Relief efforts hampered as East Coast reels from Irene


A street is flooded on Coney Island after Hurricane Irene hit, in New York, August 28, 2011. Irene weakened to tropical storm status Sunday as it hit New York City, the National Hurricane Center said, but the still powerful storm was flooding parts of lower Manhattan.


Emmanuel Dunand

Storm-relief supplies are being airlifted to Vermont towns which remain cut off after being hit by Irene, as eastern states reel from the after-effects of the hurricane turned tropical storm.

The death toll stands at 44 people killed across 13 U.S. states.

Vermont has suffered its worst flooding in 75 years. Rescue efforts to many towns were being hampered by roads that were either blocked or washed away.

Eleven towns remained cut off late Tuesday night. They were Cavendish, Granville, Hancock, Killington, Mendon, Marlboro, Pittsfield, Plymouth, Stockbridge, Strafford and Wardsboro.

Officials warned some rivers and creeks in Vermont had yet to crest.

(GlobalPost in pictures: The Aftermath of Hurricane Irene)

New Jersey ordered new evacuations in Paterson as the Passaic River, in the state's north-east, crested causing extensive flooding.

Governor Chris Christie described scenes of “extraordinary despair”, adding that inland flooding would likely continue for a further 48 hours.

Parts of Connecticut were also reportedly at risk, with the Connecticut River 23 feet above flood stage on Tuesday afternoon.

Meanwhile lawmakers are debating ways to pay for the disaster relief.

Bloomberg reported Wednesday that Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor is pushing for budget cuts to cover the clean-up cost. His spokeswoman, Laena Fallon, said:

In the face of a $14 trillion national debt, that is the responsible thing to do

Both Republicans and Democrats agree additional funding is needed to help stricken communities rebuild.