Hurricane Irene: D.C. area continues cleanup
(ABC7/AP) - Thousands of people in the D.C. area remain without power Monday morning in the wake of Hurricane Irene's path.
Trees are toppled, some roads are flooded and the storm is being blamed for at least three deaths in Virginia and Maryland.
Hurricane Irene was downgraded to a tropical storm Sunday as it hit the New York area and pulled out of the D.C. area. Thousands who were in shelters in Virginia and elsewhere are beginning to make their way back to their homes.
"She was my kind of storm...she pruned the dead branches from our tree and blew down my dog Sterling's rubber squeaky shark from the roof," said Tammy Thomson Forsyth.
See a list of school closures here.
A King William County man killed when a tree fell on him is the fourth confirmed fatality related to Hurricane Irene.
Virginia Department of Emergency Management officials say the man was cutting a tree when another fell on him shortly before 8:30 p.m. Saturday.
Department spokeswoman Maribeth Brewster says all four Virginia deaths are related to falling trees.
Officials in Cecil County and Queen Anne's counties are using water rescue crews to reach motorists and residents stranded by high water.
Cecil County spokeswoman Amy Crabill says boat teams from Allegany and Washington counties arrived Sunday morning. She says heavy rain from Hurricane Irene left many roads impassable throughout the county.
Crabill says the crews are responding to 911 calls for stranded motorists. She says she expects calls from residents as well.
A Queen Anne's County emergency management official says rescue crews used a small boat to reach residents of two flooded homes near Sudlersville and Millington.
He says crews have also had to rescue several motorists who tried to drive through moving water and got stuck.
D.C. Mayor Gray Sunday morning says more than 40 trees down but applauds emergency response overall.
On a national scale, more than 4.5 million homes and businesses along the East Coast lost power, and at least 12 deaths were blamed on the storm. But as day broke Sunday, surprisingly light damage was reported in many places, with little more than downed trees and power lines.
"I think it's a little strong to say we dodged a bullet. However, it certainly could have turned out worse for the Hampton Roads area" in Virginia, said National Weather Service meteorologist Mike Montefusco.
At the same time, officials warned of the possibility of severe flooding over the next few days as runoff from the storm makes its way into creeks and rivers. In some parts of the Northeast, the ground was soggy even before the storm because of an extremely rainy August.
Old Town Alexandria has escaped significant flooding in the wake of Hurricane Irene.
City spokesman Tony Castrilli says Alexandria is dealing only with "nuisance flooding," with little damage to homes or businesses in Old Town. He says the wind direction prevented a major storm surge from the Potomac River like the 9-foot surge that occurred during Tropical Storm Isabel in 2003.
Castrilli says there were no deaths or serious injuries in the city of 150,000 and there are no reports of significant damage to buildings. He says 10 people were displaced when a tree fell on an apartment building, but no one was hurt.
Alexandria remains under a state of emergency. Castrilli says the emergency operations center will be open throughout the day.
Emergency workers and disaster assessment teams are gauging the extent of hurricane damage in Calvert County.
County spokeswoman Danita Boonchaisri said Sunday morning about 35,000 homes lost power, numerous roads are closed and roughly 150 homes were struck by trees. She says the county is dealing with "quite a mess" in Irene's wake.
Boonchaisri says nearly 300 homes within 100 feet of cliffs on the Chesapeake Bay were ordered evacuated Friday, and all but a handful of homeowners heeded that order. The evacuation order remains in effect while officials examine the homes for possible damage.
There have been no reports of deaths or serious injuries in the county. However, at least two horses died during a barn collapse in St. Leonard.
Delaware has lifted the evacuation order for coastal residents and is allowing businesses to reopen as Hurricane Irene leaves the state.
However, Gov. Jack Markell's office says that in some areas, particularly along the Delaware Bay in Kent and Sussex counties, people still won't be able to get home because roads are flooded. There's also debris on the roads from downed trees.
A limited state of emergency remains in effect during the cleanup.
Constellation Energy Nuclear Group says crews are working to get Unit 1 of its Calvert Cliffs facility back up after it automatically went off-line during Hurricane Irene.
Spokesman Mark Sullivan said Sunday morning that a large gust of wind overnight sent a piece of aluminum siding from a nearby building crashing into the main transformer of the facility in Lusby.
He says Unit 2 is operating at full power and the entire complex is safe and stable. He says the event cut the facility's electricity output in half.
Sullivan says an unusual event has been declared. That's the lowest of four emergency classifications by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.