Hurricane Irene Update: Power Outages Plague East Coast

  @http://twitter.com/jtalty on August 27 2011 8:02 PM

Hurricane Irene began her attack on the East Coast on Saturday -- killing at least 8 and leaving more than a million people without power.

The Category 1 storm -- with sustained winds of 80 mph -- battered North Carolina and Virginia on Saturday as it made its way up the East Coast. The storm has killed at least 8, including an 11-year-old boy, mostly in North Carolina.

More than a million people have already lost power due to Hurricane Irene, mostly in North Carolina and Virginia. Even areas that have yet to be hit by anything more than rainfall have seen power outages. Prince George's County in Maryland reported more than 10,000 outages, despite the storm's eye nowhere near the area.

That number is expected to dramatically increase as the storm starts to hit more densely populated areas like New Jersey and New York. New Jersey, the most densely populated state in the country, began to experience scattered, yet heavy rainfall throughout the day, specifically in the Atlantic City and Jersey Shore regions.

Gas and electric companies throughout the East Coast are already warning customers that power outages are likely and could last for a long time. Pepco began to robot call its Washington, D.C. customers as early as Friday to warn of power outages. Baltimore Gas & Electric is planning for as many as 500,000 customers losing power, according to a company statement.

One of the biggest issue is not only the staggering amount of peole that might be left without power, but also the time it will take to get electricity back in those areas.

In a normal situation in which a state faced major issues, such as power outages, borders states could send help to expedite the process. But because Irene is expected to impact the entire East Coast, reinforcements will likely come from the Midwest.

This could leave residents without power for an extended period of time. Philadelphia has already told its habitants to prepare for power outages for up to two weeks - even though the city isn't expected to be one of the worst to be hit.

 Irene's strong winds and heavy rain threaten to deliver long-lasting power outages to millions of East Coast customers, according to utility officials and forecasters, SNL Energy analyst Jesse Gilbert wrote. Rarely does a storm come along that poses a threat to power infrastructure in so many service territories.

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