Aug 27, 2011 9:16 PM by Stephanie Collins

Irene proving destructive even as it weakens, at least 5 now dead

MOREHEAD CITY, N.C. (AP) - Hurricane Irene has weakened but it's still big enough and strong enough to cause significant damage up the Eastern Seaboard.

North Carolina was first in line, getting hit by wind gusts as high as 115 mph, 7-foot waves and storm surge that's inundated coastal and low-lying communities. Forecasters are warning that Virginia, Maryland and Delaware are in for the same, as are New York Harbor and Long Island Sound.

At least five deaths are being blamed on the storm. The winds have been snapping trees and power lines, leaving nearly 900,000 homes and businesses in the dark.

Airlines have scrapped more than 9,000 scheduled for this weekend. Forecasters say Hurricane Irene is maintaining its 80 mph speed, with higher gusts, and has re-emerged over the Atlantic Ocean to about 35 miles southeast of Norfolk, Va.

The National Weather Service says the storm is moving north-northeast at 16 mph and is expected to remain a hurricane.


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