Floods Force Evacuations in Northeast

Flooding forced thousands of people from their homes Monday in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York and closed the New Jersey Statehouse, and some streams were still rising.

No deaths or injuries were reported after a weekend of torrential rain, but acting Gov. Richard J. Codey (search) estimated that property damage would approach $30 million, about the amount caused by remnants of Hurricane Ivan (search) last September.

"The Delaware River is calling the shots right now," said state police Superintendent Col. Joseph "Rick" Fuentes. The river was expected to crest Monday but many evacuees were not expected to return home for days.

Three people were missing Monday in eastern New York state. And the same weekend storm system that drove rivers out of their banks with torrential rain piled more than 2 feet of snow on southwestern New York and northwestern Pennsylvania.

Codey had declared a state of emergency on Sunday and barred nonessential state workers from Trenton on Monday. Water was 6 feet deep in the bottom level of the Statehouse parking garage, just yards from the Delaware River (search).

Small bridges across the Delaware north of Trenton were closed, as were some highways.

New Jersey reported 3,500 evacuees, including 1,800 from Mercer County, which includes Trenton.

"It's fair to say that, in the best-case scenario, Wednesday night some houses may be available, but it's probably going to be Thursday or Friday" before many are able to return, said Brian Hughes, Mercer County executive.

On the west bank of the Delaware River, residents and business owners in Easton, Pa., waded through waist-deep water Monday to assess the damage to their property.

Many streams in central and eastern Pennsylvania rose out of their banks, but communities along the Delaware got the worst of it.

"It was like someone was taking a squeegee and just pushing the water forward," said Bertram King, 20, one of about 15 people evacuated from a homeless shelter in Easton.

Farther upstream on the Delaware, about 800 people were evacuated from their homes Sunday in Port Jervis, N.Y., at the point where the three states meet. At least 100 of them spent the night at Port Jervis High School. And at Cincinnatus, N.Y., about 20 miles east of Cortland, the Otselic River flooded a nursing home, forcing out about 35 residents.

High water also closed roads and several schools in eastern New York's Hudson Valley.

Police in Deposit, N.Y., near the Pennsylvania line, resumed a search Monday for two men whose van was swept away by a creek on Sunday. To the southeast, in Ulster County, a 57-year-old woman was swept away by high water and remained missing Monday.

Farther west, the storm's precipitation fell as snow.

Residents of southwest New York's Chautauqua County were digging out Monday from as much as 26 inches of wet, heavy snow. Several thousand utility customers lost electricity in the area south of Buffalo, N.Y., because the dense, sticky snow snapped power lines.

In nearby Erie County, Pa., 19 inches of snow fell at Waterford and Corry got 14. Hundreds of motorists were stranded for hours Sunday on a 22-mile stretch of Interstate 90 between Erie and the New York line.

About 26,000 customers had no power Monday in Erie County and many weren't expected to be back in service until Tuesday.

Parts of the area have had about 7 inches of rain in the last 30 days, with most of it since March 23, said David A. Robinson, the New Jersey state climatologist. "In the last two weeks, we've had more than a month and a half of rainfall, with some snow melt in there," he said.