Aug. 27, 2011 — -- Hurricane Irene marches north, leaving at least 8 people dead and close to 2 million without power in the states it has already hit. Tonight it bore down on millions more from the Delmarva peninsula to the Jersey Shore and the New York metropolitan area.
The deaths reported so far included victims of car accidents and falling tree limbs. One man suffered a heart attack as he boarded up his house in North Carolina. Many more -- the precise numbers change -- have been injured as a result of high winds and tornadoes that have reportedly touched down in Virginia, North Carolina, West Virginia, New Jersey, and Delaware.
Nearly 10,000 airline flights have been canceled around the country. Philadelphia's airport, among others, completely shut down operations as of 10:30 p.m., and New York's three major airports said they would as well.
Virginia governor Robert McDonnell said the state knew of 152 car crashes and, in some places, more than 16 inches of rainfall. McDonnell said that widespread power outages were expected to remain a problem through the next couple of days, as crews were being pulled off the roads Saturday night because of danger.
Tornadoes were reported in New Jersey, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland and Delaware. For an hour on Saturday night there was a tornado warning for Center City Philadelphia, though there was no indication a tornado had actually touched down. Tornadoes often form during hurricanes, but are hard to spot or track because of all the violent weather around them.
Delaware's Gov. Jack Markell said he believed a tornado tore through 17 homes near Lewes, Del., and off Rehoboth Beach, the National Weather Service reported a waterspout -- essentiallly, a tornado out at sea. There were no reports of major injuries.
In North Carolina, a 15-year-old girl was killed in an auto accident, said Patty McQuillan of North Carolina's emergency management agency.
In Beaufort, N.C., McQuillan said water rose so high in a woman's house that National Guardsmen and local fire fighters were called into rescue her and her three-month-old baby. The state also reported problems with waste water treatment plants, and minor injuries after several reports of tornadoes.
A Maryland woman was killed when a chimney fell on her house. The unnamed woman was not killed instantly and was transported to a hospital where she was later pronounced dead, according to the Maryland Emergency Management Agency.
Hurricane Irene Heads for New York
More than a million residents and visitors of the Jersey Shore have been evacuated, though a stubborn 600 people, many of them senior citizens, remain in high rise buildings on a barrier island in Atlantic City, according to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Even before the core of the hurricane reached the area Sunday, Christie said winds could reach up to 75 mph at the upper floors of some of the buildings.
Christie spoke bluntly about the need for people to get out of the storm's way.
"We're meeting the first requirement, which is to preserve human life and the best way to preserve human life is not to be on the Jersey Shore," Christie said.
For more on how Hurricane Irene is impacting New York and the surrounding tri-state area, go to ABC News affiliate WABC-TV.
New York City expected an almost-direct hit by Irene Sunday. Mayor Mike Bloomberg, having urged 370,000 residents of low-lying areas to move to higher ground, said at a press briefing late Saturday night that it was now too late, and people should stay indoors.
"The time for evacutation is over," he said.
More than 30,000 cots were set up at shelters, though only about 5,500 people had arrived to use them Saturday evening.
"I came from Far Rockaway," said Crystal Pirela, who brought her 10-month-old daughter Anaya to a New York shelter. "It was a mandatory evacuation. It's pretty decent in there. They're organized for the most part. Having a baby in there is a little bit uncomfortable, but it's better to be safe than sorry."
When asked about safety and potential looting in the city, Bloomberg said, "This is New York. We don't have that sort of thing."
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered 2,000 National Guard troops deployed to Long Island, New York City, and the Hudson Valley area to help with the storm. Troops will help staff shelters, control evacuation routes, monitor flood threats at the World Trade Center site and work with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to secure railways and train tunnels.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett said he feared residents were not doing enough to prepare for the expected 6-10 inches of rain that could come with the storm.
"I need to stress that when it stops raining, doesn't mean that it will stop flooding," he said.
Philadelphia's Mayor Michael Nutter said the Schuylkill River was expected to crest at 15 feet on Sunday night -- something that has not happened there since 1869. SEPTA, the area's rapid-transit system, shut down to wait out the storm, and PECO, the local electric company, said at least 139,000 customers were without power as of Saturday evening.
Public transportation in New York City stopped as well, and Mayor Bloomberg said he didn't expect the subways to resume running until sometime on Monday.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has issued a prepare-to-deploy order for 6,500 active duty troops from all the services to support hurricane relief efforts if necessary.
President Obama spoke with government officials about the storm at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) command center.
Obama said that the storm is "going to be touch and go but the federal government is prepared."
"It's going to be a long 72 hours," he said.