BATTERY PARK, NEW YORK – Lower Manhattan was almost entirely devoid of people early Sunday morning as the much-anticipated Hurricane Irene battered the city from the south.

Violent winds and heavy rain swept through the empty streets of the Financial District which had been evacuated by order of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg together with other low-lying parts of the city because of the risk of flooding.

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As of late Saturday night, Hurricane Irene was heading north at a rate of 16 mph (25.75 kph) from North Carolina toward Virginia, exhibiting winds between 39 mph (63 kph) and 80 mph  (129 kph), a NBC affiliate station in North Carolina reported.

The National Weather Service canceled flash flood watches in North Carolina counties at 8:19 pm EST, according to the report.




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