Hurricane Irene Claims Six Lives

Hurricane Irene has been downgraded, but it’s still a dangerous storm. Six people have been confirmed to have died due to the storm, including an 11 year old boy whose apartment building was hit by a tree, and a surfer in Florida. The bands are now starting to reach New Jersey and Philadelphia.

I heard from a friend in West Chester, PA, which is a little west of Philly, and she said it was raining and the wind was really starting to pick up at about 5:30 PM. My Fox Philly just reported there is a tornado warning in Delaware, and that the Schuylkill River, Delaware River and most of the creeks in the area are likely to overflow and cause flooding.

In New York City, Mayor Bloomberg ordered hundreds of thousands to evacuate and even told them if they stayed they would be breaking the law. Many New Yorkers don’t care and plan to just hunker down and ride out the storm. Prisoners at Rikers Island have no choice but to stick around. Others tried to leave the city, but are stranded because public transportation has been shut down.

The storm made landfall in North Carolina early this morning, and is still getting pummeled with rain and wind. 17 inches of rain have fallen on the state.

Hurricane Irene charged up the U.S. eastern seaboard on Saturday as a weakening but dangerous storm that shut down New York City and threatened to inflict massive blackouts and flooding.

From the Carolinas to Maine, tens of millions of people were in the path of the giant 830 km wide storm that dumped more than 17 inches of rain on parts of coastal North Carolina after howling ashore at daybreak.

New York City ordered unprecedented evacuations and shut down its airports and subways, part of a huge public transit system that moves 8.5 million people a day on weekdays. Commuters were left to flag down yellow taxis and livery cabs that were patrolling largely deserted streets.

“We are trying to get to Boston and that is not going to happen. We’re just stuck here,” Rachel Karten said from the near-empty Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York. “We didn’t think they would shut down everything.”

Several million people were under evacuation orders on the U.S. East Coast. …

Update: Here’s video from Cape May, New Jersey, where only a few people have decided to ride it out.

Update: Irene Arrives At Shore, Philadelphia: MyFoxPHILLY.com