Us

Northeast slowly dries out from wind-whipped storm

WAYNE, N.J. (AP) — The powerful nor'easter had moved out at sea, but flooding lingered Tuesday in many Northeast communities.

Many places from the mid-Atlantic to New England were still inundated with water, with tens of thousands of people lacking electricity and hundreds still in emergency shelters — some for a fourth day.

In Wayne, a flood-prone New York City suburb along the Passaic River, Abedin Shakiri was told by a utility worker that he probably wouldn't be able to enter his house until Saturday. The 48-year-old Albanian came to the United States from Kosovo in 2000 as part of a refugee airlift, and bought virtually the first house he set eyes on — near the river.

"It's a cheap area here," he said. "It's nice, when there's no water."

He did not know the neighborhood was prone to flooding when he bought. Of the previous owner, Shakiri said, "I didn't ask; he didn't tell me."

Marie Philpot and her husband, Phil Weckesser of Woodland Park have had it with floods, saying this one — the worst they remembered in 14 years living along the banks of the Passaic River — would be their last.

"It's very depressing," Philpot said. "All you do is work, work, work to build something, and it's all destroyed. I work just to pay insurance for this, and it's paying us nothing."

One neighbor teased Philpot about her homemade hip waders: two black garbage bags she had stuffed in each of her rubber boots to protect her pant legs as she waded down the street to her home. Philpot said they were ready, but unable, to pump out their home because they had no electricity.

About 30,000 New Jersey customers remained without power as of 8 p.m. Tuesday. In Connecticut, about 40,000 homes and businesses were in the dark, down from a peak of more than 85,000. Nearly 70,000 were without power in New York City and its suburbs to the north and the east.

Connecticut Gov. M. Jodi Rell called for an investigation into what she called the slow response of utility companies. She asked state utility regulators and emergency management officials to look into complaints that Connecticut Light & Power Co. and The United Illuminating Co. were slow to make fixes.

Spokesmen for both companies say their crews responded aggressively.

The Aberjona River near the Boston suburb of Winchester had crested and was starting to recede Tuesday, but several hundred homes remained flooded.

The rain gouged a gaping hole under some trolley tracks in Newton, forcing the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority to substitute buses for Boston-bound commuters. Officials said it could take several days to repair the damage.

In southeastern New Hampshire, more than 100 roads remained closed by flooding. About 100 homes were evacuated in Somersworth, Allenstown and Exeter.

A dam that had been threatened Monday in West Warwick, R.I., held, and floodwaters were receding Tuesday. In Atlantic City, many of the 400 residents who had to leave their oceanfront homes during the storm were told they could return home Tuesday afternoon.

The storm caused moderate erosion to New Jersey's 127-mile coastline, according to the state Department of Environmental Protection.

At least 11 people died in storm-related accidents, and nearly a half-million people lost power at the peak of the storm. Governors from New Jersey to New Hampshire were seeking federal assistance to help defray cleanup costs.

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Associated Press writers Wayne Parry in Atlantic City, Jim Fitzgerald in White Plains, N.Y., and Bob Salsberg in Boston contributed to this report.