Manhattan sunset 311 R.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz)
Vermont struggled with its worst flooding in 80 years and reconnaissance teams scoured Massachusetts to assess the devastation on Monday after a weakened Hurricane Irene slammed an already soaked New England with torrential rain.
RELATED:New Yorkers come out to inspect aftermath of
IreneGallery: Hurricane Irene batters New York, East
The death toll rose to 24 on Monday, as some 5.5 million homes and
business were still without power from North Carolina to Maine.
Utilities said it could take days to restore electricity in more
accessible areas, or up to weeks in the hardest-hit regions.
"It's going to take time to recover from a storm of
this magnitude," President Barack Obama told reporters. "The effects are
still being felt across much of the country, including in New England
and states like Vermont where there's been an enormous amount of
flooding. ... I'm going to make sure that FEMA (federal emergency
management) and other agencies are doing everything in their power to
help people on the ground."
Spared from Irene's worst fury, New York City went back to work on
Monday despite a partially crippled mass transit system and power
outages that left 100,000 customers in the metropolitan area without
Irene swept through Manhattan on Sunday but reserved the worst of its fury for
towns and suburbs up and down the northeastern United States where driving rain
and flood tides inundated homes and cut power to millions.
Irene forced the closure of New York's mass
transit system, and the cancellation of thousands of flights.
US President Barack Obama warned the region's problems were far
from over, promising federal government help for recovery efforts.
wasn't immediately clear how much Irene would cost but in New Jersey alone the
damage was expected in "the billions of dollars," Governor Chris Christie told
NBC's Meet the Press
. With many thousands of homeowners in the region
suffering flooding there will be many questions over whether insurance policies
offer cover and whether the federal government's flood program can handle the
claims, especially at a time of austerity in Washington and in cash-strapped
For Republican presidential
candidate Michele Bachmann, Hurricane Irene and last week's
earthquake in the eastern United States were a message from God
that Washington needs to change its policies.
Even as Irene was beginning its raking course up the East
Coast over the weekend, killing 24 people and causing
widespread flooding and power outages, Bachmann told senior
citizens in Poinciana, Florida, on Saturday that the hurricane
was an "act of God" that Washington should heed.
"Washington, D.C., you'd think by now they'd get the
message. An earthquake, a hurricane. Are you listening? The
American people have done everything they can, and now it's
time for an act of God and we're getting it," she said, drawing
some laughs from her audience.
Bachmann's spokesman later said her comments were meant as a joke.
"Of course she was saying it in jest," Alice Stewart,
spokeswoman for Bachmann's campaign, told Reuters.