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Despite Mass Outages, Work, Life Resumes In New York City After Irene

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Morning rush hour traffic makes it's way into Manhattan over the Brooklyn Bridge, Monday, Aug. 29, 2011. (credit: Mary Altaffer/AP)

Morning rush hour traffic makes it’s way into Manhattan over the Brooklyn Bridge, Monday, Aug. 29, 2011. (credit: Mary Altaffer/AP)

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(Updated Aug 30, 8:31 a.m.)

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) –
Irene was here and now she’s gone, leaving New Yorkers cleaning up the damage left behind by the storm.

Irene was responsible for unprecented outages across the Tri-State Area, and utilities are working around the clock hoping to have power back for hundreds of thousands of customers.

Click Here for Updated Info On Outages: Con Ed | PSE&G | LIPA | CL&P | Orange & Rockland

Con Edison says it hopes to restore power to its city customers by late Tuesday evening.

It’ll take longer in Westchester because flooding and downed trees are hampering crews from reaching damaged lines. Service in Westchester is expected to be back by late Thursday.

“Access, trees down, flooded waters, flooded blocked streets from trees and/or floods, that’s what we encounter when we try to get the electricity turned back on,” said Con Ed spokesman Chris Olert.

Con Edison says the hardest hit areas in the city were Queens and Staten Island.

PHOTOS: Hurricane Irene | Facebook Fan Pics | Aerial View

But New Yorkers had something else to worry about: getting to work Monday.

As the workday began, Midtown Manhattan seemed to be coming back to life in the wake of Irene. Still, area workers say they think pedestrian and car traffic seem much quieter than normal.

The MTA shut down because of weather for the first time in its history, was taking many hours to get back on line. Limited bus service began Sunday and subway service was partially restored at 6 a.m. Monday.

The Long Island Rail Road put seven of its branches in service, while four others remained off line. The Metro-North Railroad to Westchester County and Connecticut was suspended because of flooding and mudslides. Service was restored to the Lower harlem and Lower Hudson lines at 2 p.m. Monday and was running on a Sunday schedule.

Riders were warned to expect long lines and long waits, but early commuters reported empty subways and smooth rides. During the morning rush hour, Grand Central Terminal was strangely quiet except for a few passing subway riders.

Airports in the Tri-State area reopened to a backlog of hundreds of thousands of passengers whose flights were canceled over the weekend.

Some of New York’s yellow cabs were up to their wheel wells in water, and water rushed over a marina near the New York Mercantile Exchange, where gold and oil are traded. But the New York flooding was not extensive from Irene, whose eye passed over Coney Island and Central Park.

The New York Stock Exchange opened for business on Monday, and the Sept. 11 memorial at the World Trade Center site didn’t lose a single tree.

State buildings in general weathered Irene in good condition and Gov. Andrew Cuomo says state offices will be open as usual today. He does warn that travel conditions in some areas may make it dangerous for some workers and the public to get to state offices.

Broadway planned to open up its theaters again Monday. While most Broadway shows traditionally run on a Tuesday-to-Sunday schedule, lately a number of shows have played Monday night, including “Chicago,” “Hair,” “Mamma Mia!,” “Rock of Ages,” “The Phantom of the Opera” and “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.”

The New York Blood Center is in urgent need of blood donors because it lost an estimated 2,000 donations during the storm.

The center cancelled all blood drives during Sunday’s storm. Its normal three-to-five-day inventory level has dropped below the two-day minimum.

It says several blood types are needed, including O-negative, which can be transfused into anyone.

Donors can call 1-800-933-2566 or visit the center’s website at www.nybloodcenter.org for more information.

The New York City medical examiner says the death of a Bronx man has been ruled an accidental drowning related to Tropical Storm Irene.

The body of 68-year-old Jose Sierra was pulled out of the water around 4:30 p.m. Sunday. It happened at Sunset Marina on City Island.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg defended his decision to order 370,000 residents to evacuate their homes in low-lying areas, saying it was impossible to know just how powerful the storm would be. “We were just unwilling to risk the life of a single New Yorker,” he said.

WCBS 880′s Rich Lamb: Bloomberg Says Better Safe Than Sorry

The mayor does admit he would do at least one thing differently.

“We, for example, had the Sanitation Department empty all of the street corner baskets, turn them upside down, and put them next to buildings. Some people, trying to be helpful said, ‘Oh, it’s not out there.” and they took it, turned it rightside up and put them in the corner. People then put trash in it and of course it got blown all over the place,” said Bloomberg.

Next time, he says they’ll put signs on the overturned trash cans.

Irene had at one time been a major hurricane, with winds higher than 110 mph as it headed toward the U.S. It was a tropical storm with 65 mph winds by the time it hit New York.

How did you weather the storm? Let us know below…

(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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