A photo provided by the New York State Metropolitan Transportation Authority shows an MTA employee filling an ''Aqua Dam'' across the Long Island Rail Road tracks at New York City’s Penn Station.

The temporary barrier was installed to help keep flood waters stirred up by Hurricane Irene out of Penn Station’s tunnels.

"We just came to see how few people are in Times Square and then we're going back," said Cheryl Gibson, who was vacationing in the city and had planned to go to the other side of the Hudson River.

"We can't get to New Jersey and I'm not sure it's any better there," she said.

One man died of a heart attack while boarding up his house.

In New Smyrna Beach, Florida, a surfer riding large waves kicked up by Irene was killed, local media reported.

North Carolina Governor Perdue said there could be "a major hit" to tobacco crops, poultry and livestock in her state.

Summer vacationers fled beach towns and resort islands.Emergency workers were mindful of Hurricane Katrina, which swamped New Orleans, killed up to 1800 people and caused billion (NZ.2b) in damage in 2005.US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta said the military stood ready to help.In Washington, the skies were dark in the late afternoon as winds picked up and torrential rain formed pools of water in streets.Traffic died down and only a small handful of tourists dressed in rain gear gathered outside the White House.One of two people rescued from a sailboat (right) uses a line to make their way onto the beach on Willoughby Spit in Norfolk, Virginia after they, and another person, were rescued from the boat that foundered in the waters of the Chesapeake Bay.