Nightly News | August 29, 2011
>>> good evening. irene hasn't been a hurricane since yesterday. and it's long gone by now. way up and over canada. you would not believe the damage it's still unleashing over new england . this comes after it already chewed up the shore line , along the eastern seaboard . tonight in the wake of irene , at least 37 people are dead. 5 million americans at least are without power from north carolina on up to maine. the estimates at damage begin at $2 billion and go up from there, with so many americans already in the dark from this, the danger tonight is rising floodwaters from upstate new york into new england . we begin tonight with jim cantore of the weather channel in lower bartonsville, vermont . not only did you grow up around there, last night you predicted this would be the worst hurricane of in all places vermont history, and that's coming true.
>> usually storms weaken pretty quickly and accelerate up through new england . this one was so big and took its time. one of the ironic covered bridges that has been lost here in vermont that would take you from lower bartonsville into the town of chester in seconds, now that trip takes 15 minutes because you have to go around the river. we have 200 or more roads tonight closed. and there isn't one inch of vermont that hasn't been touched by this. nbc's ron allen has more.
>> reporter: irene left a wake of destruction in a mountainous land-locked state so far north , many never dreamed a tropical storm would strike. torrents of rain turned babbling brooks into raging rivers.
>> fortunately we were spared the heavy winds from the hurricane. but this type of damage right here has got to be far more devastating in the long run.
>> here it comes.
>> reporter: cars were sucked downstream. this trailer home was shoved under a railroad bridge .
>> oh, my god.
>> reporter: an iconic covered bridge disappeared into a swollen river. washing away a century of history. dean has worked his family's farm all his 58 years.
>> this is something that's never happened in my lifetime.
>> how is it going in there?
>> reporter: vermont 's governor called it the state's worst flooding perhaps ever.
>> we are convinced there are further challenges ahead, there will be more loss of life.
>> reporter: at least two people have already died in the floodwaters. hundreds of people are still cut off and cannot be reached. every major road in the state has some damage. a town known for its arts was covered in mud. alyssa's store was damaged but not her spirit.
>> it's a wonderful community and i feel like we're well loved and everything will be okay.
>> reporter: in some places the floodwaters are still rising . ron allen , nbc news, rattleboro, vermont .
>> you have to go back to the late 1800s for which this bridge was first here, a wooden covered bridge . a very iconic symbol rebuilt in the 1980s and now gone to mother nature 's fast moving waters from last night. let's take a look at this hurricane. even though we didn't get to that big stature of category 3 or 4, this was a wrecking machine from puerto rico through the bahamas. you can see it coming up through the carolinas on saturday morning, and then up through new england . it moved slow enough to produce significant rainfall. look at this area where we had significant flooding. huge areas all across new england . and there you see vermont sitting right there, brian. almost every inch recovering from flooding this evening. five all time record crests, in other words, the river has never gotten that high on rivers across the state of vermont .
>> help a layperson out here, you and i were on the air most of the weekend tracking this storm. most people thought enough already, this is the tail end, it was booking out of here.
>> frankly, this destruction in new england took a lot of us by surprise. did it take meteorologists by surprise?
>> well, the problem was, this was really set up to be a problem. because there was so much rain up here, you and i talked about philadelphia, new york setting all time wettest augusts and that wet weather has continued all the way up through new england . when you start looking at the pictures and the rate of the rainfall, we're bringing a tropical system to the northern latitu latitude. that always means trouble. and as you can see from some of these pictures and some scenes here, just horrible scenes. i have to tell you, having grown up in through here, and seeing the bridge, the fields in windsor i played on a lot as a child, it takes you a moment.
>> jim cantore , thanks for your hard work, and again following