US counts cost in deaths and destruction after Irene
as commuters trickled into a mostly unscathed New York City yesterday in the wake of Hurricane Irene, raging rivers continued to cause record flooding all across the north-eastern United States and electricity companies struggled to restore power to five million darkened homes and businesses.
Wall Street was open yesterday and the US Open Tennis Tournament began in Queens as planned.
The hurricane's legacy was nonetheless one of misery for many. At least 21 people died in the US before it crossed into eastern Canada. One man in a suburb north of New York City died trying to help a father and son entangled in live power lines. After being electrocuted himself he fell into a puddle of water that was also live, preventing horrified onlookers from pulling him away.
Some of the heaviest rainfall was in the Catskill region of New York and in Vermont.
Counting the financial toll of Irene will take time, but Kinetic Analysis, a consulting firm, tentatively put it at up to $7bn (€4.8bn) nationally, with insured losses of between $3bn and $4bn.
Some of the high price tag arose from measures ordered ahead of the storm that turned out not to have been necessary. In New York, Mayor Michael Bloomberg at one point ordered 370,000 residents to evacuate from low-lying areas.
"I would make the same decisions again without hesitation," the mayor said when pressed to defend his actions.