Storm lingers in Northeast; towns start cleanup

The remains of a shorefront road lay on the beach Tuesday near homes destroyed by a severe nor'easter that lashed the East Coast in the Ferry Beach section of Saco, Maine.
The remains of a shorefront road lay on the beach Tuesday near homes destroyed by a severe nor'easter that lashed the East Coast in the Ferry Beach section of Saco, Maine. Robert F. Bukaty / AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

Floodwater still swirled through low-lying communities Tuesday after a deadly spring storm swept the Northeast, but commuters and air travelers swept an easier time.

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 the storm system was blamed for at least 17 deaths nationwide.

While some towns were starting the cleanup Tuesday, authorities in Nashua, N.H., began evacuating a town house development in an area where the Nashua and Merrimack rivers converge. Dozens, if not hundreds, of people were affected there, deputy Fire Chief Steve Gallipeau said.

More than 170,000 utility customers were without power Tuesday in North Carolina. Utilities in New Hampshire, where 30,000 were still without power, 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 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, 7½ inches, quadrupled the 101-year-old record for April 15.

‘I was expecting worse’
Showers lingered Tuesday and forecasters said the system wouldn’t move out entirely for another day or more. Flood warnings remained posted in parts of New Jersey and eastern New York.

But the Port Authority said the New York area’s airports, where about 600 flights had been canceled, were operating normally on Tuesday.

At the baseball-theme Homeplate Restaurant in Mamaroneck, N.Y., water rose 3 feet inside, but owner Fred Santiago held out hope he could reopen soon, even as he dumped ruined tables and chairs out on the sidewalk.

“I was expecting worse, to tell you the truth,” Santiago said Tuesday. “Maybe I’m in a state of shock, but I think we can do this. I’m not a quitter.”

Residents view the damage done to two homes destroyed by a severe nor'easter that lashed the East Coast, Tuesday, April 17, 2007, in the Ferry Beach section of Saco, Maine. The homes are on the verge of being swept into the ocean. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)Robert F. Bukaty / AP

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.

‘I can’t take it after this one’
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.

“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 remnants of Hurricane Floyd in 1999.

New Jersey Transit, where disruptions were particularly severe Monday, trains were running close to schedule Tuesday but they were skipping some flooding stations. A section of the New Jersey Turnpike near Newark Liberty Airport remained closed.

In Providence, R.I., a 1950s-era Soviet submarine used as a floating museum in the Providence River was listing Tuesday. Russian Sub Museum President Frank Lennon said the storm’s extreme high tide and winds pushed the submarine onto a shoal.

Powerful ocean waves at Saco, Maine, washed away a road, crumpled the seawall and turned front lawns into beaches. At least two houses tumbled over as their foundations gave way.

Storm turns deadly
At the height of the storm, snow fell in inland areas, including 17 inches in Vermont. Snowdrifts stranded tractor-trailers on highways in Pennsylvania, and washouts, mudslides and fallen trees blocked roads from Kentucky to New England.

Amtrak suspended some service in Maine for a second day Tuesday because tracks were washed out.

The storm was expected among the worst since a December 1992 nor’easter caused millions of dollars worth of damage to buildings, boardwalks and beaches.

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

In New Jersey, a man died in a car stalled in deep water in an underpass while another drowned in a flooded street. Another person was killed by a tornado in South Carolina, and four died in car accidents in upstate New York, Connecticut and North Carolina. The same storm system was blamed for five deaths earlier in Texas and Kansas.