Irene goes easy on Washington area

Hurricane downs trees, cuts power to 500,000

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The District received 3 inches of rain, and 33,000 customers were without power. Mayor Vincent C. Gray said at least 13 schools remained without electricity as of Sunday afternoon. Officials later said those schools would not open Monday.

They are Anacostia High School, Beers Elementary, Coolidge High, LaSalle-Backus Educational Center, Orr Elementary, Oyster-Adams Bilingual School (Adams Building), Oyster-Adams Bilingual School (Oyster Building), Savoy Elementary, Stanton Elementary, Thomas Elementary, Turner Elementary at Green, Whittier Educational Center and Winston Educational Center.

Police and emergency crews scrambled in the early aftermath of the storm, clearing roads and directing traffic through 69 malfunctioning traffic lights.

Their efforts were helped by residents who heeded warnings to stay indoors to avoid fallen power lines. Maryland reported as many as 100 road closures, and Montgomery County alone had more than 100 traffic lights out of order.

“It’s been quite a week for the District of Columbia,” Mr. Gray said. “We began with the opening of schools last Monday … and the very next day we had an earthquake. Then, of course, we rolled into the hurricane. There’s a movie in here somewhere.”

In addition, the scheduled dedication ceremony Sunday for the new Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial on the Mall was postponed ahead of the storm.

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell said roughly 1 million utility customers lost power and that four people died in storm-related incidents across the state.

He said Irene resulted in the second-highest number of power outages in state history, compared with roughly 2 million as a result of Hurricane Isabel in 2003.

“Power outages are probably the most significant affect of this storm,” said Mr. McDonnell, a Republican. In Richmond alone, 75 percent of city residents were without power, he added.

As much as a foot of rain fell in the Hampton Roads area.

The storm passed east of Ocean City, Md., at about 2 a.m., damaging the end of the fishing-amusement pier and the light tower at the tip of the inlet. However, resort officials reported no major damage or serious injuries.

Butch Arbin, captain of the Ocean City Beach Patrol, said his lifeguards were trained for helicopter rescues had flooding forced residents onto rooftops and that the state police sent its dive team to the resort.

“But we were spared,” he said. “The dunes were in good shape before the storm, and the town made good decisions.”

By noon Sunday, the mandatory evacuation had been lifted, the sun was shining and surfers were paddling into glassy, head-high waves.

Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan defended his decision to evacuate the resort during the peak tourist season.

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