updated 7/5/2006 4:20:29 PM ET 2006-07-05T20:20:29

Heavy rains Wednesday morning flooded roadways and caused numerous accidents as late-returning holiday revelers merged with back-to-work commuters in a soggy traffic nightmare.

Drivers were forced onto side streets or to sit in miles of standstill traffic. Several people had to be pulled from vehicles that became stuck in the rapidly rising waters.

In Elizabeth, several highway underpasses were flooded, trapping vehicles including a school bus whose driver, assistant and two school-age passengers had to be helped out by the fire department.

Route 22 in Hillside was closed when more than 3 feet of water inundated the heavily traveled roadway. The highway also was flooded in Newark, and farther west in Mountainside.

Route 17 in East Rutherford also flooded.

The weather was believed to have contributed to several accidents around the state, including one on Route 80 in Parsippany in which a tractor-trailer overturned.

Additional rain, with heavy downpours possible, was expected throughout Wednesday.

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