MOREHEAD CITY, North Carolina (Reuters) - Hurricane Irene charged up the U.S. East Coast on Saturday toward New York, shutting down the city, and millions of Americans sought shelter from a huge storm that halted transport and caused massive power blackouts.
"The storm is coming," New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg told the more than 8 million people who live in the United States' most populous city that includes Wall Street, one of the world's major financial centers.
From the Carolinas to Maine, tens of millions of people were in the path of the giant 580-mile-wide storm that howled ashore in eastern North Carolina at daybreak on Saturday, dumping torrential rain, felling trees and knocking out power.
At least six deaths were reported in North Carolina, Virginia and Florida. Several million people were under evacuation orders on the U.S. East Coast.
New York City ordered unprecedented evacuations and shut down its airports and subways, part of a huge public transit system that moves 8.5 million people a day on weekdays. Commuters were left to flag down yellow taxis and livery cabs that were patrolling largely deserted streets.
Irene caused transport chaos in the eastern United States, as airline, rail and transit systems in New York and other cities started sweeping weekend shutdowns.