New York-Tropical storm Isaias pounded the US eastern seaboard with driving rain and strong winds on Tuesday, cutting power to millions of households and felling trees, including in New York.
At least one person was killed in New York City after a tree fell on their car, while another was critically injured by a falling branch, Mayor Bill de Blasio said.
Wind gusts up to 50 mph (80 kph) wreaked havoc across eastern states, littering streets with debris, closing roads and forcing the cancellation of scores of flights. Public transport services were also briefly suspended including New York’s famous Staten Island ferry. In New Jersey, where Governor Phil Murphy declared a state of emergency ahead of Isaias’s arrival, video footage showed a roof being torn off a house as residents were told to stay indoors amid a threat of tornadoes.
Isaias quickly moved up the East Coast after slamming into the coast of North Carolina overnight with hurricane strength before being downgraded to a tropical storm.
North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper said there had been at least one death in the southern state and an unspecified number of people injured. “Overall,” Cooper told ABC, “the damage was not any ways as great as it could have been.”
“We have a lot of trees down,” the governor said. “We have some storm surge flooding. We have about 355,000 people without power.”
New York authorities, ever wary of the devastating damage caused by Superstorm Sandy in 2012, set up temporary flood barriers in Lower Manhattan in case of storm surge. The orange flexible tubes known as “Tiger Dams” were put up in low-lying areas.
Officials had expected a possible storm surge of around one to two feet (0.3 to 0.6 meters). Sandy caused surges of up to 14 feet (4.2 meters).
But the rain turned out not to be as heavy as feared. “The storm has been much more of a wind event than flooding so far, thank God,” de Blasio told local news station NY1.
The National Hurricane Center (NHC) issued tornado watches for stretches of the East Coast.
At least 78 flights were canceled at New York’s LaGuardia Airport. There were 55 cancelations at JFK.
Nearly three million customers of utility companies had reported power outages in the Mid-Atlantic region, the majority in New Jersey.
The fast-moving storm is tracking northeast according to the NHC and is expected to sweep through the northeastern United States and into southern Canada overnight.
Washington, Baltimore and other cities on or near the Atlantic coast experienced heavy rainfall.
“I urge everyone in the storm’s path to remain alert and to follow the guidance of your state and local authorities,” President Donald Trump said Tuesday during a White House press conference.
The storm earlier dumped torrential rain on the Bahamas, felling trees and flooding streets, before emergency management officials on Sunday gave the all-clear.
At least one person died in Puerto Rico and the storm also lashed Haiti and the Dominican Republic.