Hurricane Irene continued its northward journey as night fell on the East Coast, with residents along the coasts of Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New York, parts of New England and even Canada anxiously awaiting the deluge.
After coming ashore near Cape Lookout, N.C., early Saturday, the Category 1 hurricane was 50 miles south of Norfolk, Va., by 5 p.m. and moving north at 13 miles per hour, CNN reports. It had maximum winds of 80 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center.
By early evening, Irene had caused power outages in nearly 1 million homes and businesses from South Carolina to Virginia, and convinced Exelon Corp. to shut its Oyster Creek nuclear plant in New Jersey, Bloomberg Businessweek reports. According to Bloomberg Businessweek:
Consolidated Edison said it will decide between 2 a.m. and 10 a.m. tomorrow whether to cut power to a swath of Lower Manhattan because of possible flooding from the torrential rains expected from the storm.
Power may be cut from south of the Brooklyn Bridge, to Broadway, said John Miksad, the company’s senior vice president of electric operations.
Nuclear reactors near the coast in New Jersey and Connecticut began powering down as a precaution, David McIntyre, a spokesman for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission said. Reducing power will allow the plants to shut down faster and more efficiently if it becomes necessary.
In Virginia, where more than 500,000 homes and businesses were without electricity as of 4:30 p.m., officials warned that the power could be off for a week, CNN reports.
Public transportation also ground to a halt in anticipation of the coming hurricane.
By early evening, airlines had canceled more than 8,300 flights through Monday, with the number was expected to rise, CBS reports. New York City airports shut for arrivals at noon on Saturday and planned to close for departures by 10 p.m., and Philadelphia's airport closed at 6 p.m.
In New York, which had ordered the evacuation of 370,00 residents of neighborhoods likely to flood, officials shut down the entire public transportation system — subways, buses and commuter rail lines — for the first time in history at noon on Saturday. Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said mass transit was “unlikely to be back” in service on Monday, the New York Times reports.
Baltimore shut down its commuter rail system at 6 p.m., and planned to stop its subway and bus system by 9 p.m., according to the New York Times. Its service was expected to resume by Sunday morning.
Help was standing by, however. Red Cross President Gail McGovern told CNN that more than two-thirds of the nonprofit's emergency response vehicles had sent to the East Coast. "We're now in the middle of what could be one of the largest responses that the Red Cross operations has had in recent memory," she said.