National Guard and firefighters rescued hundreds of people from record flooding in New Jersey yesterday, and Vermont planned to airlift food and water to inland towns cut off by Hurricane Irene after its paralyzing rampage through the northeast.
Irene killed about 40 people when it dumped 5 to 15 inches of rain over wide swathes of the East Coast on Saturday and Sunday. It spared New York City but caused the worst flooding in decades in inland areas of New York state, New Jersey and Vermont.
Search and rescue teams have plucked nearly 600 people from homes in recent days with the most intense efforts yesterday when the Passaic River measured 13 feet above flood stage, the highest level since 1903.
Firefighters rescued some by boat and the National Guard saved others by truck, taking them to a Red Cross shelter. “Some are coming out of their windows,” Popov said.
“It’s raging,” he said of the Passaic, which runs through the center of town.
Swollen rivers were still cresting yesterday and flood plains remained under water in northeastern states that were already soaked by an unusually wet summer.
Utilities restored electricity to roughly half the 6.7 million customers who had power knocked out, and New York City mass transit and air travel crept back to normal.
Clear skies in the northeast aided rescue efforts, but hundreds of thousands of homes were damaged, with some swept away in the torrent.
Tropical Storm Katia is jogging west at a brisk 18
miles per hour, and the National Hurricane Center says it is expected to
become a hurricane late today or early tomorrow. But the center says
it is not possible now to predict its path with certainty, or even say
whether it will threaten the East Coast.