TRENTON, N.J. – Floodwaters swirled through low-lying communities and evacuated residents waited for rivers to crest early Tuesday as a deadly spring storm lingered in the Northeast for a third day.
The nor'easter left a huge 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 was blamed for at least 15 deaths nationwide.
The storm dumped up to 9 inches of rain on parts of New Jersey on Monday, and more than 8 inches fell on New York City's Central Park, quadrupling the 101-year-old record for the date.
New Jersey was placed under a state of emergency and more than 1,400 residents were evacuated — many by boat.
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The storm was especially harsh in Bound Brook, where five homes burned down after fire crews could not reach the buildings because of floodwaters.
The Raritan River was more than 10 feet above flood stage in Bound Brook late Monday and was not expected to return to 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. They sought shelter at the Presbyterian Church of Bound Brook, where more than 100 cots were set up.
"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 Hurricane Floyd in 1999.
In New Hampshire, more than 5,000 people were evacuated from 13 communities and more than 400 roads were closed because of flooding, Gov. John Lynch said. A mudslide blocked the state's main east-west route.
Winds blew loose the boards protecting oceanfront windows at Hampton Beach, shattering windows and flinging merchandise into the street. Waves crashed over the sea wall at high tide. Residents reported up to 5 feet of water gushing into their front doors.
"We went to look, but the wind was so strong that you couldn't walk," said Linda Pepin of Bristol, Conn., who owns a second-floor condominium less than 50 feet from the shore.
Snow fell in inland areas, including 17 inches in Vermont. Wind gusts to more than 80 mph toppled trees on highways in Maine, and snow drifts stranded tractor-trailers on highways in Pennsylvania. Washouts, flooding, mudslides and fallen trees blocked roads from Kentucky to New England.
Amtrak's Downeaster suspended service in Maine because tracks were washed out in Berwick. Flooding delayed or canceled Amtrak service between Boston and Washington. And New Jersey Transit said morning commuters could expect delays and cancellations for a second straight day on Tuesday.
New York had activated 3,200 National Guard members to help with evacuations. New Hampshire and New Jersey also sent Guardsmen to hard-hit towns, while the Connecticut National Guard supplied amphibious vehicles to the hard-hit southwestern part of the state.
Suburbs north of New York City were among the hardest hit. Mamaroneck resident Nicholas Staropoli said a truck near his home "actually floated up on the riverbank."
In Maine, a woman and her 4-year-old granddaughter died when they were swept into a river by the fast-moving floodwaters as they tried to cross a washed-out section of road in Lebanon, near the New Hampshire line, the Maine Warden Service reported. Rescuers pulled two people from the Little River, but they were pronounced dead at a hospital.
A man died in a car stalled in deep water in an underpass in New Jersey, while another drowned in a flooded street. Another person was killed by a tornado in South Carolina, and three died in car accidents — one in upstate New York, one in Connecticut and one in North Carolina. The same storm was blamed for five deaths earlier in Texas and Kansas.
The storm was expected to turn into the worst of its kind since the December 1992 nor'easter that caused millions of dollars worth of damage to buildings, boardwalks and beaches.
There was no immediate sign of a letup. The National Weather Service predicted the storm would stall over New York City before starting to move out to sea Wednesday.