Hurricane Irene is here, unloading a foot of rain on North Carolina and Virginia and ripping power lines from poles and snapping trees in half. Six people are dead and nearly 1.9 million customers are already without power, reports AP. NYC's mass transit system has been shut down, as have the area's five airports. In other Irene news:
- A woman ran out of her home screaming "Where's my baby?" in Newport News, Va., after a tree crashed into her apartment complex. Rescue crews searched for hours until finding the body of her 11-year-old boy. Also among the dead are a surfer in New Smyrna Beach, Florida, and three men in North Carolina.
- The coastal town of Belhaven, NC, saw Irene spawn a tornado that pulled the roof from a warehouse of a car dealership yesterday and damaged trees and a mobile home. Six houses were also damaged by the tornado.
- Tropical storm conditions have already entered Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware. In the Sandbridge area of Virginia Beach, a tornado destroyed five houses and damaged several others.
- Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has ordered 6,500 active-duty troops to get ready for relief assistance.
- All told, at least 2.5 million people have been told to evacuate, including 300,000 in New York. More than 8,000 flights are canceled through Monday.