Irene moves north after lashing New York

Bay Shore, NY, USA, 27 Aug 2011 (AP)

New York City appears to have avoided an urban disaster from Hurricane Irene although the storm made landfall early today (630-am AT along the New Jersey coastline) and brought America’s largest city to a halt.

At least 45 deaths are being blamed on Irene along the American East Coast, thousands more have been evacuated from low-lying areas and millions have been left without electricity.

A powerful storm surge flooded streets in Manhattan and Brooklyn including the Coney Island amusement area.

By late morning, Irene had been downgraded to a tropical storm as it headed north over New England on its way to eastern Quebec and northern New Brunswick.