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East Coast deluge includes elevator rescue

A conveyor belt of rain drenched the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic on Monday, adding to record-breaking precipitation that closed roads and triggered flood watches over the weekend.
Officials on Monday survey a sink hole in Staten Island, N.Y., that opened as the area was hit by a record rainfall on Sunday.Irving Silverstein / The Staten Island Advance via AP
/ Source: news services

A conveyor belt of rain drenched the Northeast and mid-Atlantic on Monday, adding to record-breaking precipitation that closed roads and triggered flood watches over the weekend.

Severe weather in the Northern Plains was also predicted, with flooding downpours, wind gusts greater than 60 miles per hour and large hail possible from the northern Rockies through the Dakotas and Northern Nebraska, said meteorologist Brian Edwards on

On the East Coast, rain that pummeled the area on Sunday continued into Monday. Flood watches were issued for New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, according to the National Weather Service.

A state of emergency was in effect Monday in Pittsgrove Township in Salem County, N.J., which has already received 11 inches of rain since the storm began on Sunday.

Fire engines were used there to evacuate two families from submerged homes, a dozen washed-out roads were closed and a dry lake was suddenly brimming.

That was after rainfall records were shattered across the area on Sunday, including at John F. Kennedy International Airport, which had its wettest day on record with 7.80 inches, smashing the 1984 record of 6.27 inches, said meteorologist Meghan Evans on

"Nearly twice the normal monthly rainfall was delivered in one day," Evans said of the New York City area.

Two New York City construction workers were rescued Sunday from a basement elevator that was flooding with sewer water. Officials say when firefighters arrived, the water was up to the men's necks.

In southern New Jersey, a dam on Seeley Lake broke Sunday, turning the normally mild Cohansey River into a raging threat racing through downtown Bridgeton.

"These waters were going at least 20, 30 miles per hour," said Martin Ruiz a maintenance worker for a realty company who spent Monday checking on basements of rental properties in Bridgeton. "There were big logs going through there."

The waters stayed a couple feet below the downtown flood walls — a lucky break for the city of Victorian buildings in an area where rain totals were around 11 inches Sunday.

An apartment complex for senior citizens, right by the river, was evacuated Sunday when there were fears river water was going to spill into the city.

Officials in Cumberland County reported that they made four water rescues Sunday.

Rain records were set throughout the mid-Atlantic on Sunday, including Newark with 6.4 inches (old record 1.1 inches set in 1999) and Philadelphia with 4.8 inches (1.7 inches in 1977).

On Monday, puddles resembling ponds swamped roadways across Staten Island and other New York boroughs, submerging cars, their roofs like turtles' backs barely peeking above the surface.

No major delays were reported at New York, New Jersey or Philadelphia airports.

In northern Ohio, a hospital closed Sunday because floodwater was getting into a room holding power distribution panels. The Sandusky Register reports patients were transferred.

Flooding was caused by the slow moving storm as well as parched soil from an otherwise dry summer, making it difficult for rainwater to easily penetrate the hard ground, weather experts said.

The weekend rains led to a roof collapse in Allentown, Pa., on Saturday night. Thirteen people were evacuated from the apartment building.

The downpours also washed out Sunday's final day of performances at the Musikfest music festival in Bethlehem, Pa. The losses there included African drums that were for sale and more than 1,000 kabobs that were to be sold as a fundraiser for Hogar Crea house, which treats young addicts.

"Basically, we lost everything — the food, the equipment, everything," Ivan Delvalle, director of treatment at Hogar Crea, told The Morning Call of Allentown. "The Musikfest fundraiser usually carries us through the winter. I'm not sure what we'll do."

There had also been flood watches in effect in the Washington, D.C., area on Sunday, and thunderstorms and heavy rains lashed parts of the region on Sunday night.