'Weakening' Irene Floods Manhattan, Death Toll Climbs

World | August 28, 2011, Sunday // 17:23| Views: | Comments: 0
Bulgaria: 'Weakening' Irene Floods Manhattan, Death Toll Climbs New York City Police Officers walk through Battery Park in New York City, New York, 28 August 2011. EPA/BGNES

Torrential rains and rising river waters have flooded streets in Manhattan as hurricane Irene hit New York City Sunday morning Eastern Time.

Officials said the storm had knocked out power to more than 3 million people and was responsible for at least 11 deaths, up from 9 deaths reported earlier on Sunday, in four states as it pummeled some of the biggest cities in the Northeast.

In lower Manhattan, the Hudson River overflowed, sending massive amounts of water spilling over jogging paths and pouring into at least one nearby apartment building, CNN reported Water also lapped over the banks of New York City's East River early Sunday but later receded.

The flood reports come just as the National Weather Service of the USA downgraded Irene to a tropical storm as the system made landfall over Coney Island in New York. The storm is maintaining winds up to 65 mph, The Washington Post reported.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey closed the north tube of the Holland Tunnel due to flooding, and CNN affiliate WCBS reported serious flooding in Brooklyn.

But in New York City, the flooding's greatest impact may be far from view, former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff told CNN.

"The challenge of New York is that so much of the electricity and other infrastructure is below the surface," he said.

That means flooding could bring life in the city to a standstill even after waters recede, he said.

Outside Philadelphia, waters had already climbed to street-sign levels in Darby, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter said, sending "couches, furniture, all kinds of stuff floating down the street."

Waves pounded the shoreline in Long Beach, New York, as water poured underneath the boardwalk and into the city's downtown area.

A Photo Gallery of Hurricane Irene hitting the US East Coast VIEW HERE

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