Video: Raging water sweeps through New Jersey

  1. Closed captioning of: Raging water sweeps through New Jersey

    >>> right now coming out of patterson, new jersey. we're looking at the after effects of what has been a very wet week. flooding is a significant issue there. it will be for the next several days all along this area. you know, it's an area along the passaic river , as well, that's of concern. what we're looking at is back-to-back major rain events that have saturated the ground. the ground can only absorb so much water. you can see around what used to be streets in these live pictures from the chopper cam that they are no longer streets of pavement. they are rivers. they are small tributaries, getting one place to another earlier in the week, we even saw people then trying to get into their house using rubber boats. that continues to be a problem. we'll watch the effects of what we believe to be the passaic river as it's hit high points based on the rain and the after effects. even though today is a very, very dry day. in fact, sunny. so perhaps some respite on these coming downs. look at this picture as we zoom in through our chopper cam. that really giving you a sense of how much water has been funneled into that -- that main tributary there that runs down this city of patterson in new jersey. now overflowing and hitting the bottom of this overpass. these are concerns as we continue to watch the aftereffects of what was a very wet couple of days.

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updated 3/12/2011 12:45:59 PM ET 2011-03-12T17:45:59

Anxious officials from Maryland to Maine were closely monitoring swollen rivers and other waterways that were expected to overflow their banks early Saturday, causing more hardships for communities where major flooding forced hundreds of people from their homes.

Forecasters warned that the worst was yet to come for many areas, especially parts of flood-prone northern New Jersey that were already under water after a storm that dropped as much as 5 inches of rain in some areas from Thursday afternoon through Friday morning. That came just days after most of the same areas — which are emerging from a snow-filled winter — were flooded by another round of heavy rains.

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And while the water was not expected to recede in some spots for a few days, there was one positive sign: The National Weather Service said no major rains were expected there for several days, giving those areas a chance to dry out once the waterways drop back below flood levels.

But that provided little relief for residents who had to be evacuated from their homes and spent the night in shelters, or those who spent most of Friday getting water out their basements and trying to salvage items damaged by the rising waters.

'You cannot pump the river'
In Woodland Park, N.J., Mel Sivri was watching the Passaic River. He hung his daughters' pink bicycles and other items from ceiling hooks in the garage while an industrial pump cleared 4 inches of water from the floor.

"You cannot pump the river," he said. "You just have to wait for it to go down."

Residents in several mid-Atlantic states were forced to flee their homes due to the rising waters, and more could be forced out on Saturday.

Image: Scott Kibrick in Elmsford, N.Y.
Jason DeCrow  /  AP
Wading through waist-deep water, Scott Kibrick, of Hopewell Junction, N.Y., retrieves items from the flooded office of the cab company he owns on Friday in Elmsford, N.Y.

In Greenburgh, N.Y., north of New York City, Jessica Dontona was home with her 7-year-old daughter, Samantha, to check on the house. They had decamped in the middle of the night for a hotel as the basement filled with water.

The flood made her think about moving.

"You know, living high on a hill is starting to look really good," she said.

New York state from Manhattan to the Canadian border was under a flood watch as heavy rains and melting snow closed roads. And there were major concerns in New England that rising waters could break up river ice, creating ice jams that can cause flooding.

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The Coast Guard said its units in Maine would begin icebreaking Saturday on the Kennebec River and continue through Tuesday to reduce the risk of property damage.

Pa. levees put to the test
Forecasters also warned that the Susquehanna River in northeastern Pennsylvania could rise as much as 8 feet over flood stage by Saturday near Wilkes-Barre. The city has a levee system to protect it, but low-lying areas downriver already had some minor flooding on Friday.

Meanwhile, police in Pittsburgh had set up detours for revelers coming into the city for Saturday morning's St. Patrick's Day parade. The detours are to help motorists avoid low-lying sections of Interstate 376 along the Monongahela, which was expected to flood by Saturday morning.

Story: 83 rescued after floating restaurant breaks loose

The flooding was also blamed for at least two deaths.

A 74-year-old Pennsylvania man's car was swept into Swatara Creek on Thursday in Pine Grove, about 75 miles northwest of Philadelphia. And a woman drowned in Ohio on Friday after getting out of her car in a ditch in Williams County.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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