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By CHRIS KAHN, / AP Energy Writer / Aug 28, 7:16 AM EDT.
About three million homes and businesses were without power at dawn Sunday as Hurricane Irene continued to roar up the East Coast and bored down on the New York City area and New England.
Winds of up to 115 miles per hour whipped across the Eastern Seaboard, ripping power lines from poles and snapping trees in half. Hospitals, emergency call centers and other crucial facilities were holding up, but officials said it could get much worse as Irene churns north.
More than one million of the homes and businesses without power were in Virginia and North Carolina, which bore the brunt of Irene's initial march. Then the storm knocked out power overnight to hundreds of thousands in Washington, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and Connecticut.
More than 480,000 New York City and suburban homes and businesses had lost power as the hurricane took aim at the metropolitan area.
Officials in southern and mid-Atlantic states had warned of mass power outages, with some recalling the destructive Hurricane Isabel in 2003, and their predictions were confirmed after Irene moved over North Carolina as a Category 1 storm early Saturday.