While downed trees, limbs and power lines were evident throughout Newport News, there weren't issues with flooding Sunday morning, according to city spokeswoman Karen Gill.
Newport News Public Schools and offices will be closed Monday, but there will be regular trash collection. The city did again implement a curfew from 11 p.m. Sunday to 5 a.m. Monday.
About half of Dominion Virginia Power's 90,000 customers in Newport News didn't have power as of early Sunday evening.
At 3 p.m., there were downed power lines on Crittenden Lane and on Madison Lane at Tree X Road, and a fallen tree laid across the Kiln Creek Golf Course.
City Line Apartment drying out
The City Line Apartments in Newport News, so often flooded during past heavy rainstorms, escaped with light damage. Peerless Carpet Care and Restoration was called in to pump water from or dry floors of about 100 units at City Line, but Austin Gilliam, a Peerless employee, described the damage as minimal.
City Line residents said the mandatory evacuation of the complex on Friday is one reason the apartments suffered less damage than in the past.
"There were no cars coming in to push water inside," said Janice Bullock, a resident of City Line for 11 years who returned home Sunday morning. "That's why things are as good as they are.
"This is good compared to past storms. The rug at my door was soaking wet when I came back home (Sunday morning), but that was all."
Tree destroys home
Vickie Vaughan had never heard anything quite like it.
"It was awful," she said. "It was like a bomb going off."
Two bombs, actually.
Both turned out to be poplar trees crashing into their tri-level home on Ferguson Cove in Newport News -- one on the left side, the other on the right about two and a half hours later.
Home alone with her pets, she was unharmed. Which, when you examine the devastation caused after Irene supposedly had left town, is a miracle.
"Isabel didn't do anything but rip up the deck, so I wasn't expecting this," she said in Sunday afternoon's sunshine. "It scared the crap out of me. But I'm blessed, neither me nor the pets were harmed."
Vaughan's husband, Gene Gill, is employed with Newport News Public Works and had been on the job since 7 a.m. He showed Vickie how to start the generator, and sure enough the power went off. Around 11 p.m., the worst of it seemingly passed, she was watching television when a tree hit the top floor.
"After that, I thought the middle floor would be OK, but I don't know," said Vaughan, a counselor at Hampton High. "Call it divine intervention, but something told me I needed to get myself and the cats to the lower floor."
The second hit was directly above the refrigerator. Their home was declared uninhabitable.
"I'm going to have to get a hotel room," Gill said. "She's going to stay with her sister."
Gill hated that he wasn't home when it happened.
"It's frustrating," he said. "But that's how the job is."
More tree damage
This will teach you to never taunt the elements.
Shortly before midnight, Jean Trant and her daughter, Brooke Timmons, were certain the worst of the storm was over.
"We had the windows open and there was nothing," Trant said. "You could hear the crickets. I never heard a thing."
Irene, they concluded, was all talk.
"It wasn't nearly as much as Isabel," Timmons said.
Then came Sunday morning. Trant's father told her one of their trees was blocking their street -- Crittenden Lane, off Hiden. the road. When she opened the front door, she saw that it had taken down a power line and ripped the meter box from their house. Yellow police tape to divert traffic had already been put in place.
"The first thing I thought was, I need to call somebody," Trant said. "But there's no phone."
Before the tree can be moved, Virginia Power has to come out to make certain it's safe.
A 200-foot span of No. 4 solid copper wire fell to the ground during the storm, causing power outages near Buxton Ave. and 19 St., just off of Chesapeake Blvd. in Newport News. A Dominion Virginia Power employee working at the site said that the wire was reportedly stolen for the copper.
"Stupid," he said of handling a downed power lines. "Their ignorance will kill them."
Power outages were widespread throughout the East End, but many areas escaped without serious physical damage. Bernard Gupton, whose Maple Street home just off of Chesapeake Blvd., said that other than the power outages, he was not aware of any damage in the neighborhood.
"During Isabel, the waves went two feet over the sea wall (on Chesapeake Blvd.) and flooded the streets over the curbs," he said. "This time the waves were just spraying the streets."
As in Gupton's neighborhood, many in Christopher Shores were without power. But, other than downed branches, there was little evidence on those East End streets of Irene.
"It was really not much more than a bunch of wind and leaves blowing around," neighborhood resident R.J. Smith said.
Downed trees in Riverside
At least 10 large trees were downed on two-block stretch on Selden Road in the Riverside section of Newport News, blocking access to several homes, and leaving power lines strewed on the ground.
Although the trees, which ranged from 70 to 100 feet, lay strewn across the neighborhood, somehow only one home was significantly damaged.
"We were pretty relieved when it was all over," said Brian Hubbard, who was working with his wife, Anna, his son and a friend to clean up debris Sunday afternoon.
He and his wife sat on their second-story porch sipping cocktails when as a large oak tree crashed down on their nearby garage Saturday evening.
"It was kind of like slow motion," Anna Hubbard said. "I started screaming."
The damage was minor; they lost only some facing on their two-car garage, along with a gutter.
When that tree went down, it also uprooted a 100-foot-tall gum tree that fell in another direction. Its mass was caught by a loblolly pine, where it remained precariously dangling over a vacant house on Sunday afternoon.
Charles Outlaw, who lives across the street, said the falling trees produced "probably the loudest crack I've ever heard."
Carl Brakman, another resident of Selden Drive, lost a white oak in his back yard. Surveying the damage with his neighbors on Sunday, Brakman said: "I don't think we could survive a Category 2." His neighbors agreed.
On James River Drive, a 100-foot loblolly pine that fell around midnight Saturday had not been cleared as of late Sunday afternoon.
Paul Skopic lost three dogwoods, two camellias and a stand of azaleas in the incident.
He and other neighbors said they contacted the city of Newport News on several occasions over the last two years with concerns about the tree, which had been leaning across the street.
"The arborist came out and said it was fine," Skopic said. "This has been an accident waiting to happing for a long time and the city just let this go."
"You could just hear them cracking, probably the loudest crack I've ever heard," said Charles Outlaw, who was inside his two-story home at the time.
Outlaw, who lost six trees during Isabel in 2003, worked Sunday afternoon to clean debris from his yard. His power had been out for more than 24 hours.
Some residents speculated that the damage was caused by a microburst or a tornado.
Early morning cleanup
Hurricane Irene was a welcome change of pace for Dennis Mook.
Mook, Newport News' former police chief who retired seven years ago after 30-plus years in law enforcement, spent the last two major hurricanes to impact the area – Floyd and Isabel – working. On Sunday morning, he was otherwise engaged, focused on the tripod he set up to take pictures of the roiling James River at the Hilton Elementary School playground.
"I always worked the storms, and now I don't," said Mook, whose said his home in the Hiden Boulevard area weathered the storm well. "All those years of telling people what to do, I figured my wife and I should be prepared."
Mook has been a shutterbug for 41 of his 59 years and publishes his photos on his website, dennismook.com. He said he tried to photograph the river on Saturday, but an easterly wind left the water disappointingly calm. The winds' shift to the west on Sunday gave the water more "character," Mook said.
Around Hilton Village, residents walked their dogs and cleared downed limbs from their lawns. A section of River Road in front of Hilton Elementary School was cordoned off because of a heavy scattering of limbs and other debris, a common sight on secondary roads early Sunday morning.
Warwick Boulevard was fairly clear from 75th Street to the intersection at J. Clyde Morris, where the rare sight of a working stoplight greeted the handful of motorists about. On down Museum Drive, a large tree was uprooted near the entrance to the Mariners' Museum, but the newly installed light poles at Christopher Newport's POMOCO Stadium stood tall with no visible signs of damage.
Via Twitter, the Virginia Living Museum posted a help wanted notice saying: "Physically strong and capable persons to help remove tree sections from VLM outdoor habitats."
At Warwick High, one of two Newport News city shelters, assistant manager Shardell Gerald said more than 200 people spend the night.
"Everything is running as smoothly as it can possibly be," Gerald said.
The shelter is the only city one to accept pets, and a man walked his beagle near the high school track.
Gerald said some people had already left the shelter by 7 a.m.
Staff writers Dave Johnson, Peter Frost, Marty O'Brien, Nicole Paitsel and Melinda Waldrop contributed to this report.