Irene’s Trail of Damage: Deaths, Flooding, Losses of Power State-by-State

Hurricane Irene killed at least 40 people as it moved from the Caribbean through New England, left an estimated $2.6 billion in damage and cut power to almost 8 million homes and businesses along the U.S. East Coast.

North Carolina’s $750 million-a-year tobacco crop may have suffered hundreds of millions of dollars in damage, state officials said. An industry trade group said harm to the cotton crop, the fourth-largest in the U.S., may be “extensive.”

About 5.12 million customers in 13 states and the District of Columbia remained in the dark yesterday, according to the U.S. Energy Department, following the weekend storm which led to severe flooding in parts of Vermont, New York and New Jersey. At 3 p.m. yesterday, New York had the most outages of any state, at almost 889,000, according to an agency statement. Restoring power may take more than a week in some areas, utilities said.

Irene’s projected costs for insurers declined because the storm weakened as it worked its way up the East Coast, and companies including Hartford Financial Services Group Inc. (HIG) rallied. Hartford surged almost 13 percent to close at $19.42 a share in New York Stock Exchange composite trading.

Insured losses fell to about $2.6 billion in the U.S., according to Kinetic Analysis Corp., a Silver Spring, Maryland- based disaster-cost forecaster. The company projected almost $14 billion last week as the storm battered the Bahamas off Florida. U.S. officials are still assessing damage and haven’t put a value on it yet, said Craig Fugate, head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

President Barack Obama declared a state of emergency in 13 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. The designation releases federal money and support to respond to damage, according to FEMA’s website. Puerto Rico was the only area declared a “major disaster” by the agency, a step above the emergency level.

The following is a state-by-state assessment:

Connecticut

Shane Seaver, 46, died yesterday after his canoe capsized after he and a friend, Raymond Clyman, 39, were sucked into the swollen Pequabuck River in Bristol, the Hartford Courant said on its website. An unidentified senior citizen died in a house fire caused by a falling tree limb in Prospect, according to Lieutenant P.J. Conway, a fire department spokesman.

Governor Dannel Malloy sought federal aid yesterday, the Wall Street Journal said, citing people familiar with the matter that it didn’t name.

Connecticut Light & Power Co., a Northeast Utilities unit which serves most of the state, reported that 42 percent of its 1.2 million customers were still without electricity at 7:45 p.m. yesterday. About 702,000 lost power in the state because of the storm, the Energy Department said. That surpassed a record set during Hurricane Gloria in 1985.

Estimated insured losses in Connecticut are $80.5 million, while total economic losses, which include uninsured costs, may be $281.7 million, according to Kinetic Analysis.

Delaware

Two men died when they were were apparently washed away in a tributary of Mill Creek while walking through woods at the height of the storm, said Cathy Rossi, a spokeswoman for Governor Jack Markell. She identified the men as Christopher Valentine of Hockessin and Jean Baptista of Clark, New Jersey. Both were 25 years old.

A tornado touched down Aug. 27 near Lewes, at the mouth of the Delaware Bay, Rossi said yesterday in an interview. The twister tore the roof off a house, without injuring anyone, Rossi said.

Estimated insured losses in the state were $103.4 million, while total economic losses may be $258.6 million, Kinetic said.

Across the state, an estimated 13,800 remained in the dark late yesterday, down from 56,900 during the storm, the Energy Department said. A majority of outages was concentrated in New Castle County, Bridget Shelton, a spokeswoman for Delmarva Power, a unit of Pepco Holdings Inc., said by telephone.

District of Columbia

In the nation’s capital, damage was limited to downed trees, strewn debris and power outages that affected about 29,400 customers, the Energy Department and Doxie McCoy, a spokeswoman for Mayor Vincent Gray, said yesterday.

“There were not many injuries, a few fires,” McCoy said. “We had a shelter open that eight people used.”

Florida

Two men perished in rough surf tied to Irene, which didn’t strike the state directly, said William Booher, an Emergency Management Division spokesman. The Associated Press said one victim was a 55-year-old surfer, the other was a tourist from New Jersey.

Maine

More than 204,000 customers remained without power yesterday, down from 275,000 at the height of the storm, the Portland Press-Herald said on its website. More than 110 roads were closed Aug. 28 by flooding, including washed-out bridges, the newspaper said.

Maryland

A woman died in Queen Anne’s County on the Eastern Shore after a tree fell on a house, collapsing the chimney, said Quentin Banks, a state emergency management agency spokesman. AP identified the victim as Anne Bell, 85.

At least 822,000 people were without power, Banks said by telephone. By yesterday afternoon, the Energy Department listed outages at about 441,600 in the state.

Estimated insured losses in Maryland are $65.9 million, while total economic losses may be $151.5 million, Kinetic said.

Governor Martin O’Malley said St. Mary’s County on the western side of Chesapeake Bay was hard hit by downed trees and power lines, and about 200 roads were closed. There was little damage in Ocean City, a vacation spot along the Atlantic Coast, where tens of thousands were evacuated before the storm.

Massachusetts

Touching an aluminum railing outside his home apparently killed Richard Gorgone, 52, of Southbridge in Worcester County, because a downed power line had electrified the metal, according to AP. The high-tension line had been hit by a falling tree.

About 535,600 electric-utility customers remained blacked out late yesterday, the Energy Department said, down from 567,000 at the peak of the storm. Boston-based NSTAR said it was working to restore service to 200,000 of those. Power on the island of Martha’s Vineyard was completely cut at one point, said Scott McLeod, a Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency spokesman.

Boston’s public transit services reopened yesterday after being shut for most of the day Aug. 28. Service returned to normal at Logan International Airport.

New Hampshire

About 106,900 people still were without power yesterday, the Energy Department said. The New Hampshire Union Leader said as many as 160,000 lost service during the storm. More than 250 roads were closed at some point because of the storm, the newspaper said on its website.

Plymouth State University in the White Mountains area was flooded when the Pemigewasset River overflowed its banks, WBZ Radio in Boston said on its website.

New Jersey

At least six people died including Celena Sylvestri, 20, of Quinton, who was found dead in her submerged car in floodwaters in Pilesgrove, 35 miles (56 kilometers) southeast of Philadelphia, said Sergeant Brian Polite, a spokesman for the state police.

Ronald Dawkins, 47, drowned after abandoning his swamped vehicle, AP said. Police recovered the body of Jorge Hernandez, 25, of Point Pleasant Beach from the Atlantic Ocean in Manasquan, AP said. Michael Kenwood, an emergency-services worker in Princeton, died Aug. 28 of injuries after being knocked over by floodwaters, AP said.

Another man, Scott Palecek, 39, was walking in Wanaque when a pipe broke loose and swept him away in floodwaters Aug. 28, AP said. An unidentified body was recovered at Point Pleasant Beach later yesterday, AP said.

Governor Chris Christie has asked the for expedited federal aid late yesterday, the Wall Street Journal said, citing a radio broadcast featuring the governor.

All 11 Atlantic City casinos reopened yesterday, and Christie asked all state workers to be on the job. New Jersey Transit said most rail service would resume today. Weekend closings cost the gambling venues at least $40 million in revenue, according to the Press of Atlantic City, citing Tony Rodio, chief executive officer of Tropicana Casinos & Resort.

About 615,900 electric customers still were without power yesterday, the Energy Department said, down from almost 811,000. An estimated 15,000 people were in 45 shelters, Rick Fuentes, superintendent of the state police, said in news briefing.

Estimated insured losses in the state are $751.4 million, while total economic losses may be $2.1 billion, Kinetic said.

New York

At least eight people died in storm-related incidents, AP reported. Rozalia Gluck, 82, of Brooklyn, drowned in a cottage in the Catskills community of Fleischmanns that was swamped by floodwaters.

A man was killed in Spring Valley when he went to the aid of a child who had entered a flooded street with downed wires, the AP said.

Sharon Stein, 68, drowned in a creek in New Scotland on Aug. 28, AP said.

In Long Island’s Suffolk County, Joseph Rocco, 68, of East Islip drowned while windsurfing in Bellport Bay. Another man died after his inflatable boat capsized on the Croton River, AP said.

Jose Sierra, 68, of the Bronx, was pulled out of the water at a marina Aug. 28. He accidentally drowned, AP said.

Mikita Fox, 23, and Danine Swamp died in a river in Altona after their vehicle fell into the water while they were driving across a bridge, AP said.

Severe flooding still affected much of the state yesterday, said Dennis Michalski, spokesman for the Homeland Security and Emergency Services Division. At least 191 people were rescued from flood-ravaged areas, AP said.

“The water is still rising in many places,” Michalski said by telephone yesterday. “We’re not going to be doing damage assessments until we get everybody out of harm’s way. This is massive.”

Governor Andrew Cuomo may make a formal request for federal aid as soon as today, the Wall Street Journal said yesterday, citing people familiar with the matter that it didn’t name.

About 888,600 customers still lacked electric service yesterday, the Energy Department said. Aides to Cuomo estimated more than 1 million were in the dark at some point yesterday, including several Long Island hospitals.

Irene, which made landfall near Coney Island in New York City, caused estimated insured losses of $471.8 million in the state, while total economic losses may be $2.03 billion, according to Kinetic.

North Carolina

At least six people died including one man who suffered a heart attack putting up plywood before the storm, Ernie Seneca, a spokesman for the state’s Crime Control and Public Safety Department, said by telephone from Raleigh.

The dead were identified as Katherine Morales Cruz, 15, of Manassas Park, Virginia; Ricky Webb, 63, of Tennessee; Tim Avery, 50, of Ayden; Jose Manuel Farabia Corona, 21, of Dover; Sabrina Anne Jones, 26, of Clinton, and Melton Robinson Jr., AP said.

Estimated insured losses in North Carolina are $687.8 million, while total economic losses may be $1.44 billion, according to Kinetic.

Steve Troxler, the state agriculture commissioner, said Hurricane Irene caused hundreds of millions of dollars in crop damage and left some farms devastated, according to the Charlotte News & Observer.

Troxler toured the state and spoke with affected farmers Aug. 28 while saying the extent of the damage and financial loss from high winds and flooding won’t be known for at least several weeks. Irene made landfall at Cape Lookout Aug. 27.

“There will be total losses in some areas,” Troxler told the Observer. “This is going to be a significant agricultural event in the state.”

The storm-battered region east of Interstate 95 is the breadbasket of North Carolina’s $70 billion-a-year agriculture industry, home to the majority of the state’s corn, tobacco, soy, hog and turkey operations.

About 252,300 customers remained without power yesterday, the Energy Department said. At least 40 roads and bridges were closed, according to the office of the governor.

Pennsylvania

Five deaths were attributed to Irene, according to state emergency officials and AP.

A 58-year-old Harrisburg man died in East Hanover Township when a tree fell on his tent, AP said. Michael Scerarko, 44, died when a tree fell on him in his yard and the body of Patricia O’Neill, 64, of East Norriton, was found in a creek, AP said. Two other men were killed, one by a falling tree and another in a car accident, AP said.

In Philadelphia, seven buildings collapsed and a roof was torn off a six-story apartment building in the Center City neighborhood, Mark McDonald, a spokesman for Mayor Michael Nutter, said by telephone.

Estimated insured losses in Pennsylvania are $55.5 million, while total economic losses may be $138.8 million, according to Kinetic.

About 420,100 customers were still without power yesterday afternoon, most in the southeastern part of the state, the Energy Department said. PECO Energy, the electric utility for the region, has brought in 4,000 workers from as far as Florida to handle repairs from downed trees, Karen Muldoon Geus, a spokeswoman, said in a telephone interview.

Rhode Island

Almost 300,000 customers were without power, Christine Hunsinger, a spokeswoman for Governor Lincoln Chafee, said by telephone. The number had fallen to about 276,300 by late yesterday, AP said.

Vermont

At least three storm-related deaths occurred, including a 20-year-old woman swept away in Wilmington and found dead, said Mark Bosma, an Emergency Management spokesman. The body of Rutland Water Treatment Plant Supervisor Michael Joseph Garofano was found yesterday, AP said, while his 24-year-old son Michael was missing. Another unidentified body of a man was found in Lake Rescue in Ludlow, according to the news service.

Swollen rivers washed out bridges, homes and businesses in what Governor Peter Shumlin said was the worst flooding in a century.

President Obama declared a state of emergency in Vermont yesterday. Roads were closed across the state, even as flooding receded, Bosma said by telephone yesterday. The state hospital in Waterbury was evacuated.

The Green Mountain Power unit of Montreal-based Gaz Metro Inc. decided against flooding the capital city of Montpelier to save the Marshfield Dam on the Winooski River, AP said. About 350 downstream residents were evacuated, the news service said.

About 41,700 homes and businesses remained without power yesterday, the Energy Department said. By 8 p.m., the VToutages.com website said the figure was down to about 30,400. The state has about 625,000 residents, according to U.S. Census data.

Virginia

At least four deaths were caused by falling trees, Governor Bob McDonnell said. Zahir Robinson, 11; James Blackwell, 67, of Brodnax; William P. Washington, 57, of King William County and an unidentified man were identified by AP as the victims.

The storm caused the second-largest power outage in state history as 2.5 million people were blacked out at one point, said Laura Southard, a spokeswoman for the Emergency Management Department.

Estimated insured losses in Virginia and Washington are $360.6 million, while total economic losses may be $757.3 million, according to Kinetic.

Dominion Resources Inc., which provides power to parts of Virginia and North Carolina, said about 1.2 million customers lost power in that region.

It will take up to several days to restore electric service, McDonnell said on a conference call with reporters. While the damage is still being tallied, he said the impact was less than feared.

“We prepared for the worst, but we fared better than expected,” he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Drew Armstrong in Washington at darmstrong17@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Tannenbaum at mtannen@bloomberg.net

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