Irene Moves On: Rains, Floods Inundate New England

Storm packs powerful punch, leaves millions without power.

ByABC News
August 28, 2011, 5:38 AM

Aug. 28, 2011— -- Severe weather warnings for the East Coast of the Unites States are now over as Hurricane Irene has been downgraded again and is no longer a tropical system.

Irene, still with winds at 50 mph, was downgraded from a hurricane to a tropical storm and spared New York City the devastation many predicted, but it has not been so kind to the towns and cities in its path as it moved inland today.

The force of the storm's winds diminished Sunday, but the torrential rains did not let up, swelling rivers and streams until they burst their banks in upstate New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont.

Downtown Windham, N.Y., was "wiped out" by flooding, with 4 feet of water rushing through Main Street, said Michael Scarey, the town's fire chief.

Torrential rains that started Saturday night dumped more than 10 inches of water on the normally quiet community, forcing evacuations, submerging school buses and garages and shutting off access to the rest of the mountaintop.

West of the town, a house was ripped from its foundation and swallowed by the fast moving creek, which slammed it into a bridge.

There were similar scenes in other river towns in the storm's path today, and it is feared that things will only get worse as rivers peak.

"This is not over," President Barack Obama said late today in a brief address from the Rose Garden.

In Vermont, Brattleboro, Bennington, Montpelier and other towns had flooding from swollen rivers.

Irene did not cause quite the level of destruction many feared as it churned up the East Coast this weekend, but it packed enough punch to leave at least 20 dead, millions without power and an estimated $7 billion to $13 billion in damages.

"We're not out of the woods yet. Irene remains a large and potentially dangerous storm," U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said.

After roaring through coastal North Carolina on Saturday, Irene raked the coasts of Virginia, Maryland, Delaware and New Jersey before hitting New York this morning as a tropical storm with 65 mph winds. By 10 a.m. today, patches of blue sky and sunshine began peeking through in lower Manhattan.

With its heavy rainfall and powerful winds, the storm created flood conditions up and down the East Coast. But Irene appeared to have caused less damage than anticipated in the New York area.