Homeowners Across The East Pick Up The Pieces, Throw Out Ruined Belongings After Flood Damage

Tuesday, April 17th 2007, 7:00 pm
By: News On 6

MAMARONECK, N.Y. (AP) _ As the floodwaters receded Tuesday homeowners picked through ruined belongings and priceless keepsakes trying to determine what they'd lost.

Hundreds of thousands were still without power from Maine to North Carolina and nearly many residents Bound Brook, N.J., were still barred of their homes Tuesday as flooding persisted from the spring nor'easter that has claimed at least 17 lives.

In Mamaroneck, described by Gov. Eliot Spitzer as the ``the epicenter of the damage done here in the state,'' discarded belongings damaged by the flooded Sheldrake River lined an avenue.

Trash in the middle-class neighborhood included refrigerators, stoves, mattresses, dressers, a karaoke machine, even a 30-gallon aquarium somehow ruined by water.

An upright piano, its veneer peeling, made only off-key noises when its warped keys were pounded.

``I've been collecting this stuff since I was 14,'' said Robert Jackson, 39, a disc jockey, as he poked through his trove of old record albums, including some 78 rpm platters and many disco-era albums. Like his deejay equipment, the records had been submerged when the water reached 5 feet high in his basement.

A few blocks away on Mamaroneck Avenue, the village's main road, merchants were assessing the damage caused by 6.75 inches of rain and floodwaters from the Sheldrake and Mamaroneck rivers that reached as high as 5 feet in their stores.

Vincent Marconi, owner of Tri-City Auto Parts, said the store lost $75,000 in equipment, including all its computers and cash register. Flood insurance had been too expensive, he said.

``You work your whole life and you find something like this,'' Marconi said. ``It's an emotional roller coaster. Now you have to fight your way back.''

In New Jersey, electricity had been shut off to the low-lying central community of Bound Brook _ which received 9 inches of rain _ and the stench of heating oil from flooded basements hung in the air.

Nearly 1,000 residents were still barred from their homes until crews could determine the structures were safe, said Hal Dietrich, Bound Brook's emergency management coordinator.

``If they go in too soon and turn something on that's not right, they could kill themselves,'' Dietrich said. ``We lost four houses during the flood that caught fire and burned to the ground because we couldn't get the fire trucks to them through the water.''

More than a quarter-million customers were without power Tuesday afternoon in North Carolina, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, and Vermont. A spokeswoman for Central Vermont Public Service warned that some homes could be in the dark through Saturday.

``This is one of the most devastating storms the company has seen in our 77-year history,'' spokeswoman Christine Rivers said. ``It's hurricane-like damage.''

At York Beach in Maine, seaweed littered the sidewalks and a large Coast Guard bell buoy lay on the beach, ripped from its mooring.

``We're used to this by now,'' said Joe Lipton, owner of Inn on the Blues. ``We just say, 'Bring it on.' There's nothing you can do.''

Service Amtrak's Downeaster, which runs from Portland to Boston, was canceled for a second day Tuesday with part of the track washed out.

A 50-year-old woman and her 4-year-old granddaughter died as they tried to cross a washed-out section of road in Maine. A 15-year-old girl died Monday night after a canoe overturned outside Albany, N.Y.

In New York's northern suburbs, a man was killed by a falling tree while another died in a fire as street flooding delayed firefighters.

The same storm system was blamed for 12 deaths earlier in upstate New York, New Jersey, South Carolina, North Carolina, Texas and Kansas.

A separate set of storms brought tornadoes, heavy rains and hail near Lubbock, Texas. No injuries and only minor damage were reported from the tornadoes that developed in the early afternoon, the National Weather Service said.