Destructive storm heads for Northeast

Flood watches and warnings were in effect Wednesday as the powerful summer storm that hit the mid-Atlantic Tuesday slowly pushes through to New England, CBS News' Chip Reid reports.

Floodwaters raced down the streets of Laurel, Maryland, Tuesday as more than 8 inches of rain drenched the area. Emergency crews rescued dozens of people stranded in their cars.

Joy Lieninger and two others passengers climbed out of the side window of her car, which was nearly swallowed up by the flash floods.

Cars are stranded along a flooded stretch of I-696 at the Warren, Mich., city limits Aug. 12, 2014.
Cars are stranded along a flooded stretch of I-696 at the Warren, Mich., city limits Aug. 12, 2014.
AP Photo/Detroit News, David Coates

"It was very scary sitting there in the car watching the water get higher and higher and the grass disappearing and the water coming," Lieninger said. "I was thinking about getting out and sitting on top of the car."

In parts of Baltimore, drivers had no choice but to seek safety on the top of their vehicles. The quickly rising waters caught many residents off-guard. Rescuers advised people to stay put and wait for help.

"It could have ended tragically if they walked off, tried to get off and walk," said one Baltimore first responder. "They could step into an open manhole and sweep them down in."

On Tuesday night in North Carolina, severe thunderstorms left hundreds without power and forced some people to evacuate their hotel.

The same system now pummeling the Atlantic coast began in Detroit. The record rainfall is blamed for at least two deaths and has left more than 1,000 cars submerged.

Crews trying to clear the roads are asking drivers to find alternate routes.

"There are still areas flooded with several feet of water," said Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder. "My concern is people will see areas that's cleaned up and there's no longer water, they think they can drive around a barrier or go there. Don't ... please don't because there's still a safety risk there."