Downgraded from hurricane status, tropical storm Irene traipsed through New York City on Sunday morning, causing significantly less damage than had been anticipated. Still, high winds downed trees, heavy rain caused sporadic flooding and more than a million people in the region lost electrical power.

According to the National Hurricane Center, the storm made landfall in New Jersey near Little Egg Inlet, north of Atlantic City, just after 5:30 a.m., and reached New York City by about 9 a.m. Water breached sea walls in many areas, and flooding was most serious in low-lying neighborhoods of Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island, with most of the blackouts occurring in those boroughs. The storm was expected to move on into southern New England later Sunday. –ARK

Earlier: A slow-moving Hurricane Irene began pummeling the coast of North Carolina early Saturday morning, flooding roads, knocking out power and causing at least five deaths.

The hurricane reached Cape Lookout, N.C., at 7:30 a.m. and was classified as a Category 1 storm, the mildest on a scale of five hurricane levels, but still packing winds of between 74 and 95 miles per hour and pushing a storm surge of 4 to 5 feet. –BF

The Los Angeles Times:

At least five people have died — in a car accident, by heart attack and by falling trees — as a result of Hurricane Irene, the slow-moving but powerful swirl of wind and rain that barreled ashore in North Carolina.

As the storm moved steadily north on Saturday, heavily populated areas of Washington, D.C., and New York City braced for impact. Irene is expected to continue its northward path through New England, before weakening early Sunday morning.

Storm-related disruptions of daily life were immense: More than 2 million people were ordered evacuated from low-lying areas that were expected to be inundated by surging flood waters accompanying the nearly 450-mile wide hurricane’s northward 14 mph trek. The country’s largest subway system ground to a halt as New York City officials took precautions against flooding.

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