WHEELING, W.Va. – Hundreds of people evacuated their homes Sunday in parts of Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania as rivers and small streams were swollen beyond their banks by the torrential rain dumped by remnants of Hurricane Ivan (search).
The Ohio River (search) inundated parts of Wheeling and other West Virginia river towns, as well as communities on Ohio's shore, and the Delaware River flooded parts of New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania.
In addition to flooding, more than 1.2 million homes and businesses were still without electricity early Sunday from Florida to Pennsylvania because of Ivan, utilities estimated.
The hurricane and its remnants had been blamed for at least 50 deaths in the United States, 19 of them in Florida, and 70 deaths in the Caribbean.
West Virginia Gov. Bob Wise (search) asked President Bush on Sunday to declare eight northern counties federal disaster areas. "The Northern Panhandle clearly has been devastated and meets the threshold," Wise said after flying over the region.
The Ohio River crested Sunday at Wheeling at about 9.3 feet above flood stage, after submerging the city's riverfront park and amphitheater. It mostly covered the city's midriver Wheeling Island, which holds residential neighborhoods and Wheeling Island Racetrack and Gaming.
Wise spent the night with evacuees on the gym floor at Wheeling Park High, one of several Red Cross shelter sites, after a brief tour of the area by road.
"I saw mobile homes uprooted and tossed downstream," he said. "I saw human lives uprooted."
Downriver, residents had been urged to evacuate parts of Moundsville, where the Ohio crested at 10 feet above flood stage, and big flood gates were closed at Parkersburg.
A highway paralleling the West Virginia shore of the river was blocked in several places between Wheeling and Parkersburg, and the Ohio River bridge in New Martinsville was closed, state emergency officials said. Schools in some areas were to be closed Monday because roads were blocked by water and mud slides.
All around West Virginia, flooding and mudslides had blocked 207 roads and damaged hundreds of houses, authorities said.
About 1,700 people were out of their homes Sunday in eastern Ohio, where the Ohio River was rising to at least 6 feet above flood level, authorities said.
In Ohio's Jefferson County, mudslides and flooding closed a section of highway along the river, said a deputy who would not give his name. And in the southeastern Ohio city of Marietta, streets were underwater near the river, but no details were available Sunday morning, an emergency dispatcher said.
Hundreds of New Jersey and Pennsylvania residents fled their homes along the Delaware River on Sunday. Several bridges that cross the Delaware between the two states were blocked by high water, and emergency officials said the river was not expected to crest until evening.
In Phillipsburg, N.J., state police helicopters were used to monitor a propane tank and a house that were floating down the river, authorities said.
"It was one of the most amazing things I've seen," said Sgt. Gerald Lewis.
The central Pennsylvania city of Williamsport collected 6.5 inches of rain in 24 hours Friday, and Pittsburgh got a record 5.95 inches. Some areas of Pennsylvania reported up to 9 inches, state officials said.
The Susquehanna River (search) was nearly 8 feet above flood stage Sunday morning at Bloomsburg, Pa., the National Weather Service said. Dozens of homes in Scranton and Old Forge were evacuated as well as the western tip of Bloomsburg. The Susquehanna had forced hundreds from their homes in Jersey Shore, between Williamsport and Lock Haven.
In western Pennsylvania, the Monongahela and Allegheny rivers crested Saturday night at 6 feet above flood stage at Pittsburgh, where they join to form the Ohio River. That was a half-foot lower and two hours sooner than forecast.
Downriver along the Susquehanna, an emergency shelter was opened Sunday for residents of flood-prone Port Deposit, Md., where some streets already were flooded. The river was expected to rise several feet above flood stage there during the night, said John Droneburg, director of the Maryland Emergency Management Agency.