CBSN

Hurricane's Gone, Floods Live On

President Bush, second from right, walks with Al Boyd as he tours the remains of his home which was destroyed by Hurricane Ivan Sunday, Sept. 19, 2004 in Pensacola, Fla. The president toured hurricane damaged parts of Florida and Alabama Sunday.
AP
Hurricane Ivan's winds and sheets of rain are gone, but the floods it created are not over. Rivers and small streams swollen beyond their banks by Ivan triggered new evacuations Sunday in five states.

The Delaware River has flooded parts of New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania, prompting thousands to flee, and the Ohio River inundated parts of towns in West Virginia and Ohio.

Portions of northeastern Pennsylvania and far northwestern New Jersey were soaked with between 5 and 8 inches of rain in less than 24 hours Saturday, and that water rushed downstream Sunday, forecasters said.

Along the Susquehanna River, Pennsylvanians watched the swift-moving current drain past them with a mixture of dread and awe, and Maryland residents were warned a deluge was coming.

The Delaware River crested around 23½ feet in Trenton, N.J., on Sunday night, well above the flood stage of 20 feet, and the Susquehanna was nearly 8 feet above flood stage Sunday at Bloomsburg, Pa., the National Weather Service said.

In Harrisburg, the mayor's office reported more than 2,000 residents subject to evacuation, and the deluge closed streets and unmoored pleasure boats from docks. In the Wilkes-Barre area, the Susquehanna caused extensive damage.

Conditions in the region were expected to slowly improve on Monday and no more rain was expected for the next few days.

Hurricane Ivan and its remnants have been blamed for at least 52 deaths in the United States and 70 deaths in the Caribbean. Hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses were still without electricity Sunday, most of them in Florida and Alabama.

President Bush declared a disaster area Sunday for many counties in Pennsylvania and Ohio. Officials estimated that the flooding has caused hundreds of millions of dollars in damage.

Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, who toured hard-hit Allegheny County and parts of the Susquehanna by air Sunday, requested federal disaster aid for 42 of Pennsylvania's 67 counties, and Bush declared disasters in 19 of them Sunday night. Rendell said more counties may be added as damage assessments are done.

At least 14,000 Pennsylvania residents were forced to flee their homes, according to a survey of county emergency management officials by The Associated Press, and emergency management officials attributed six deaths to the storm.

In Trenton, N.J., the Statehouse and several other nearby state offices and buildings are closed Monday because garages and surrounding roads have been flooded by the surging Delaware. Assembly and Senate meetings were canceled.

The Ohio River crested Sunday at Wheeling, W.Va., at about 9 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.

West Virginia Gov. Bob Wise spent Saturday 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 Sunday. "I saw human lives uprooted."

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 mudslides.

"We have had a lot of mudslides, debris on roads, slides we get cleaned up and an hour later the mud slides again," said Larry Rea, emergency services director for Brooke County, in West Virginia's northern panhandle.

About 1,700 people were out of their homes Sunday in eastern Ohio. The Ohio River crested at 9 feet above flood stage in the southeastern city of Marietta. Streets are underwater near the river and about 200 people had to leave their homes.

Downriver along the Susquehanna, an emergency shelter was opened Sunday in flood-prone Port Deposit, Md., where some streets already were flooded and about 200 of the town's 700 residents were told to evacuate. 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.

As President Bush viewed Hurricane Ivan wreckage on Alabama's coast Sunday, many in the state's rural hamlets felt they were not only without power or water — they also were without government help.

"We're just forgotten," said Atmore businessman Gordon Lightfoot. "Poor folks have a hard time getting around with no gas."

In Florida, the devastation in some areas is proving hard to confront with resources already stretched thin by previous hurricanes Charley and Frances.

"It's like 'Groundhog Day,'" said Punta Gorda, Fla., resident Georgia Pares - who's had to patch the same holes in the roof that were first made by Charley last month - referring to the movie in which Bill Murray's character lives one day over and over. "I get up every day and I look at the same thing. It's getting a little depressing."

Federal, state and local agencies say they're working as fast as they can, given the vast amount of rubble to pick up, roofs to patch, telephone and cable service to reconnect and insurance claims to process.

Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Mike Brown said Saturday that the number of relief workers helping with victims of Charley and Frances remains the same, but he is concerned about fatigue and people becoming more irritable and impatient.

"We have all those same people working all those same disasters," Brown said. "We're not taking anything away from the peninsula to serve up in the Panhandle."