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WDAY: The News Leader

Published September 03, 2011, 02:19 PM

A feared mass killer, Irene got victims one by one

In Ayden, N.C.-- a man dies in his recliner, riding out Hurricane Irene at home because he didn't want to leave his Chihuahua at home alone.

By: John Curran,Associated Press, WDAY

In Ayden, N.C.-- a man dies in his recliner, riding out Hurricane Irene at home because he didn't want to leave his Chihuahua at home alone.

In Newport News, Va., a falling tree crushes an 11-year-old boy, sparing the mother who tried to protect him.

In Whitemarsh Township, Pa., a supermarket bookkeeper determined to make it to work for her 4:30 a.m. shift drives into floodwaters and drowns trying to walk the final mile.

And in Rutland, Vt., a public-works employee "conscientious to a fault" dies in a river's raging floodwaters and his adult son is swept away as they check on the city's water reservoir.

Hurricane Irene, which spared the East's major cities from large-scale destruction, was a killer storm, nonetheless.

Forecast to be the biggest in decades to hit the Eastern Seaboard, it triggered evacuations, airport closures and the unprecedented shutdown of New York's mass transit system.

But unlike major hurricanes that kill dozens of victims at a time, this storm claimed a victim here and a victim there on its angry swirl through 13 states as it spun toward Canada — at least 46 U.S. deaths in all.

"Water is the No. 1 killer," retired National Hurricane Center Director Max Mayfield had warned Friday afternoon as Irene took aim on the East. "That's going to cause the greatest loss of life."

Many of Irene's victims did die in furious storm waters, while others were killed by toppled trees, fires, carbon monoxide poisonings and electrocutions.

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