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New York area slammed with flooding, high winds

December 15, 2010 10:43:02 AM PST
Torrential downpours from a faded tropical storm inundated the New York area on Friday.

The storm caused problems for the Friday morning commute.

Flights coming into LaGuardia Airport in New York City were delayed three hours and traffic coming into Manhattan was delayed by up to an hour under a pounding rain.

"Its terrible. I've never seen it this bad," said motorist Maria Scognamiglio on New York's Long Island, an area plagued by storm-related road closures. She said a three-mile trip took her about 90 minutes.

There are many big trees down across Queens. We found one that crushed a Ford Windstar, but no one was injured.

"I turned a corner, and it turned out to be my car,"

He didn't see it fall. He only saw the crushed aftermath.

Neighbors heard the goliath tree shaking early today at the height of the storm.

High powered wind took down several trees in Queens, and power lines came down with them in some places.

NEW JERSEY

In Newark, people were lucky to get anywhere along Frelinghausen Avenue.

Some drivers became stranded for hours. Mary Wimberly severely miscalculated as she headed down one street on her way to work.

"I was driving and then started floating," she said

Four hours later Mary was still fishing the flood out of her car and re-living her morning nightmare.

"I was petrified. I was so nervous. I couldn't believe my car was floating. It was like right up into the door knobs," Wimberly said.

In nearby Elizabeth, the street flooding left one young driver with only one place to go - up to the roof of his car while firefighters brought out an inflatable raft and eventually brought him to safety.

The rain was coming down hard in Knowlton, New Jersey. Residents had their eyes on the Delaware River and others throughout the state, hoping that the recent lack of rain means the waterways are low enough to handle the precipitation and avoid overflow.

The heavy rain of the past two days is filling up New Jersey's reservoirs and easing fears of a drought.

David Robinson called the storm "enormously helpful," adding it will go a long way toward solving short and midterm problems with drinking water supplies in the state.

"This is a reservoir-filler," Robinson said. "It's tremendously welcome, and it came without any major river flooding."

Robinson said the fact that rivers and streams were so low due to the drought actually saved New Jersey from serious flooding. He said the Delaware region and eastern Pennsylvania picked up the most rain from the storm.

"The saving grace was that we were dry and the rivers were low before this," he said. "If that had not been the case, we would be looking at historic flooding on the Delaware right now."

Only minor flooding was reported Friday along New Jersey rivers.

The Rockaway River at Boonton, the Saddle River at Lodi and the North Branch Raritan River in Somerset County were slightly above flood stage. The National Weather Service said they would fall below flood level by Friday night.

New Jersey has been locked in a seven-month long dry pattern and is under a drought watch. The watch does not come with mandatory statewide water restrictions, although some local communities have imposed them.

Robinson said he would not be surprised to see the state Department of Environmental Protection lift the drought watch within a week or so, after examining reservoir levels. A DEP spokesman said it is too soon to make that determination, adding the agency will examine reservoir levels consider what if any changes need to be made next week.

"We're going to have to see if this breaks the pattern of drought," Robinson said. "If we return to a more normal pattern of rainfall, then this will put us in excellent shape. But if it's an aberration, if it's just one and done, we could be back in the same situation in a few months."

The heaviest rainfall amounts were reported in Warren County as of Friday morning. Allamuchy Township had gotten 7.26 inches of rain from the storm that began early Thursday. Greenwich Township had 7.17 inches, Liberty Township had 7.08 and Independence Township 6.84 inches.

Holland Township in Hunterdon County saw 6.72 inches, Blairstown in Warren County got 6.63 inches, Knowlton in Warren County got 6.33 inches, and Stockton in Hunterdon County got 6.33. West Milford in Passaic County got just under 6 inches.

Not everyone shared in the rainfall's benefits.

"The real losers in this were the shore counties, particularly the southern shore," Robinson said.

Cape May County received sparse rainfall, with Sea Isle City registering 0.54 inches, Middle Township registering 0.55 inches, Woodbine getting 0.57 inches and Wildwood Crest getting 0.62.

Rainfall in Atlantic, Ocean and Monmouth counties averaged about 2 inches.

CONNECTICUT

Trees and utility wires fell, some roads flooded and thousands lost power across Connecticut as the remnants of the tropical storm hit New England. No major injuries were reported.

Connecticut Light & Power says it's restored power to 59,000 customers since Thursday and 10,300 outages remain Friday. United Illuminating reports 370 outages.

New Haven police say Union Avenue near the train station was closed because of a sinkhole. Two schools in Milford closed early because of power outages.


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