Monday, August 29, 2011

Flooding Devastates Vermont and Catskills: Irene Death Toll at Least 35 People

At NYT (via Memeorandum):

CHESTER, Vt. — While most eyes warily watched the shoreline during Hurricane Irene’s grinding ride up the East Coast, it was inland — sometimes hundreds of miles inland — where the most serious damage actually occurred. And the major culprit was not wind, but water.

As blue skies and temperate breezes returned on Monday, a clearer picture of the storm’s devastation emerged, with the gravest consequences stemming from river flooding in Vermont and upstate New York.

Here in southern Vermont, normally picturesque towns and villages were digging out from thick mud and piles of debris that Sunday’s floodwaters left behind. With roughly 250 roads and several bridges closed off, many residents remained stranded in their neighborhoods; others could not get to grocery stores, hospitals or work. It was unclear how many people had been displaced, though the Red Cross said more than 300 had stayed in its shelters on Sunday, and it expected the number to grow.

In upstate New York, houses were swept from their foundations, and a woman drowned on Sunday when an overflowing creek submerged the cottage where she was vacationing. Flash floods continued to be a concern into Monday afternoon. In the Catskills, where Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo led a helicopter tour of suffering towns, cars were submerged, crops ruined and roads washed out. In tiny, hard-hit Prattsville, what looked like a jumble of homes lay across a roadway, as if they had been tossed like Lego pieces.

“We were very lucky in the city, not quite as lucky on Long Island, but we were lucky on Long Island,” Mr. Cuomo said. “But Catskills, mid-Hudson, this is a different story and we paid a terrible price here, and many of these communities are communities that could least afford to pay this kind of price. So the state has its hands full.”
And see also LAT, "Irene death toll rises to 35 amid cleanup effort."

Look, this was a devastating storm for many people, and thus I was irked this morning to see some media reports suggesting that Irene was "hyped." William Jacobson, who rode it out, was not pleased: "Irene wasn’t overhyped in train- and drive-through country."

RELATED: Dan Drezner blogged the hurricane, a little more seriously this time, compared to 2005, when he dissed Katrina coverage as "hurricane porn." That's around the time I stopped reading Drezner on a daily basis. See: "We interrupt normal blogging about the rest of the world to freak out about THE BIG STORM!!!!" Idiot.