Deadly Storm Lingers In Northeast

Tuesday, April 17th 2007, 7:22 am
By: News On 6

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) _ Floodwaters swirled through low-lying communities but commuters had an easier time Tuesday as remnants of a deadly spring storm lingered in the Northeast for a third day.

The nor'easter left a swath of devastation from the beaches of South Carolina to the mountains of Maine. It knocked out power to hundreds of thousands of people and was blamed for at least 16 deaths nationwide.

More than 170,000 utility customers were without power in North Carolina alone. Utilities in New Hampshire said repairs were going slowly because of continued flooding, washed-out roads and the storm's broad reach, which meant other utilities couldn't send spare crews to help.

The Port Authority said the New York area's airports were operating normally on Tuesday, a day after about 600 flights were canceled.

The storm dumped up to 9 inches of rain on parts of New Jersey, and more than 8 inches fell in New York City's Central Park. The park's Sunday total, 7 1/2 inches, quadrupled the 101-year-old record for April 15.

Showers lingered Tuesday and forecasters said the system wouldn't move out entirely for another day. Flood warnings remained posted in parts of New Jersey and eastern New York.

New Jersey was placed under a state of emergency and more than 1,400 residents were evacuated _ many by boat. Acting Gov. Richard J. Codey said he expects the state to qualify for federal assistance to recover from the storm.

``We're going to well exceed it (the federal aid threshold), without question,'' Codey said.

The storm was especially harsh in Bound Brook, where five homes burned down after fire crews could not reach the buildings because of floodwaters.

The Raritan River was more than 10 feet above flood stage in Bound Brook late Monday and was not expected to drop below flood stage before Tuesday afternoon. The river overran Route 18 in New Brunswick, forcing Rutgers University to cancel Tuesday classes at its New Brunswick and Piscataway campuses.

Dale Johnson said he and his girlfriend fled their second-story apartment through swirling, waist-deep water. They sought shelter at the Presbyterian Church of Bound Brook, where more than 100 cots were set up.

``I want to move out. I can't take it after this one,'' said Johnson, 48, noting that it was his third evacuation. The community also was hard hit by Hurricane Floyd in 1999.

New Jersey Transit, particularly hard-hit during Monday's commute, had trains running close to schedule Tuesday but trains were skipping certain stations because of flooding. A section of the New Jersey Turnpike near Newark Liberty Airport remained closed.

In New York's Orange County, where hundreds of residents had been forced from their homes, some roads remained closed Tuesday morning.

In New Hampshire, more than 5,000 people were evacuated from 13 communities and more than 400 roads were closed because of flooding, Gov. John Lynch said. A mudslide blocked the state's main east-west route.

Winds blew loose the boards protecting oceanfront windows at Hampton Beach, shattering windows and flinging merchandise into the street. Waves crashed over the sea wall at high tide. Residents reported up to 5 feet of water gushing into their front doors.

``We went to look, but the wind was so strong that you couldn't walk,'' said Linda Pepin of Bristol, Conn., who owns a second-floor condominium less than 50 feet from the shore.

Snow fell in inland areas, including 17 inches in Vermont. Wind gusts to more than 80 mph toppled trees on highways in Maine, and snowdrifts stranded tractor-trailers on highways in Pennsylvania. Washouts, flooding, mudslides and fallen trees blocked roads from Kentucky to New England.

Amtrak's Downeaster suspended service in Maine because tracks were washed out. Flooding delayed or canceled Amtrak service between Boston and Washington.

New York had activated 3,200 National Guard members to help with evacuations. New Hampshire and New Jersey also sent Guardsmen to hard-hit towns, while the Connecticut National Guard supplied amphibious vehicles to the southwestern part of the state.

In Maine, a woman and her 4-year-old granddaughter died when they were swept into a river by the fast-moving floodwaters as they tried to cross a washed-out section of road in Lebanon, near the New Hampshire line, the Maine Warden Service reported.

A 15-year-old girl died Monday night after a canoe overturned on a creek outside Albany, N.Y. A man died in a car stalled in deep water in an underpass in New Jersey, while another drowned in a flooded street. Another person was killed by a tornado in South Carolina, and three died in car accidents in upstate New York, Connecticut and North Carolina. The same storm was blamed for five deaths earlier in Texas and Kansas.

Runners in the Boston marathon Monday had to compete amid moderate rain and wind that made the final homestretch to Copley Square a particular challenge.

The storm was expected to turn into the worst of its kind since the December 1992 nor'easter that caused millions of dollars worth of damage to buildings, boardwalks and beaches.