Prayers for New England 2011

‘We were pretending it was still behind us’:

North Carolina family devastated by loss

of historic cottage

  • Stinson family devastated by loss of cottage in Nags Head, North Carolina
  • Homes and hundreds of roads and bridges washed away in Vermont by ‘epic’ flood waters
  • ‘Two thirds of the state are inundated with rapidly rising waters, which we anticipate will be an issue for the next 24 hours,’ say state officials
  • High flood waters seemed to come as a surprise to the state where evacuations had not been made
  • National Hurricane Center forecasting ‘record flooding’ in Vermont and New Hampshire
  • Rivers and streams burst banks in upstate New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts
  • Last night flood waters were rising in New Jersey closing major highways including the New Jersey Turnpike
  • At least 32 people have died in the storm, most of them when trees crashed through roofs or onto cars
  • President Barack Obama warns, ‘This is not over’, as he says flooding could get worse

By Daily Mail Reporter

Last updated at 6:08 PM on 29th August 2011

It stood tall among beachfront homes – a massive cottage in Nags Head, North Carolina, that rose from the Roanoke Sound where Billy Stinson and his family have been going to nearly 50 years.

But in the blink of an eye, it was gone, swept away by the wrath of Hurricane Irene.

The Stinson family’s devastation has been shown in several photographs of the disaster, a father comforting his wife and daughter on the steps leading to where their house once stood, staring at the ocean beyond.

Scroll down for video

Loss: The Stinson family looks out at the ocean from the remains of their beachfront home, which was swept away in the wrath of Hurricane IreneLoss: The Stinson family looks out at the ocean from the remains of their beachfront home, which was swept away in the wrath of Hurricane Irene
Beauty: The Stinson cottage, seen in this 2010 photo, was built in 1903, and bought by Billy Stinson's family in 1963Beauty: The Stinson cottage, seen in this 2010 photo, was built in 1903, and bought by Billy Stinson’s family in 1963
Rubble: Billy Stinson, left, is comforted by neighbour Lisa Morrisette while he sits next to a pile of debris that was once his cottage in Nags Head, North CarolinaRubble: Billy Stinson, left, is comforted by neighbour Lisa Morrisette while he sits next to a pile of debris that was once his cottage in Nags Head, North Carolina

His daughter, Erin Stinson said: ‘We were pretending, just for a moment, that the cottage was still behind us and we were just sitting there watching the sunset.’

The cottage, which was built in 1903, was bought by Billy Stinson’s family in 1963.

Since then, it was where the retired art teacher spent his vacations, wooed his wife Sandra, and gathered with family, according to OurState.com in an article written a year ago that recounts the cottage and its rich history.

Whole neighbourhoods lay submerged underwater and millions were without power in Hurricane Irene’s wake last night as the storm moved north.

Rivers and creeks turned into raging torrents tumbling with tree limbs and parts of buildings in northern New England and upstate New York as the storm’s winds diminished, but the torrential rains refused to let up.

Late last night, the storm continued to batter Vermont with heavy rains forcing hundreds  of evacuations.

‘This is not over,’ President Barack Obama said from the White House. ‘Many Americans are still at serious risk of power outages and flooding, which could get worse in the coming days as rivers swell past their banks.’

Picking up the pieces: A friend comforts Billy Stinson as the North Carolina man tries to salvage his belongings from the destroyed cottagePicking up the pieces: A friend comforts Billy Stinson as the North Carolina man tries to salvage his belongings from the destroyed cottage
Grief: Billy Stinson, right, and his daughter Erin comfort each other as they stand next to the pile of debris that was once their cottage in Nags Head, North CarolinaGrief: Billy Stinson, right, and his daughter Erin comfort each other as they stand next to the pile of debris that was once their cottage in Nags Head, North Carolina
Devastation: Billy Stinson, left, comforts his daughter Erin as they sit on the steps where their cottage once stood before it was destroyed by Hurricane IreneDevastation: Billy Stinson, left, comforts his daughter Erin as they sit on the steps where their cottage once stood before it was destroyed by Hurricane Irene
Destruction: Route 12 on Hatteras Island, North Carolina yesterday after Irene swept through the area, cutting the roadway in five locationsDestruction: Route 12 on Hatteras Island, North Carolina yesterday after Irene swept through the area, cutting the roadway in five locations
Devastation: A Vermont home is on the brink of collapse after it was nearly washed away by strong floodwatersDevastation: A Vermont home is on the brink of collapse after it was nearly washed away by strong floodwaters

Fire and water: Several homes already caught in flood-damaged areas caught fire yesterday in incidents involving downed wires and propane tanksFire and water: Several homes already caught in flood-damaged areas caught fire yesterday in incidents involving downed wires and propane tanks

Roads become rivers: Streets of Asbury Park, New Jersey, are flooded after Hurricane Irene moved through the area on SundayRoads become rivers: Streets of Asbury Park, New Jersey, are flooded after Hurricane Irene moved through the area on Sunday

Storm path: A motorboat passes a submerged pickup truck on Main Street in Washingtonville, New York following heavy rainfallsStorm path: A motorboat passes a submerged pickup truck on Main Street in Washingtonville, New York following heavy rainfalls
Water everywhere: Floodwaters cover Main Street in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Irene in Waterbury, VermontWater everywhere: Floodwaters cover Main Street in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Irene in Waterbury, Vermont

While the full extent of the damage was not known, early estimates put it up to $45billion, including lost business and physical damage.

Up and down the coast, the images were the same: Siding peeled from houses; boats torn from moorings and thrown ashore, massive trees ripped from the ground and cars submerged beneath flood waters.

Flooding was widespread in Vermont, where parts of Brattleboro, Bennington and several other communities, were submerged. One woman was swept away and feared drowned in the Deerfield River.

‘It’s very serious for us at the moment in Vermont. The top two-thirds of the state are inundated with rapidly rising waters, which we anticipate will be an issue for the next 24 hours,’ said Robert Stirewalt, a spokesman for Vermont Emergency Management Agency.

Hundreds of Vermonters were told to leave their homes after Irene dumped several inches of rain on the landlocked state.

Video posted on Facebook showed a 141-year-old covered bridge in Rockingham swept away by the roiling, muddy Williams River. In another video, an empty car somersaulted down a river in Bennington.

‘It’s pretty fierce. I’ve never seen anything like it,’ said Michelle Guevin, who spoke from a Brattleboro restaurant after leaving her home in nearby Newfane. She said the fast-moving Rock River was washing out the road to her house.

The high flood waters seemed to come as a surprise to a state where evacuations had not been made.

‘We didn’t know where the storm was going to hit,’ Mark Bosma of the state’s emergency agency said as floodwaters lapped around the command centre. ‘Evacuations beforehand just weren’t possible.’

At least 32 people died in the storm across the country, most of them when trees crashed through roofs or onto cars.

Rivers and streams yesterday swelled until they burst their banks in upstate New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts.

Last night, flood waters were rising across New Jersey, closing side streets and major highways including the New Jersey Turnpike and Interstate 295.

In Essex County, authorities used a five-ton truck to ferry people away from their homes as the Passaic River neared its expected crest on Sunday night.

Widespread: Flooding was under way or forecast along rivers throughout New England. Purple squares show major flooding, red moderate flooding and orange minor floodingWidespread: Flooding was under way or forecast along rivers throughout New England. Purple squares show major flooding, red moderate flooding and orange minor flooding
Ravaged: A flooded road is seen in Hatteras Island, N.C., after Hurricane Irene swept through the areaRavaged: A flooded road is seen in Hatteras Island, N.C., after Hurricane Irene swept through the area
Paddling: Kevin Holligan, of the Staten Island borough of New York, kayaks across a flooded section of the borough's Hyland BoulevardPaddling: Kevin Holligan, of the Staten Island borough of New York, kayaks across a flooded section of the borough’s Hyland Boulevard
Rescue: A person searches for anyone who may be occupying a building as raging flood waters from Tropical Storm Irene cross Route 100, closing the main road to traffic in Waitsfield, VermontRescue: A person searches for anyone who may be occupying a building as raging flood waters from Tropical Storm Irene cross Route 100, closing the main road to traffic in Waitsfield, Vermont
Water levels: A deer is seen in floodwaters in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene in Lincoln Park, New Jersey. Rivers and creeks surged toward potentially record levels late on Sunday as Irene charged to the north and left behind a messWater levels: A deer is seen in floodwaters in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene in Lincoln Park, New Jersey. Rivers and creeks surged toward potentially record levels late on Sunday as Irene charged to the north and left behind a mess

Twenty homes on the Long Island Sound in Connecticut were destroyed by churning surf.

In the Connecticut town of Prospect, 89-year-old Charlotte Levine was killed early Sunday when a falling tree limb pulled power lines onto her home and started a fire.

The torrential rain chased hundreds of people in upstate New York from their homes and washed out 137 miles of the state’s main highway.

Downtown Windham, New York, was ‘wiped out’ by flooding, with four feet of water rushing through the main street, said Michael Scarey, the town’s fire chief.

In Massachusetts, the National Guard had to help people evacuate. The ski resort town of Wilmington, Vermont, was flooded, but nobody could get to it because both state roads leading there were underwater.

‘This is the worst I’ve ever seen in Vermont,’ said Mike O’Neil, the state emergency management director.

Captain Ray Keefe of Vermont State Police described the flooding as ‘epic.’

‘I’ve never seen flooding like this, especially this widespread,’ he said. ‘We’ve lost a lot of homes. Hundreds of roads, bridges have been washed away. This has been a real tough one.’

Flooded roads: A man walks on top of a wall next to a flooded highway in New Brunswick, New Jersey, as heavy rains left by Hurricane Irene are causing inland flooding of rivers and streamsFlooded roads: A man walks on top of a wall next to a flooded highway in New Brunswick, New Jersey, as heavy rains left by Hurricane Irene are causing inland flooding of rivers and streams
Flooding: A security guard hangs on the door of governor Andrew Cuomo's SUV in the middle of a flooded street in Margaretville, New York on SundayFlooding: A security guard hangs on the door of governor Andrew Cuomo’s SUV in the middle of a flooded street in Margaretville, New York on Sunday
Underwater: Downtown New Brunswick, New Jersey, can be see near the overflowing Raritan River on Sunday as heavy rains left by Hurricane Irene are causing inland flooding of rivers and streamsUnderwater: Downtown New Brunswick, New Jersey, can be see near the overflowing Raritan River on Sunday as heavy rains left by Hurricane Irene are causing inland flooding of rivers and streams
Submerged: Andre Kozlov, 38, walks through his flooded basement after the pass of Hurricane Irene in Hoboken, New JerseySubmerged: Andre Kozlov, 38, walks through his flooded basement after the pass of Hurricane Irene in Hoboken, New Jersey

Rivers roared in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. In the Hudson Valley town of New Paltz, New York, so many people were gathering to watch a rising river that authorities banned alcohol sales and ordered people inside.

And in Rhode Island, which has a geography thick with bays, inlets and shoreline, authorities were worried about coastal flooding at evening high tide.

The entire Northeast has been drenched this summer with what has seemed like relentless rain, saturating the ground and raising the risk of flooding, even after the storm passes altogether.

The storm system also knocked out power for millions of people along the Eastern Seaboard and on Sunday night, electricity companies warned it could take weeks to restore power.

THE VICTIMS OF HURRICANE IRENE

CONNECTICUT: 2

  • In Prospect, 89-year-old Charlotte Levine was killed early Sunday when a falling tree limb pulled power lines onto her house and started a fire.
  • In Bristol, 46-year-old Shane Seaver died after he and another man went canoeing down a flooded street and the canoe capsized. Seaver’s body washed ashore late Sunday in Plainville.

FLORIDA: 2

  • In Volusia County, 55-year-old Frederick Fernandez died Saturday off New Smyrna Beach after he was tossed off his board by massive waves caused by Irene.
  • In Flagler County, 55-year-old tourist James Palmer of New Jersey died Saturday in rough surf.

MARYLAND: 1

  • In Queen Anne’s County, Md., 85-year-old Anne Bell was killed when a tree knocked a chimney through the glass roof of the sunroom where she was sitting.

MASSACHUSETTS: 1

  • In Southbridge, a public works employee was apparently electrocuted by a downed wire at his home Monday morning as he headed to work, officials said.

NEW JERSEY: 4

  • Michael Kenwood, an emergency medical technician, died of injuries after being knocked over by floodwaters in Princeton.
  • Celena Sylvestri, 20, of Quinton, called her boyfriend and then 911 early Sunday seeking help getting out of her flooded car in Pilesgrove, police said. Her body was found eight hours later in the vehicle, about 150 feet off the road, police said.
  • The body of Ronald Dawkins, a 47-year-old postal worker, was found about two hours after he abandoned his partially submerged vehicle early Sunday and stepped into a hidden drainage creek, Kearny police said.
  • Scott Palecek, 39, was walking in Wanaque when a pipe broke loose and swept him away in floodwaters Sunday, police said.

NEW YORK: 5

  • Rozalia Gluck, 82, of Brooklyn, drowned in a cottage in the Catskills community of Fleischmanns that was swamped by floodwaters from a nearby creek.
  • A man in his 50s was electrocuted in Spring Valley when he tried to help a child who had gone into a flooded street with downed wires.
  • Sharon Stein, 68, drowned in a creek as she and her husband were evacuating their New Scotland home Sunday afternoon, state police said.
  • Police in Suffolk County say 68-year-old Joseph Rocco of East Islip drowned while windsurfing in Bellport Bay.
  • One man died after his inflatable boat capsized on the Croton River, police said.

NORTH CAROLINA: 6

  • A man was killed in Nash County after a tree limb fell on him outside his home Saturday morning.
  • Goldsboro police say a 15-year-old girl from northern Virginia died Saturday after the SUV carrying her and family members collided with another SUV at an intersection where Irene had knocked out power to traffic lights.
  • Authorities in Pitt County say a man was found dead in his home after Irene’s winds toppled a tree onto his house.
  • Another man in Pitt County drove through standing water, went off a road and died after striking a tree on Saturday.
  • A mother in Sampson County died Saturday morning when a tree fell on a car carrying her.
  • New Hanover County deputies recovered the body Sunday of Melton Robinson Jr., who had been missing since falling or jumping into the Cape Fear River.

PENNSYLVANIA: 6

  • The body of 63-year-old fisherman Gary Korney, of Glen Campbell, was identified Monday after being pulled from a lake where his boat capsized.
  • Michael Scerarko, 44, was killed Sunday when a tree fell on him in his yard.
  • A 58-year-old Harrisburg man was killed Sunday morning when a tree toppled onto his tent, state police said.
  • A man in a camper was crushed by a tree in northeastern Pennsylvania’s Luzerne County, officials said.
  • A motorist was killed on the Pennsylvania Turnpike when he lost control of his car during the storm in Carbon County, skidded over an embankment and hit a tree.
  • The body of 64-year-old Patricia O’Neill, of East Norriton, was discovered Sunday afternoon in the Wissahickon Creek, around a half-mile from where her car was found in the flooded waterway.

VERMONT: 1

  • The body of a man believed to be one of two who had been checking Sunday afternoon on the intake of Rutland’s water system was recovered Monday.

VIRGINIA: 4

  • Newport News authorities reported that 11-year-old Zahir Robinson was killed when a tree crashed through his apartment.
  • In Brunswick County, a tree fell across a car Saturday afternoon, killing 67-year-old James Blackwell of Brodnax.
  • Chesterfield County police say a man died at a Hopewell hospital Saturday after a tree fell on a house he was in.
  • A King William County man, 57-year-old William P. Washington, was killed when a tree fell on him as he was cutting another tree Saturday night.

(Source – AP)

The lights went out for more than seven million people and businesses from Folly Beach, South Carolina, to Portland, Maine. And thousands of utility workers have begun the race to restore power.

Getting the lights back on will be an enormous job for crews fanning across the East Coast.

Irene ripped down power lines and crushed critical equipment near power plants.

It flooded coastal cities with seawater, dousing electrical stations and threatening underground wires. Crews are still assessing the damage.

‘We’re dark across the whole map,’ said Theresa Gilbert of Connecticut Light & Power. Irene blacked out half of the utility’s 1.2 million customers on Sunday, making it the biggest outage in Connecticut history.

Return: Resident Norm Stump watches his son Hunter take a paddle boat to help residents return to investigate their homes on a flooded street in Southampton, New YorkReturn: Resident Norm Stump watches his son Hunter take a paddle boat to help residents return to investigate their homes on a flooded street in Southampton, New York
Toppled: A Fairfield Beach Road home is submerged in Pine Creek in Fairfield, Connecticut as treacherous weather caused by Tropical Storm Irene came through the area on SundayToppled: A Fairfield Beach Road home is submerged in Pine Creek in Fairfield, Connecticut as treacherous weather caused by Tropical Storm Irene came through the area on Sunday
Roaring: Mel Martin joins a crowd watching the raging Whetstone Brook surge over the falls in downtown Brattleboro, VermontRoaring: Mel Martin joins a crowd watching the raging Whetstone Brook surge over the falls in downtown Brattleboro, Vermont

More than five million people and businesses remain without power, and the storm had led to the deaths of at least 20 people in eight states by Sunday evening.

Some areas in its path, like Manhattan, were relatively unscathed by the weekend storm, while other areas will need days, or even weeks, to recover.

In the hardest-hit areas, pockets of about 20 homes were destroyed.

For many, though, the storm was more inconvenience than calamity.

In Ocean City, Maryland, Charlie Koetzle ignored evacuation orders and went to the boardwalk before dawn in his swim trunks and flip-flops, saying he always wanted to see a hurricane.

Asked about damage, he mentioned a sign that blew down, the Associated Press reports.

‘The beach is still here, and there is lots of it,’ he said.

‘I don’t think it was as bad as they said it was going to be.’

Some cell phone networks were knocked out in coastal North Carolina and Virginia, and regulators warned more towers could go silent as backup batteries and generators run dry. At least 125,000 people were without landline service.

The outages could be critical for the elderly, disabled and others who rely on community services.

‘What if we’re without power for days?’ asked Pat Dillon, 52, who is partially paralysed from a stroke.

Ms Dillon’s senior care facility in Milford, Connecticut, lost power when a generator failed.

As she sat in the dark, Ms Dillon worried that her wheelchair’s batteries would run out. Even worse, she needs to keep her diabetes mediation chilled.

Raging: Derrick Arbuckle watches from the top of a parking garage as the Whetstone Brook floods downtown Brattleboro, VermontRaging: Derrick Arbuckle watches from the top of a parking garage as the Whetstone Brook floods downtown Brattleboro, Vermont
Securing: Rich Machnicz throws a rope to his son Shawn as they try to secure a floating dock on the Housatonic River behind their home in the Maples neigborhood of Shelton, ConnecticutSecuring: Rich Machnicz throws a rope to his son Shawn as they try to secure a floating dock on the Housatonic River behind their home in the Maples neigborhood of Shelton, Connecticut
Making the best of it: A man kayaks down West Broadway in Manhattan as flood waters ripple through Manhattan's trendy SoHo neighbourhoodMaking the best of it: A man kayaks down West Broadway in Manhattan as flood waters ripple through Manhattan’s trendy SoHo neighbourhood
Surge: A walkway at the southern part of Battery Park in Lower Manhattan today as Irene strikes the citySurge: A walkway at the southern part of Battery Park in Lower Manhattan today as Irene strikes the city

‘Once the refrigerator gets warm, my insulin goes bad,’ Ms Dillon said. ‘I could go into diabetic shock. It’s kind of scary.’

Power companies say they’ll try to get critical services running first. But many are just starting to understand the full extent of damage to the grid.

Utility workers must traverse thousands of square miles to find out what’s down before they can start repairs.

‘It’s going to be several days at least for our most severely damaged areas’ to get power back, said Mike Hughes, a spokesman for Progress Energy in North Carolina, which serves about 3.1 million customers.

Gilbert, with Connecticut Power, said it took two weeks to restore power after Hurricane Gloria knocked out service to 477,000 customers in 1985.

‘And this definitely blows those numbers away,’ she said.

In Virginia, Irene knocked out power to more than 300 critical services, including hospitals, emergency call centers and fire stations.

Dominion Resources expects half of those facilities to be restored by the end of the day and most of the rest fixed by Monday.

Most public health and safety facilities have backup generators, Dominion spokesman Dan Genest said. ‘For those that don’t, we’re asking them to take care of their people as well as they can. We’ll get them up as soon as possible.’

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Comments (33)

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Noting that some people in this storm lost their lives trying to save others. I’d like to take a moment to thank all over those that helped others in needs during and immediately following this storm. My uncle is a fire chief in NC and was on call during Irene. Having dealt with the larger hurricanes, this one seemed like a joke and to an extent was extremely over hyped. However, before the storms higher winds even reached the coast (WFD can only go out on calls until the winds reach 50+ mph) they were getting calls of down power lines, trees on houses & exploding transformers. It’s really scary to know that someone you love is one of those going out to take care of such things so that others can remain safe, especially when his own best friend died from electrocution in the aftermath of Floyd. So thank you Fire, police, emts & those neighbors who just happen to have the heart of a hero. Your kindness does not go unnoticed ❤

– Addelynn, NoCal, USA, 29/8/2011 19:28

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The media coverage has obsessively focused on the Northeast, as it’s densely populated (and home to the media and politicos). It was a bad storm in NY — I was there — but not the apocalypse they wanted it to be. The most damage occurred in the South — and not just to vacation homes like in the dramatic photo. Plenty of primary homes and businesses affected.

– Emma, USA, 29/8/2011 19:26

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DEBBIE, NY who cares about the spelliing? The point is once again people in NY think they have it worse than every one else. Tell me what is so great about your city that you think it deserves more consideration than any where else? It isn’t that great. It is full of selfish, self important people. It was attacked some years ago and we have been hearing about it ever since. Get over yourselves will you. You are getting boring. For the rest of the people in the US affected by this, hope you pick up soon. I feel sorry that you all have to take second place to that city on the east coast. I’m thinking about you not NY. They have enough money to take care of themselves.

– jane, northants, 29/8/2011 18:49

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This is the 1st I’ve actually sat down and red/watched about Irene…how devastating! Can’t imagine what it would be like to lose your home. I hope these people get the help they need!

– Lynne, Ex Pat East Kilbride, Scotland. , 29/8/2011 18:40

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Sorry for the familiy’s loss but most of those properties are second homes built on watershed and wetlands. Should anyone have the right to build on these lands as they are there for a reason. This land is invaluable and no one should be allowed to build on it. Keep it for the birds and animals then people can save themselves some heartache every five years or so.

– Clamdip, USA, 29/8/2011 18:37

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Hmmm….are we supposed to have outright sympathy here? this was their holiday home, correct?? not their actual home?? when there are so many homeless people in the world you want us to feel sorry for someone who has lost their holiday home?? have some perspective here, this is not a story at all. Show me a story where a family has lost their home, that would recieve my sympathy, not a rich family who have lost their holiday home!!

– james, london, 29/8/2011 18:35

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