The heavy rains and high winds of Hurricane Irene have subsided from Delaware to Philadelphia, but dangerous flooding and storm damage led government officials Sunday to tell people to stay off the roads.
“Unless you really need to be out, we’re asking folks to not be out unnecessarily,” Philadelphia Mayor Nutter said during a press conference. “Pretty much, stay in the house.”
Hurricane Irene thrashed violently through Philadelphia overnight, touching off at least one tornado, raising the Schuylkill River to levels not seen in 140 years, and drenching the Delaware and Jersey shores overnight. At least 11 people were killed in five states as Irene moved up the Eastern Seaboard.
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Sunday afternoon Chief Meteorologist Glenn "Hurricane" Schwartz said that the worst of the storm has passed the South Jersey, Delaware and Philadelphia area. The hurricane was downgraded to a tropical storm as it reached Coney Island in New York about 9:15 a.m.
By 10 p.m. the storm moved out of the area taking with it the gusty wind.
Nutter lifted the state of emergency at noon, but urged everyone to continue to stay inside and remain cautious because of area flooding and damage caused by the hurricane. There was a flood watch in effect until 2 p.m. Monday.
Main Street Manayunk was flooded and the water was expected to rise even more as the Schuylkill hit record levels, Nutter said. There were more than 165 tree-related emergencies in Fairmount Park since Irene hit.
About 350,000 residents were without power, according to PECO. There were more than 4,000 workers out on the road working to restore power, Nutter said.
Four buildings in Philadelphia crumbled during the hurricane, but no one was hurt, Nutter said.
Trash and recycling will be on normal schedule Monday and city government will be open.
Gov. Tom Corbett signed a letter Sunday asking President Obama for emergency disaster assistance for Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Lehigh, Monroe, Montgomery, North Hampton, Philadelphia, Pike, Wyoming and Wayne counties.
There were about 700,000 people without power in the state by Sunday evening.
There were no departing flights from Philadelphia International Airport Sunday, a spokeswoman told NBC Philadelphia. The only arriving flights were empty and will serve as the planes departing on Monday.
To date, one death was reported in the state as a result of the hurricane. A 58-year-old Harrisburg man was killed Sunday morning when a tree toppled onto a tent he was under, state police said. The man was one of about 20 people at a party on private property in East Hanover Township, Dauphin County, some of whom who decided to sleep outside.
“It is very dangerous to be outside in New Jersey right now," Gov. Chris Christie said Sunday. "I cannot urge people strongly enough -- or maybe I can -- stay inside. Stay inside."
Christie continued the state of emergency in New Jersey, as well as the mandatory evacuations for the Jersey Shore. Christie said that more than 650,000 people in the state were without power following the storm. The numbers will likely rise because of ongoing high winds.
Shelters holding 15,000 people across the state continued to provide food and water Sunday, but they were trying to get people to return home as soon as possible, especially residents in Atlantic County, Christie said.
A Princeton, N.J., firefighter was seriously injured during a water rescue Sunday morning, Christie said, but additional details were not immediately known.
One storm-related death was reported in New Jersey. Twenty-year-old Celena Sylvestri of Quinton was found dead in her car, submerged in water in the Salem County community of Pilesgrove, authorities said.
Swaths of Cherry Hill and parts of Camden were covered in water Sunday, and there are parts of the Garden State Parkway under water, though Christie said southbound lanes south of exit 98 will be reopening Sunday.
The New Jersey Turnpike was clear and open, as were all state bridges, Christie said.
NJ Transit rail service will remain suspended until further notice, except for the Atlantic City Rail Line. Crews are still trying to clear flooded stations and downed trees. Bus service is expected to operate a modified weekday schedule Monday.
Delaware Gov. Jack Markell lifted the state of emergency and the mandatory evacuation at about 5 p.m. Delmarva was working to restore power to more than 35,000 residents.
Wilmington Mayor James Baker announced that the state of emergency in the city was still in effect Sunday, but the evacuation order for residents in southeast Wilmington was lifted.
The hurricane made landfall near Little Egg Inlet, N.J., about 5:30 a.m. Sunday, less than 12 hours after spinning off a tornado in Sussex County, Del. just south of Lewes Saturday night. One home was demolished and more than a dozen homes were damaged in the Nassau Station and Tradewinds Subdivisions about 7 p.m. Saturday.
"The hurricane we expected," said a local man who witnessed the destruction. "The tornado is really a shock to me... And it happened out of nowhere."
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