East Coast Flood Worries Rise in Irene's Wake

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WASHINGTON - A cruel end to Irene: the worst part actually came after the hurricane was gone.

Its heavy rains filled waterways too full to contain anymore moisture. Flooding roared out of the riverbanks in various parts of the East Coast.

"Never…never seen anything like it," one Elmsford, N.Y., man said after being rescued.

Hurricane Irene has led to at least 26 deaths in eight states as of Sunday evening.

But the water rising is far from over. In fact, in the already saturated Northeast, concerns over rising floodwaters could persist for days.

That has authorities warning weary citizens not to let their guard down yet. Many may have wanted to after it turned out Hurricane Irene's immediate punch wasn't near as bad in most places as expected.

North Carolina was pounded with rain, but it's Outer Banks did not suffer serious destruction.

The Hampton Roads area of Virginia did see some neighborhoods flooded and homes destroyed.

But it was a harder hit for Maryland, and especially Delaware, which was deluged with some 16 inches of rain. Some homes in the state were torn apart by tornadoes.

Meanwhile, the big story is the flooding that's taking place in states like Connecticut, with a lot of the water coming in from the ocean.

"Our stairs are floating, cement stairs are floating in the water," one woman said. "And you could see waves crashing into people's windows and their curtains coming out."

Most of the water, however, is coming from rain. The precipitation has turned the creeks, streams, and rivers of many states into rushing torrents. Rains have flooded towns and communities all over the Northeast.

"I think it's one of the craziest things I've seen for living in Greenfield for my whole life," one Massachusetts woman said.

The volatile waters have put many people in danger, leading to dramatic rescues.

"We didn't realize the current was as strong as it was. Basically as we were coming up, we realized, wow, it's getting really strong," one New Jersey man said.

Hours after the eye of Irene passed by, bridges like one on the Chesapeake Bay were still closed.

But most of the dangers from a hurricane actually occur after it's gone: floodwaters, surges, downed power lines that are still active, trees that still come down. 

So the unfortunate truth is deadly Irene, though now gone, may still claim more lives even after it's passed by.

Estimates for damages from Irene run anywhere from seven to $20 billion, but that could well rise as floodwaters continue to ravage several states in the days ahead.

CBN News Sr. Reporter George Thomas' spoke with some of the residents of North Carolina's Outer Banks, Saturday afternoon, about how they were weathering Irene.

Around midday Saturday CBN News braved shoreline of the Outer Banks to get a firsthand and look Irene as it lashed the coast of Kitty Hawk, N.C.

Despite orders to evacuate, several of North Carolina's Outer Banks residents decided Friday they were going to ride out the storm. Watch CBN News' report below. 

Virginia Beach, Va. experiencd 80 mph winds as the very wide eye of Irene movdc along the coast of Old Dominion. Watch footage of the storm's waves sent by CBN News Tech David Moore.


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Paul  Strand

Paul Strand

CBN News Washington Sr. Correspondent

As senior correspondent in CBN's Washington, D.C., bureau, Paul Strand has covered a variety of political and social issues, with an emphasis on defense, justice, and Congress.  Follow Paul on Twitter @PaulStrandCBN and "like" him at Facebook.com/PaulStrandCBN.