Wild weather soaks New York area

December 15, 2010 10:49:19 AM PST
Long Island and other parts of the New York area are shaking off a wild night of nasty weather that flooded streets and forced people from their homes.

The rain came in torrents, flooding entire neighborhoods in Queens and then roaring east. The driver of a city bus sat on the roof after calling for a rescue. By then, in Freeport, it was suddenly high tide for homeowners.

"We got 11 alarms for different flooding conditions due to the flash flood and the rainstorms that we had," the Freeport assistant fire chief said.

More than a dozen Long Island drivers, trapped on flooded roads, made desperate calls to police, with rain pounding down at the rate of two inches per hour.

At the height of the troubles, drivers were caught in a flash flood shutdown of the Long Island Expressway. Just before 10 p.m., Nassau County police closed the road in both directions from exit 36 at Searingtown Road to exit 39 at Glen Cove Road.

The nearby Northern State Parkway was cut down to just one lane, with cars mired in water and mud. The Belt Parkway, the Southern State and the Van Wyck all had severe flooding and shutdowns.

On Allen Street in Herricks, at least 100 people had to be evacuated from dozens of homes with flooded basements. Fire officials gave the order after flooding and a wall collapse ruptured a gas main.

"We lost everything," homeowner Shabana Patel-Asgar said. "We just moved, so we put everything in the basement."

The Nassau County Office of Emergency Management said 30 homes were evacuated after midnight Monday, but that residents had been allowed back in to all but four. A spokesman said that once the electrical equipment is certified to be safe, occupants of three of the houses will be able to go home. Work on the fourth, the house where the wall collapsed, will take longer.

Almost 7,000 homes and businesses were blacked out.

Flooding also was reported in parts of Rockland County. In Nyack, flooding clogged storm drains with debris and dumped muddy water into building basements along a three block-stretch.