Irene leaves floods in wake as it moves into Canada

U.S. authorities say massive flooding has affected parts of the country’s northeast, one day after a weakening Hurricane Irene swept through the region.

U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency chief Craig Fugate said Monday that flooding has reached record levels in the states of Vermont and New York. Rivers and creeks in both states burst their banks, producing torrents of water that swept away trees, cars and parts of historic bridges. Hundreds of residents fled to shelters.

Irene first hit the United States Friday, making landfall in the state of North Carolina, before moving along the mid-Atlantic coast on Saturday and weakening into a tropical storm over New England on Sunday.

Authorities reported 33 storm-related deaths in 10 eastern states, mostly from falling trees, road accidents and raging floodwaters. Experts say the damage is likely to total billions of dollars. Fugate said it is too early to give an official estimate because federal, state and local authorities still are assessing the destruction.

Fugate said about 5 million homes and businesses on the East Coast remained without power Monday, down from 6 million the day before. Utilities say it will take days to restore electricity to many of those customers.

Forecasters downgraded Irene to a post-tropical storm early Monday as it moved over eastern Canada. Authorities said strong winds and heavy rain from the storm knocked out power to about 250,000 homes and businesses in Quebec and Canada’s Atlantic provinces. One man was missing after floodwaters swept away a car northeast of Montreal.

Irene’s center passed over New York, but spared the city major damage. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Monday the city’s airports have re-opened and a memorial to the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks will open on schedule next month. But he also said about 1,000 people were in shelters and 38,000 people were without power.

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