October 15, 2005

Drenched Northeastern US gets reprieve from rain

By Jason Szep

BOSTON (Reuters) - Parts of the Northeastern United States
got a reprieve on Saturday after a week of incessant rain that
flooded cities, drenched homes, wiped out bridges and forced a
swamped New Jersey to declare a state of emergency.

The rain cleared in New Jersey and New York City, allowing
rescue workers and residents to survey areas hardest-hit by the
unrelenting downpour that dumped about 12 inches of rain in New
York City's Central Park since October 7.

But showers drenched Massachusetts, New Hampshire and
Connecticut on Saturday for an eighth straight day, and
officials across the region reported widespread damage to homes
and property as swollen rivers overflowed their banks.

"Different counties will start their damage assessments,"
said Tom Giordano, operations officer for New Jersey State
Police Office of Emergency Management.

Acting New Jersey Gov. Richard Codey declared a state of
emergency on Friday as the overflowing Passaic, Ramapo and
Raritan Rivers soaked streets and homes in low-lying areas,
forcing rescue workers to use sandbags in an attempt to hold
back the waters.

Television footage showed rescue workers in boats and
residents in canoes navigating some New Jersey streets.

In Massachusetts, the city center of Worcester, about 45
miles west of Boston, was under about 4 feet of water on
Saturday, said Peter Judge of the Massachusetts Office of
Emergency Management.

Metal shipping containers floated in the city's flooded
truck depot and parked cars were nearly totally submerged.

Rains drenched Boston on Saturday for the eighth day of
almost continuous showers since October 7, when the downpours
began in much of the Northeast.

Trucks driven by National Guard troops in New Hampshire
carried residents back to their homes in the southwestern city
of Keene after an evacuation on Friday, and officials there
said the rain appeared to be tapering.

"We've seen small rivers and streams become raging
torrents," said New Hampshire Bureau of Emergency Management
spokesman Jim Van Dongen.

He said flood warnings remained across much of New
Hampshire, where seven people have died and at least 100 homes
have been washed away or badly damaged.

In Connecticut, a 75-year-old man was swept away and killed
while stepping out of his pick-up truck early on Saturday at a
campground in the town of Stafford, and authorities there said
flood warnings remained in effect through the state.

The National Weather Service forecast that a big
high-pressure system from the Midwest would push the rain out
of the region by late Saturday.

(Additional reporting by Ilaina Jonas in New York)