Irene goes easy on Washington area

Hurricane downs trees, cuts power to 500,000

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“You have to err on the side of public safety,” he said. “These were hard decisions but the right decisions.”

The usual flooding that occurs in Annapolis and Alexandria’s Old Town never materialized. Businesses in Old Town, near the Potomac River, were open by Sunday morning.

In Annapolis, shop owners piled sandbags against their doors, anticipating a scene like the one in 2003 when Isabel flooded the downtown with more than 2 feet of water. However, the sandbags remained relatively dry Sunday morning as residents and store owners expressed relief that Irene had spared them.

“God looked after us,” said Sveinn Storm, owner of Storm Brothers Ice Cream Factory, which was left 4 feet under water during Isabel.

Roughly 2.3 million people on the East Coast were evacuated, including 315,000 in Maryland, 200,000 in Virginia and 370,000 in New York.

New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg lifted the evacuation order Sunday but the city’s subway system, which is responsible for shuttling thousands of commuters and tourists, remained closed. New York state and transit officials said Sunday evening that subway service would generally restart, with some closures continuing, at 6 a.m. Monday.

Mr. Obama declared a state of emergency for the District and essentially all of the states hit by the storm, including Maryland and Virginia. The declaration makes federal aid available and authorizes the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate disaster relief efforts.

The storm at its height spanned 500 miles, from the Carolinas to Cape Cod, with wind gusts of 115 mph.

Metrorail and bus service was running Sunday with no major delays. Flights out of the region’s three major airports — Baltimore Washington International Thurgood Marshall, Ronald Reagan Washington National and Washington Dulles International — resumed Sunday, but numerous cancellations were reported.

A spokeswoman for Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority said Dulles and Reagan stayed open throughout the storm but that most major airlines had “wrapped up operations” by midday Saturday. However, Dulles handled flights throughout the night.

Amtrak essentially suspended all East Coast service from Florida to New England. In a statement Sunday night, Amtrak said many routes south of Philadelphia will restart, while many New York-based routes, both to Florida and New England, will not.

In Northern Virginia, residents of the Beverly Hills neighborhood in Alexandria on Sunday were dealing with power outages and tree damage as early as 3:30 a.m.

Tim Oliver, of Quality Tree Care, in Springfield, was orchestrating his crew of tree cutters as they negotiated an 80-foot-tall White Oak tree that had fallen and was caught by a neighboring tree.

“We’ve gotten a whole bunch of calls,” he said. “Most of it is limbs and stuff that are blocking driveways.”

This article is based in part on wire service reports.

© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

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