A Region-By-Region Look At Hurricane Irene’s Toll
Hurricane Irene and its remnants raked the Caribbean, the eastern U.S. and Canada for more than a week a year ago. Though it never hit the U.S. as anything stronger than a minimal hurricane, it killed at least 67 people in all and ranks as the costliest Category 1 storm on record since at least 1980. It caused an estimated $15.8 billion in total damage.
Below is a look at Irene’s toll, region by region, in the order the storm hit, based on official statistics, private estimates and Associated Press reports. Power outage figures are per customer, which is defined as one home or business.
State-by-state damage figures are estimates; they do not add up to $15.8 billion because many states do not calculate some losses, such as uninsured property damage.
Damage: At least $370 million
Power outages: Millions
The Caribbean fared better than initially feared because the worst of the storm missed major population centers. But hundreds of homes were damaged on Puerto Rico, the British Virgin Islands, the Dominican Republic and the Bahamas. Lightning sparked a fire that burned a house owned by billionaire Richard Branson in the British Virgin Islands; guests inside at the time included actress Kate Winslet. No one was injured.
Power outages: None
Irene threatened Florida’s Atlantic coast but then veered north and missed the state. Still, the storm brought some rain and heavy surf. A teacher and a tourist died in rough waters off New Smyrna Beach. Waves also damaged sea turtle nests along the central coast.
Damage: At least $5 million
Power outages: 8,000
Irene brushed the coast, snapping tree limbs and flooding streets in beach towns. The worst damage was to beaches, with erosion reported along the central coast.
Damage: At least $1.2 billion
Power outages: 660,000
The center of Irene made its first U.S. landfall as a Category 1 hurricane near Cape Lookout on the Outer Banks, a series of barrier islands. The storm cut a breach through Hatteras Island, resulting in the construction of a temporary bridge.
Damage: At least $182 million
Power outages: 1.1 million
While Irene struck Virginia’s southeastern coast and caused minor flooding and wind damage, the storm’s effects were most severe farther inland, closer to the area around the state capital, Richmond. Strong winds knocked down trees and caused the second-largest power outage in state history. Thousands of homes were damaged. More than 200 roads had to be closed.
Damage: At least $15 million
Power outages: More than 38,000
Some water leaked inside the Washington Monument, which had been damaged by an earthquake less than a week earlier. Hundreds of trees fell in the nation’s capital, some onto homes. “We fared much better than we could have,” Mayor Vincent Gray said.
Damage: At least $518.2 million
Power outages: 750,000
Irene forced the evacuation of Ocean City, but the coastal resort town avoided serious damage. A nuclear reactor was knocked offline by an automatic shutdown when siding blew into a transformer. Trees smashed into roofs of homes in the town of Hollywood. Long delays in restoring power helped lead Gov. Martin O’Malley to order a study to find ways to improve electricity distribution.
Damage: $43.2 million
Power outages: At least 119,000
A tornado damaged several homes in southern Delaware. Beaches were slightly damaged, and an access road through a wildlife refuge was washed out.
Damage: $58 million
Power outages: 1.3 million
Irene’s high winds and heavy rains uprooted trees, flooded creeks and rivers and caused widespread power outages across the eastern half of Pennsylvania. Three of the six deaths blamed on the hurricane resulted from falling trees. Recovery efforts were hampered by the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee, which struck the state less than two weeks later.
Damage: $1 billion
Power outages: 2 million
Irene’s center made its second U.S. landfall near Atlantic City with tropical storm-strength winds of 69 mph — 5 mph slower than needed for hurricane status. Yet it dumped as much as 10 inches of rain and caused record flooding in northern parts of the state. Many homes were damaged or destroyed, and thousands of people were displaced.
Damage: More than $1.3 billion
Power outages: 1.1 million
Irene’s eye made its third U.S. landfall in Brooklyn but did not materialize into the big-city disaster many had feared. The city had shut down its subway system for the first time in history and evacuated thousands of coastal residents. Only minor flooding was reported. But inland, the storm caused severe flooding that closed hundreds of roads and bridges. Tourist destinations in the Catskill and Adirondack mountains lost millions of dollars in revenue over the summer as they sought to repair damage to trees, hillsides and lakes that were drained by demolished dams.
Damage: $235 million
Power outages: 830,000
Irene’s center made its fourth and final U.S. landfall in Connecticut, hitting with 60 mph winds and drenching rains that destroyed dozens of coastal homes and flooded fields along rivers. Power outages broke a single-event record that had stood since Hurricane Gloria in 1985. The storm led lawmakers to pass legislation intended to improve utility companies’ response to storms and prevent large power failures.
Damage: $103.7 million
Power outages: 344,000
Long-term power outages were considered the worst effect. Trees blocked roads, but widespread flooding didn’t materialize. A state Senate committee called for better communication among the state’s emergency management agency, the utility company and local leaders.
Damage: $194.5 million
Power outages: 786,000
Power lines and trees were taken down, and flooding closed many roads. Repairs to an area ravaged by a rare tornado two months before were hindered. The state’s major population center, Boston, was barely afflicted.
Damage: $733 million
Power outages: 117,000
Irene’s rains caused Vermont’s most devastating natural disaster since flooding in 1927. About a dozen communities were cut off, some for days, after raging rivers tore out roads and bridges in the mountainous state. More than 500 miles of roads and dozens of bridges, including many of the state’s famous covered bridges, were damaged or destroyed. Thousands of people were displaced. The damage estimate almost equals two-thirds of Vermont’s annual general fund budget. Floodwaters coursed through a cemetery and ripped coffins from the ground, strewing remains for miles. A year later, road and bridge repairs are done, but some of the road projects need to be redone eventually because the work was stopgap. Some displaced residents still have not found permanent housing.
Damage: $35 million
Power outages: 175,000
Rain caused major flooding and closed hundreds of roads. Some trails in White Mountain National Forest are still closed; others are being restored.
Damage: $22.7 million
Power outages: More than 300,000
Lobstermen moved traps, boaters sought safe harbors and Gov. Paul LePage declared a state of emergency as Irene approached. Heavy rain in western Maine washed out two bridges near a popular ski resort.
Damage: $130 million
Power outages: More than 250,000
Irene crossed into Quebec as a post-tropical storm. Parts of southern Quebec experienced flooding, resulting in road washouts and one death when a culvert collapsed and a vehicle was swept into a river near Montreal. Heavy winds downed trees and knocked out electricity to tens of thousands in Quebec and New Brunswick. At the height of the storm 250,000 were without power in Quebec.