated 7:14 p.m. Sunday]

(Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina) What a difference a day makes.

CNN's David Mattingly reported Saturday from Kitty Hawk, North Carolina,a couple miles northeast of Kill Devil Hills.

Yesterday, sand and rain were blowing so hard on the Outer Banks of North Carolina that it made my skin burn. Today, I run a big risk of a SUN burn.

I've always seen this as an irony of nature - the day after a hurricane is almost always beautiful, with clear skies and gentle breezes. It is a sharp contrast to the damage that has been left behind and the daunting tasks of clean-up and repair.

-CNN's David Mattingly

[Updated 5:29 p.m. Sunday]

(Avon, North Carolina) The following pictures, which I took while aboard a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter this morning with Rear Admiral William Lee, show flooding and road damage along the Outer Banks of North Carolina - including breaks in state Highway 12, which has stranded people on Hatteras Island.

The storm broke parts of North Carolina's Highway 12 on Hatteras Island, photos taken Sunday morning show.

The breaks, north of Rodanthe, have effectively cut off Hatteras Island from the mainland, Lee told CNN on Sunday. About 2,500 people were stranded Sunday on Hatteras Island, Dare County officials said.

About 2,500 people were stranded Sunday on North Carolina's Hatteras Island because of breaks in Highway 12, Dare County officials said.

An emergency ferry Monday will provide assistance to people on the island, who chose to ride out the storm there despite mandatory evacuation orders, officials said.

We were in the helicopter for five hours, departing Charlotte, North Carolina, at 6:30 a.m. We traveled along the coast from the Outer Banks to Port Smith, Virginia. The most serious damage was in the Outer Banks, including Hatteras Island, and in and around North Carolina's Dare County.

-CNN producer Brian Rokus and The CNN Wire

[Updated 4:33 p.m. Sunday]

(Washington) As the last bands of Hurricane Irene passed over Washington on Sunday, residents re-emerged on the streets, ready to return to their daily lives.

The Dupont Circle farmers market in Washington was open Sunday.

Farmers markets in Georgetown, Eastern Market and Dupont Circle opened as planned with a few less vendors. Standing among her farm-ripe peaches, apples and nectarines, Emily Zaas said she knew on Saturday night that she would be selling on Sunday in Dupont Circle.

“Today we have white peaches, white nectarines… three kinds of sweet plums and six kinds of apples and not bringing them is just not an option,” said Zaas.

And there were plenty of people buying. Through light showers, Chloe Holderness and her family perused the brightly colored produce. Holderness’ said her daughter was “antsy” and wanted to be outside, rain or shine.

“We were excited to have the sun come out and to see that the farmers market was open so that we could get our 2-year-old out of the house,” said Holderness.

Not all Washingtonians were spared. The storm left 31,000 customers without power at some point since it hit, and downed trees could be found everywhere from the National Sculpture Garden to the National Cathedral. Early Sunday morning, President Barack Obama responded to officials and signed a declaration of disaster for the district.

But to the many people out and about on Sunday morning, the storm’s bark was worse than its bite in the district.

“It was a bit of a let down,” said Samantha Kaplan. “It would have been exciting.”

Flooding was a major concern for the district. Taking no chances, the Washington Harbour Shopping Plaza put up 15-foot steel walls in order to protect restaurants and stores that sit on the Potomac.

As a light breeze blew on Sunday morning, tourists gazed at the imposing walls while locals ran past. The Potomac never breached its banks.

At the Maine Avenue Fish Market, vendor stands resemble houseboats and sit in the Potomac, tied to a concrete dock.

Leaving on Saturday, Paul Harrison, manager of Jesse Taylor Seafood, put extra lines on his barge, hoping that the flooding wouldn't live up to the predictions.

Sunday brought good news for Harrison. Fresh scallops and blue crabs sat on ice as they do every Sunday, lobsters crawled on top of each other in the markets tank. The parking lot was full of customers.

“We prepared for the worst, but we made out really well,” said Harrison with a smile.

-CNN's Dan Mercia

[Updated 3:55 p.m. Sunday]

(Battery Park City, lower Manhattan, New York) We drove down to Battery Park City at 2 p.m., past fallen branches and people emerging into the sunlight that peeked out briefly as the worst of the storm passed.

When we got there, tourists had emerged in full force, and the first boats were plying the Hudson River. Birds were gliding peacefully in the wind. Every now and then a strong gust came, but basically it felt like the threat of Irene is over in New York City.

There is a lot to be relieved about. There is water in the basements of homes along the river, but not the destruction that a deeper flood would have caused. The taped windows didn't shatter. So far, there are no reports of deaths in the city, though many rescues. People are already starting to talk about whether they overreacted by evacuating, but nothing really awful seems to have happened even as a large, unpredictable storm blew through the homes of millions of people.

New Yorkers pride themselves on being tough, but on this occasion they showed their smarts as well. There were sandbags and boarded windows, and people seemed to have heeded orders to leave. Delicatessens stayed open in a lot of places because the workers just couldn't get home. And cab drivers disappeared for the worst of it but quickly resumed business once the wind died down.

Ground zero is just a few blocks north of here, and people were telling me not one of the memorial trees had fallen, and that the footprints of the old twin towers had not taken in the flood of water that was predicted. Battery Park City, a complex of residential and office buildings erected on landfill, remains empty, but city officials said people can start coming home this afternoon. There is still no bus or subway service, and some highways in and out of the city are closed. This is not a normal weekend just yet.

-CNN anchor Soledad O'Brien and CNN producer Rose Arce

[Updated 2:15 p.m. Sunday]

(Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey) A small area of the town is closed off to cars because of some flooded intersections and downed power lines, but the rest of the town seems to have weathered the storm quite well. There are broken tree limbs in the roads, but most roads are easily passable.

People taking pictures on the beach in Point Pleasant Beach, NJ

People are out on the beach taking photos of the still larger than normal waves.

-From CNN photojournalist Aaron Brodie

[Updated 1:10 p.m. Sunday]

(Aboard The USS Wasp) This morning 10 of the 12 helicopters that the USS Wasp left Norfolk were moved from a protective hanger bay under the flight deck up to the flight deck where they'll be readied to start flying missions once the Department of Defense is, if ever, ordered to assist in hurricane response  (the other two were chained down on the flight deck when the hurricane was at it's closest because there was no room in the hanger bay).

At this minute for the first time since the storm came ashore the ship is launching a helicopter... it's a MH-53 a huge cargo helicopter that will be ferrying supplies between some of the other ships that left Norfolk as the storm approached.

Out here the weather is beautiful, sunny, warm, breezy and only a medium swell in the waves.

While the helicopters are running some preliminary ship-to-ship missions, below decks 350 sailors who are part of the Wasp's disaster response contingent are brushing up on skills they'll need if they are sent to shore.. like emergency communications, road clearing etc.

- CNN Pentagon Producer Larry Shaughnessy

[Updated 9:55 a.m. Sunday]

(West Village, New York) We watched water pour over the banks of the Hudson River on Manhattan’s west side at this morning - just hours after we had woken up at Rose’s house a block away in the Meat Packing District. The water was closing in.

Her building, like many in the west part of Greenwich Village, was built over 100 years ago along the river. Landfill made it possible to keep building and extend the waterfront far enough to build luxury high rises. Now the Hudson seemed to be trying to regain ground.

CNN's Soledad O'Brien stands in ankle-deep-water as the Hudson River moves into property in New York City's West Village.

When we walked out at 6 a.m., the basement of Rose’s apartment was dry and the superintendent was laying down hoses and pumps in anticipation of the storm. Not 15 minutes later, water poured in. By 7 a.m., water was overwhelming his pump and the man was bailing frantically as the basement filled. Outside, water filled the West Side Highway a block away and parked cars were drowning.

The winds didn’t seem strong for a hurricane and the sky was fluorescent white as I did live shots at 8 and 9. But I stood in water as it poured over my boots, signaling the real threat to this community and the others along the waterfront. It’s been raining, slowly then furiously then slowly again, since last night and there is more rain on the way.

People are walking dogs and getting coffee at the corner deli when they are not being yelled at by the police to go back inside. The storm seems harmless until you begin to consider the prospect of several feet of water inside your home. Mostly, folks seem to have left this neighborhood which is in Zone B – at risk of severe flooding but with no mandatory evacuation order. Zone A is within sight and it became a shallow river by 8 a.m.

Normally, the Meat Packing district has meat trucks driving by fashion models, carcasses of beef and pork are loaded right alongside hip bars and restaurants. The streets, even at this hour, would be full of trendy New Yorkers coming in and out of clubs or vamping for fashion shoots and movie cameras. Today there are sandbags and taped windows and water is overwhelming the sewers and running beneath glass doorways into the storefronts of Scoop and Jeffrey and other high fashion ships.

We are wading into the waters for more live shots as the morning rolls on and the water continues to be a quiet threat.

When we began our 10 a.m. live shots the water took a sudden turn, receding back toward the Hudson mericifully. People emerged with camera, relief and smiles at the news that this destructive hurricane had become a tropical storm.

 -CNN anchor Soledad O'Brien, with CNN producer Rose Arce

[Updated 9:28 a.m. Sunday]

(Brooklyn, New York) Strong wind gusts started lashing Brooklyn, New York around 4:30 in the morning. As I drove around the borough around 8 a.m. I saw many downed tree branches and some localized flooding.

The Gowanus Canal spilled over its bulkhead in a few spots. The Belt Parkway, a highway that wraps around Brooklyn, was closed near the Verrazano Bridge because ocean waves were washing across all six lanes. It was closed again near an inlet called Sheepshead Bay.

Fishing boats in the bay were bobbing up and down as water spilled out onto the streets of the surrounding neighborhoods. They include Manhattan Beach which was evacuated last night.

Many residents placed sand bags in front of their doors and garages and plywood on the windows before they left. Wind gusts are approaching 60 mph here.

Brooklyn residents covered windows with plywood and placed sand bags in front of doors and garages before leaving.

Fortunately, they're not blowing constantly at that speed and we get brief respites in the wind. Hurricane Irene is dumping an immense amount of rain on the city. At times it's blowing sideways.

When I woke up this morning there was water on the floor of our bedroom. It blew in through the air conditioner.

- CNN Radio's Steve Kastenbaum

[Updated 4:24 a.m. Sunday]

(Ocean City, Maryland) The storm isn't over yet, but it appears that thus far that Ocean City has not sustained major damage.

At this point, there is some standing water on the far southern reaches of the island, but not the flooding that officials had feared.

Sand has drifted over the boardwalk and a parking lot, but there is not a lot of debris on the streets.

A National Guard vehicle on the boardwalk, which is now covered in sand from Hurricane Irene.

Irene ripped the facade off at least one store on the boardwalk, but many others appeared to have escaped major damage.

Although some sections of the city lost power, in much of the city electricity has been unaffected.

Officials have said they do not want residents and business owners to return to the city until they complete an assessment of the damage after daylight and conditions allow.

- CNN's Jeanne Meserve

[Updated 3:26 a.m. Sunday]

(Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina) More than 30 straight hours of rain, almost as many hours of tropical storm force winds and now the electricity at our hotel finally goes out. Irene will not relent in its destruction on North Carolina's Outer Banks. The storm continues to cause problems here even as it menaces millions to the north. I've never seen a storm last this long.

- CNN's David Mattingly

[Updated 6:43 p.m. Saturday]

(Nags Head, North Carolina) The whipping wind from the tail end of hurricane Irene pushed water from the Albemarle Sound inland over the Outer Banks in North Carolina.

Water was lapping and at times overtopping Highway 158, the main road through Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills and Nags Head.

Pontoon boats, wave runners, and a jet boat from a boat rental company broke free and littered a small stretch of the road in Nags Head.

The boat business owner stood along the edge of the flood waters just watching, not able to secure his boats.

"I hope they don't float onto the road," he said. "I've never seen it this bad."

Helpless tonight, he will return tomorrow for what he said will more than likely be a "salvage operation" courtesy of hurricane Irene.

- CNN Senior Producer John Murgatroyd

[Updated 6:43 p.m. Saturday]

(Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina) Getting hit in Kill Devil Hills by our strongest winds yet. A portion of the exterior wall just blew off our hotel, showering the grounds with siding and insulation.

- CNN's David Mattingly

[Updated 4:53 p.m. Saturday]

(Atlantic City, New Jersey) What started out as a light rain along the Atlantic City boardwalk suddenly turned into a wind-driven downpour late this afternoon as more rain bands from Hurricane Irene make there way towards the New Jersey coast.

Weather deteriorates at the beach in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Downtown is a ghost town, the beaches are empty and the boardwalk is quiet except for the sound of gusting wind. The waves that crash ashore continue to come higher up the sand shelf where we're located, eroding away large chunks of the beach.

Everything is closed, but we hear there's a good buffet going at one of the casinos.

– Journalist Aaron Brodie

[Updated 2:17 p.m. Saturday]

(On the road in New Jersey) I had a nice motel all to myself on Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey, before my CNN bosses told me they needed me to go to Atlantic City.

 The southbound Garden State Parkway is closed, but I managed to sweet-talk my way past a cop at a roadblock and it's been smooth sailing from there. Never in my life have I driven on a freeway this big and been the only one on it. I haven't passed another car or even seen another car for about 25 miles.

The southbound Garden State Parkway is wide open for journalist Aaron Brodie.

There was a military Humvee parked sideways across the highway with two soldiers standing by it. They got in and drove my way for about three miles before stopping to park sideways again.

Apparently I'm the only fool crazy enough to head to Atlantic City. It's kind of eerie, but at least the tolls are free today.

- Journalist Aaron Brodie

[Updated 1:03 p.m. Saturday]

(Long Beach, New York) It's the last thing first-time homeowners David Pace and Denise Schieren expected to be doing to their new house.

"We don't know what we are doing, but we're doing the best we can," Pace said while struggling to fasten plywood over his windows. The Long Beach, New York, residents just moved into their home on Long Island and have never seen a hurricane before.

"(We're) trying to protect the house the best we can. We just moved in, so we don't want all our hard work to get wrecked," Schieren said.

The young couple said they moved all their furniture up to top floor. They plan to stay with family as the storm passes through.

- CNN's Eric Fiegel

[Updated 11:14 a.m. Saturday]

(Atlantic Beach, North Carolina) The winds from Irene have changed direction as it continues to move over Atlantic Beach. This has created a reverse storm surge. Instead of the Atlantic Ocean being pushed inland, the Bogue Sound is now beginning to flood the area. The water is on the rise in some residential areas that were built on the north side of the island. After a brief period of calm, strong gusts of winds mixed with light rain have continued. Some areas of Fort Macon Road, the main street in this town, are impassable.

- CNN's Kim Segal

[Updated 9:45 a.m. Saturday]

(Atlantic Beach, North Carolina) The sun has come up on Atlantic Beach, North Carolina. A quick trip around and it appears that most of the damage is from rain and storm surge. Roads are flooded and the beach is littered with debris. Some of the debris appears to have come from the end of the pier that broke apart in during the height of the storm. The power is out and a curfew remains in effect for those who rode out the storm on this barrier island.

- CNN's Kim Segal

[Updated 7:30 a.m. Saturday]

(WASHINGTON) The sun is peeking through on the National Mall in Washington. The city will resume passing out sandbags at noon. Yesterday they ran out of sandbags at 5 p.m. City residents can get five sandbags per household. For this storm, city officials are using Twitter to keep in touch with residents in addition to traditional media. Officials are using the hashtag #DCIrene on the microblogging site to get information out.

- CNN'S Eric Marrapodi

soundoff (106 Responses)
  1. banasy©


    You're welcome, my friend.
    Stay thirsty.

    August 28, 2011 at 6:27 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Chris Whitman

    That guy didn't even fall over. I was expecting him to get blown into that river behind him or something, c'mon CNN

    August 28, 2011 at 7:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris Whitman

      @ Wind burst almost knocks reporter down video

      August 28, 2011 at 7:18 pm | Report abuse |
  3. CNN

    Look at all that salt water drenching everything!.. That's gonna rust some bridges, Cadillacs, and light poles for sure. This is gonna be expensive to clean up.

    August 28, 2011 at 7:33 pm | Report abuse |

      wrong... light poles are aluminum... i would know.. when i'm short on money we knock em over and go recycle them..

      August 29, 2011 at 8:26 am | Report abuse |
  4. Jeff Frank ( R - Ohio )

    Last time anyone fantisized about Irene, she wasn't going around blowing everyone.

    August 28, 2011 at 10:37 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Jazzzzzzzz

    Omg, Jeff... must you be so vulgar !

    August 28, 2011 at 10:49 pm | Report abuse |
  6. chrissy

    hey jazzz is your cell service working? my daughter lives in middletown area and her service is not. i hate not being able to reach her. and hello all my blog buds! hope you all are well.

    August 29, 2011 at 11:25 pm | Report abuse |
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