The receding water eased the flooding and revealed more damage to homes, farms and businesses. Repair estimates indicated that the storm would almost certainly rank among the nation's costliest natural disasters, despite packing a lighter punch than initially feared.
President Barack Obama planned to travel on Sunday to the northern New Jersey town of Paterson, where a rain-swollen river split the town in two.
It could be days before those evacuated during the storm can return home.
The problem now is that much of the damage from Irene may not be covered by insurance because many policies do not cover flooding.
Irene has been blamed for at least 45 deaths in the U.S., plus one in Puerto Rico and seven more in the Dominican Republic and Haiti.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.