As Irene threatens parts of New England late Sunday evening, most of the Jersey shore area is spared by the storm. Afternoon winds bring down power lines in Somers Point.
ATLANTIC CITY — Hurricane Irene still poses a threat to parts of New England Sunday evening, according to experts.
While most Americans in the path of the Category 1 storm are either cleaning up downed trees or assessing the damage left in the hurricane's wake, several families have been tragically affected.
At least 19 deaths over the past 24 hours, from Florida up to Connecticut, have been blamed on Irene-related incidents, according to national officials.
"People have lost lives, I don't think you can say we dodged a bullet," said Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) head Craig Fugate.
Officials expect the death toll to rise as more incidents are reported, including the most recent one, in Harrisburg, Pa., where a man died while camping with friends after a tree reportedly fell on his tent.
Up to four million customers in affected areas are without electricity, and more power outages were being reported Sunday afternoon.
While the Atlantic City area is being assessed for damage, officials say only minimal damage has been done in the area due to Irene, a major weather event in New Jersey, which carried with it tornado warnings and high chances of flooding.
While NJ Transit will resume moderate service on Monday, it will take time before public transportation returns to normal. As of Sunday evening, there were still downed trees along certain train lines in the state and more of the NJT infrastructure was being assessed for any damage.
Likewise, some affected area restaurants will need to take time to re-stock kitchens, take down any plywood and attend to any damages or downed trees. For those businesses without power, it may be longer before they can re-open.
While hundreds of roads in New Jersey remain closed, there are likely thousands of closures across the state's in Hurricane Irene's path. In New York, and most of New Jersey, tunnels and bridges were re-opened. The mandatory evacuation for Atlantic County was rescinded earlier on Sunday.
N.J. Gov. Chris Christie, who was highly visible and active over the weekend, urging and re-urging residents in evacuation areas to leave right up until Irene was nearly knockin' on their doors, made an appearance on NBC's Today Show and Meet the Press on Sunday.
"I am particularly concerned about downed power lines,” Christie said on the Today show. "There is no, no safe place to be outside right now in New Jersey, between downed power lines, flooding. You need to stay in your home."
Although hundreds of thousands of New Jersey's power customers were still without power as of Sunday evening, most in the Atlantic City region had electricity with little if any disturbances of service experienced during the storm.
For Joe Kelly, of Somers Point, Sunday morning brought with it a sense of relief as no flooding occurred (despite the heavy saturation due to recent rains), no trees fell on his home (where he has lived since 1968), and he hadn't witnessed or heard of much damage in his neighborhood.
"I looked out my window and [my neighbor's] tree was swaying," Kelly said, around 2:30pm on Sunday, just as an Irene-related wind storm hit Somers Point. "And they I heard this 'bang!' and I looked out the window and the tree was down.
"All this in the past 10 minutes. Nothing last night or this morning, but this afternoon!"
Heavy winds did hit down in Somers Point this afternoon, taking down power and cable lines. On Dogwood Avenue near the Garden State Parkway entrance, a live power line was hanging down just over the sidewalk. Fire and police crews were quickly on the scene as many people watched what was going on or assessed their property's damage after the "second storm."
"It just knocked over our plant here," said Kelly, pointing at a terra cotta planter broken into pieces after being knocked down by the winds.
"It could have been a lot worse. We lucked out."
Also Sunday, just about all of Atlantic City's 11 casinos issued statements stating that they would re-open at noon Monday.
This was only the third time in 33 years of legalized gaming in New Jersey that the casinos were shut down.
As soon as all of the damage is assessed in the region, and it may take another day or two in some areas, say officials, there will certainly be reports and estimates about how much money Irene cost the Jersey shore during this usually very busy summer weekend.
And unlike the clamoring for news over the past 48 hours or so, with millions of Americans glued to the Weather Channel or their smart phones as Hurricane Irene Fever gripped the East Coast, with the current state of the economy and the related challenges facing Atlantic City and its casinos, it is not going to be news that anybody wants to hear.
Hurricane Irene Coverage: AC Weekly Live Photo Feed
The storm, which has killed several dozen people in the Caribbean, is expected to be a "storm of historic proportions" for the Mid-Atlantic region, including the New Jersey shore, New York City, Delaware, Pennsylvania and possibly Ohio.
The latest reports indicate that the Isaac is "much weaker than Katrina," but that thousands in Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi have been forced to evacuate as the tropical storm moves in.
ATLANTIC CITY — Tuesday, Aug. 22: When I pulled up to the Pleasantville Library and saw everyone milling around outside the building, I asked if they were having a fire drill. That’s how I heard about the earthquake in Virginia and the tremors felt in our area. By the time I got home, that was the only news on every TV station. I ventured around town and found that even the BBB’s (black beach bums) had stopped laughing when they momentarily felt the sandy ground beneath them moving this way and that. These sunbathing party animals, who meet on Caspian Avenue beach daily during the summer months, keep their beach chairs and towels in their car trunks year-round. Last week, as they sat in their traditional circle catching up on neighborhood news and gossip and telling jokes, they noticed the young lifeguards bewildered faces as their lifeguard stand threatened to topple — then, the cell phones began ringing. Thursday, Aug. 24: People were still taken aback by the unusual event of earthquake tremors in our area, but no one had time to dwell on Tuesday when Hurricane Irene was dominating the airwaves most of Wednesday and Thursday. I never doubt...
“July and August are the two best months of the year and to lose [last weekend], you can never really get it back. It’s not something that you can recoup. So it’s just gone. And that hurts a lot, but it’s not something we are not going to overcome.”
Late August weekends and Labor Day weekend are when most of the Jersey shore businesses make their profits.
Nothing like this had ever been attempted in this market — or most other markets, I suspect.
March 2010, a construction crane next to my apartment complex broke lose and we were forced to evacuate in a door to door sweep.
At 10am, CNN reported that at least 21 deaths have been caused by the storm.
By the time the southern New Jersey shore region woke up Sunday morning, there was a collective sigh of relief as Hurricane Irene made landfall early in the morning, resulting in much less than flooding and damage — and power outages — than initially anticipated.
See live photo feed, live Atlantic City Web cam and latest updates on Hurricane Irene and the Jersey shore region.
"Shelters are places of last resort," Christie said. "Do not go to a center because it's close to your house and driving to a friends' house would take an hour."
ust after noon on Friday, it was reported that all Atlantic City casinos will shut down Friday, Aug. 26, due to Hurricane Irene and the mandatory evacuations.
AP: "The National Weather Service on Thursday issued a hurricane warning for nearly all the state's 130-mile coast on the Atlantic Ocean, and for areas along the Delaware Bay and River from Cape May nearly to Trenton."
It is a voluntary evacuation, according to reports. However, as experts expect the storm to hit the Jersey shore Saturday night, Christie urges Jersey shore-area residents and visitors not to come to the area this weekend and for those who are here now, to leave, if they can.
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