Flood Warnings in Effect Across Northeast

Steady rain fell Thursday around the already saturated Northeast, swamping roads, stalling airline passengers and sending streams and rivers over their banks.

Flood warnings covered parts of Connecticut, New York and New Jersey, and a handful of New Jersey communities issued voluntary evacuations. More areas may face evacuations as water levels continue to rise during the day, officials warned.

Northern New Jersey has seen as much as 4.5 inches of rain in 48 hours, and the National Weather Service predicted that some areas of the state could get as much as 2 inches more by Friday.

The storm followed a weekend deluge that dumped about 5 inches of rain across the state and as much as 10 inches in a few spots.

In New York City's Central Park, close to an inch of rain had already fallen by midmorning Thursday, on top of the 4.26 inches that fell Wednesday, breaking the date's previous record of 3.4 inches, set in 1983.

Water covered dozens of highways and roads, and incoming flights at two of the New York area's three major airports had delays of more than 90 minutes.

New Jersey activated its emergency management office on Thursday morning, preparing high-water rescue vehicle and swift-boat rescue teams as a precaution.

In northeastern New Jersey, the Ramapo River was already past the major flood stage of 13 feet at Pompton Lakes and was expected to reach 16 feet by early Friday. The Passaic River also was approaching major flood stage.

About 30 miles south, the Raritan River was being closely watched in Bound Brook and Manville, where flooding from Tropical Storm Floyd in 1999 proved devastating.

The river appeared to have crested at 29 feet, 4 feet less than forecasters had feared, but evacuation could still be needed if heavy rain continued into the afternoon and evening, said Leroy Gunzelman III, Somerset County's emergency management director.

Bound Brook was among the northern New Jersey towns that issued voluntary evacuations overnight and Thursday morning. Families were already returning home in some spots, county emergency officials said.

In Greenwich, Conn., officials declared a local state of emergency Wednesday night as water behind dams on the Byram River rose to high levels, said First Selectman James Lash. Residents were warned to prepare to leave, but the water then receded and evacuations were not necessary, Lash said.

Since the rain began, at least three people died in floodwater in New Hampshire and four others remain missing. The National Weather Service canceled a flood watch for that state but said the already saturated area could see 3 to 6 inches of rain in the next few days.

Alstead, a town of 2,000 in southwestern New Hampshire, suffered the most damage from the weekend flooding. At least 12 homes were washed away and dozens more were damaged heavily, and authorities said damage would reach the tens of millions of dollars.