Small NY town feels Irene's "devastating" wrath

It turns out it wasn't the wind -- it was the water. Long after Hurricane Irene fell apart, rain from the storm did the greatest damage. Parts of 13 states from North Carolina to Maine are deep in floodwaters. At least 37 people have died in the region.

Some homes were reduced to rubble. Nearly 5 million homes and businesses are spending another night without power.

Even in a flood, there was fire. In Pompton Lakes, New Jersey, a home erupted -- they think it was a gas line that broke. The house was safely evacuated.

Floodwaters that wiped out bridges cut off more than a dozen towns in Vermont and three in New York.

CBS News correspondent Jim Axelrod surveys the storm's damage in the town of Windham, New York.

It all happened in a flash in this small town in New York's Catskill Mountains. Irene dumped more than 10 inches of rain into the Batavia Kill Creek in just a matter of a couple of hours. And as the water washed across the street, the road just washes away. Main Street is wrecked.

None of the 1,800 people who live in Windham had any idea what was about to happen as Irene moved in -- certainly not Antonia Schreiber.

"We thought we were going to lose electricity at most," she said.

"You didn't think you were going to lose your store?"

She shook her head. "No."

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Less than an hour later, the 26-year old owner of a full-service day spa knew it would be far worse.

"It was coming down Main Street," she said. "It was a raging river. This little creek, which is still larger than normal, was gushing against that bridge at full force. We saw the bridge and that's when we decided we had to evacuate."

Known as the city on the mountaintop, Windham's higher ground didn't help, as up to four feet of water went rushing through the town.

Axelrod asked Schreiber where the water would be 24 hours ago on people. "It would be up to our chests," she responded.

Her ruined business is a reminder for people who think Irene packed little punch. Five years of Antonia Schreiber's hard work is covered in mud. And she's not alone.

"My tears are for everyone and for us and what's to come," said Schreiber. "How can you not cry? It's a beautiful town, it's a beautiful community. And you see what's happening."

"Heartbreak?" asked Axelrod.

"It's devastating," she said.

Schreiber also had eight employees who are also out of work now. She had no flood insurance.

  • Jim Axelrod

    Jim Axelrod is the senior national correspondent for CBS News, reporting for "CBS This Morning," the "CBS Evening News," "CBS Sunday Morning," and other CBS News broadcasts.