The 2011 Hurricane Irene (there was an Irene in 1999 too) was formed on August 20 and eventually dissipated nine days later. It’s stint affected the Caribbean and eastern North America. The storm, which developed and escalated quickly, sent many scrambling for hardware, catastrophic health insurance, food supplies and evacuation. Irene devastated caused quite a bit of damage and the exact figures are still being calculated.
Irene was the ninth named storm but the first hurricane of the 2011 season. After traveling from her Caribbean origin it first hit land in Puerto Rico on August 22nd. She caused significant property damage as an intensifying category 1 Hurricane. After a brief weakening on August 23, Irene developed a noticeable eye then moved over the southeast Bahamas, the warm waters strengthening Irene to a category 3.
The Hurricane’s eye collapsed slightly in an eyewall replacement cycle luckily loosing some steam. Although, an eye did again develop for a handful of hours the storm did not recover from collapse and did not strengthen from that juncture on.
By August 27th Irene was a category 1 hurricane again and at 7:30 am EDT it made landfall near Cape Lookout on North Carolina’s Outer Banks, with winds of 85 mph. Later that day the Hurricane reemerged into the ocean near the Chesapeake Bay. At 5:35 am EDT on August 28th Irene ran onto the New Jersey shore before shortly retreating again. This weakened Irene and a few hours later, when making her third landfall, she was downgraded to a tropical storm before running over the Coney Island and Brooklyn areas at about 9:00 am EDT. Irene further weakened into a post-tropical storm over Maine at 11:00 pm EDT. The remains of the storm continued northward into Quebec eventually crossing the St. Lawrence River.
North Carolina took the brunt of the devastation. A mandatory evacuation order was issued on August 23rd for Ocracoke Island and Hyde County. August 25th saw evacuations for Dare and Carteret Counties and Bogue Banks the next day, 400,000 NC homes were left without power.
More mandatory evacuations trickled up the east coast as Irene moved-in.
The strong winds paired with rain-saturated soil to uproot countless trees and power lines in affected areas. Nearly 7.4 million people were left without power.
Irene is estimated at $7 billion USD in damage and there have been at least 44 deaths across 10 states reported thus far. Around 9,000 flights were canceled because of the extreme weather. Flooding still continues as massive amounts of fallen rainwater make their way to the sea. It will take awhile for the affected communities to recover, a task made even more daunting by the suspicion around Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) stability and ability to help an organization with notorious amounts of red tape and recent financial troubles.