Northeast Slammed By Rare April Storm

NEW YORK - APRIL 15: Pedestrians push against the wind and rain as they cross the road April 15, 2007 at Astor Place in New York City. The East coast is bracing for a severe nor'easter bringing heavy rain and wind and forcing airlines to cancel more than 350 flights. The nor'easter is expected to deliver some of the worst flooding to coastal areas in 14 years. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images) Getty Images/Chris McGrath

A nor'easter battered the East with strong wind and pouring rain Sunday, grounding hundreds of airline flights, downing power lines and threatening severe coastal flooding overnight.

The storm flooded people out of their homes in the middle of the night in West Virginia and trapped others. Some New Jersey shore residents evacuated, and officials in Connecticut urged some residents along the Long Island Sound to do the same. Inland areas from upstate New York to Maine faced a threat of heavy snow.

One person was killed in South Carolina as dozens of mobile homes were destroyed or damaged by wind. The storm system already had been blamed for five deaths on Friday in Kansas and Texas.

Storm warnings and watches were posted all along the East Coast, with coastal flood watches from Maryland to Maine through at least Monday morning.

More than 5.5 inches of rain fell in the New York region Sunday, shattering the record for the date of 1.8 inches set in 1906, according to the National Weather Service. Weather service meteorologist Gary Conte said Sunday night's high tide was likely to bring coastal flooding on Long Island and in parts of New York City.

Connecticut's emergency management commissioner, James Thomas, was expecting most of the problems to come Sunday night with the high tide.

"We are prepared to deliver sandbags, assist with an evacuation, or whatever we need to do," Thomas said. "We're kind of all sitting back, getting prepared and hoping it doesn't get as bad as it has been in different parts of the country."

In New York, flooding stalled traffic along parkways and forced residents in at least one Queens neighborhood to paddle through streets in boats. In the coastal Seagate section of Brooklyn, which suffered major flooding in a December 1992 nor'easter, residents placed sandbags in the streets.

"Everybody remembers that (1992 storm)," resident Jose Serrano said. "Everybody's home got ruined. Some houses got underwater. It was up to your stomach."

More than 400 flights were cancelled in the New York region — over 80 in Philadelphia and 70 in Boston, reports CBS News correspondent Randall Pinkston.

Fire Island Ferries suspended service to the island, off the south shore of Long Island, and the Metro-North Railroad suspended service on its Harlem and New Haven lines for several hours because of flooding in the Mott Haven section of the Bronx.

The Coast Guard had warned mariners to head for port because wind up to 55 mph was expected to generate seas up to 20 feet high, Petty Officer Etta Smith said in Boston.

A tornado touched down in the central part of South Carolina, killing one person, seriously injuring four others and cutting a 300-yard swath of destruction in Sumter County, officials said. A second tornado touched down near Lynchburg.

In New Jersey, 16 roadways throughout the state were either partially or fully closed and traffic lights were malfunctioning in some areas, Kris Kolluri, state Transportation Commissioner, said late Sunday afternoon.

In Sea Bright, New Jersey, the storm, which picked up power as it headed over the ocean, pounded the area with heavy rains and wind gusts of more than 50 mph, reports CBS News correspondent Bianca Solorzano.

"This is going to be bad," Shaun Rheinheimer said as he moved furniture to higher spots at his house on New Jersey's Cedar Bonnet Island.

The storm caused flash flooding in the mountains of southern West Virginia, where emergency services personnel rescued nearly two dozen people from homes and cars in Logan and Boone counties early Sunday. Two people were unaccounted for and others were trapped in their homes.

"Our houses sit in the middle of the hill, and it's all around us. I'm surrounded, it's like a lake completely around us," said Samantha Walker, 29, who was visiting her grandmother in Matheny. "We can't get out even if we wanted to get out."

The storm forced the postponement of six major league baseball games Sunday — the most in a single day in a decade — and gave runners in Monday's Boston Marathon something to worry about besides Heartbreak Hill. The race-day forecast called for 3 to 5 inches of rain, start temperatures in the 30s and wind gusts of up to 25 mph.

Heavy rain and thunderstorms extended from Florida up the coast to New England on Sunday. Wind gusted to 71 mph at Charleston, S.C., the weather service said.

Major flooding was forecast in parts of eastern and central Pennsylvania, where some rivers already were above flood state Sunday night.

Thousands of electricity customers lost power in states including New York, Connecticut, New Jersey and North Carolina.

Rain dumped 3 inches on eastern Kentucky, where a 50-foot section of highway collapsed near Pikeville, said State Police Sgt. Jamey Kidd. No vehicles were caught by the collapse, he said.

In central Florida, a tornado damaged mobile homes in Dundee but no injuries were reported, police said.
  • Lloyd Vries

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