WASHINGTON – Heavy rain drenched the mid-Atlantic region Monday, knocking out power to tens of thousands of customers, flooding roads and chasing people out of their homes.
Up to 5 inches of rain fell across the region from Sunday afternoon into Monday, with another half-inch possible in some areas.
"(It's) possibly the worst flooding that I've seen since Hurricane Isabel in '03," said Steven Marshall, director of the Department of Emergency Services in Somerset County, Md.
Strong wind and saturated soil brought down trees and cut power to homes and businesses throughout the region.
Numerous roads were closed because of high water and firefighters reported calls from stranded motorists and some boaters who had to be rescued.
A sinkhole up to 30 feet wide and 10 feet deep led to the evacuation of three homes in Camp Springs, said Mark Brady, a Prince George's County fire department spokesman. The porch of one home collapsed into the hole.
Along the Delaware coast, residents of several communities in Kent County were evacuated Monday because of flooding. National Guard troop carriers capable of driving through 6 feet of water rescued trapped residents. Flood warnings in the region were extended through early Tuesday.
About 30 people in Bowers, Del., fled to a fire station, with dozens of others seeking refuge elsewhere, said Willie Trowbridge, president of the town's fire department.
"We still have some people in their houses who have refused to leave," he said.
A Coast Guard helicopter crew rescued two men Monday morning from a private research ship that was breaking up and taking on water about 14 miles off the coast of Rehoboth Beach, Del.
The ship, named after a former Delaware governor, was christened in Wilmington just six weeks ago and was being used for the study migratory bird routes by a company trying to win state approval for an offshore wind farm.
Utilities reported 50,000 customers without power in Maryland, nearly 50,000 in New Jersey, more than 23,000 in Delaware, 16,000 in Virginia and 4,500 in the District of Columbia. Power already had been restored to many of those customers by early afternoon.
Farther up the coast, wind and rain caused average delays of up to 2 1/2 hours for flights heading into New York's three major airports.
Strong wind also contributed to a fatal fire Monday morning in Newark, N.J., fanning flames of a blaze that killed a 50-year-old man, damaged three buildings and left 35 people homeless.
The foul weather prevented the resumption of a Coast Guard search for a female passenger who fell overboard from a cruise ship northeast of Atlantic City, N.J., on Sunday night. The Norwegian Dawn was headed for Bermuda from New York City when the passenger fell.
Weather service meteorologist Lee Robertson said the storm differs from a nor'easter because it is a combination of two weather systems, one from the Ohio Valley that contributed to weekend tornadoes and a second from just south of the Delmarva region of Delaware.