The Heat Is Online

Flash Flood Drops Foot of Rain on N.J.

Flash floods drench Northeast

Rain collapses 2 N.J. bridges
Associated Press,
Aug. 12, 2000

SPARTA, N.J., Aug. 12 — As much as a foot of rain fell in parts of the Northeast on Saturday, turning creeks into rivers, flooding roads, business and homes and collapsing at least two bridges in northern New Jersey.

Flash flood watches were posted for much of New Jersey and parts of Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, New York and Connecticut, the National Weather Service said.

A state of emergency was declared in Sparta, where eight to 10 inches of rain fell in just a few hours. Residents had to be evacuated from homes there and in nearby Ogdensburg and Lake Hopatcong, and police were scrambling to answer calls about people stranded on submerged cars and in homes in flooded neighborhoods.

The National Guard sent trucks and troops to help emergency officials reach flooded areas. Bridges in Jefferson Township and in Ogdensburg had collapsed, officials said.

At least 10,000 lost power in the region, officials said.

In Narrowsburg, N.Y., the 15-member volunteer fire department performed its first water rescue, reaching a woman whose house was cut off by rising waters.

"A woman was apparently struck by lightning," said Assistant Chief Michael Hector. "The road going to her house was flooded over so we had to take a small rescue boat over a swollen creek ... carry her out on a backboard, and bring her back on the boat to the ambulance." The creek is usually so small it doesn’t even have a name, he said.

The National Weather Service said as much as six inches of rain fell in surrounding Sullivan County, about 60 miles northwest of New York City. Other fire departments in the area were busy barricading roads closed by flooding and mudslides.

On Max Yasgur’s farm, of 1969 Woodstock fame, car after car headed to a political rally dubbed "Greenstock" on Saturday got bogged down in the thick mud.

A police car and three ambulance were caught in flash flooding in Stratford, Conn., where 8 inches of rain fell Saturday.

"It was a freakish storm," said Town Manager Mark Barnhart said. "The force of the water was quite awesome. I can’t describe it. You have it picking up large objects. An ambulance was swept sideways by the current."

Homeowners and business-owners bailed floodwater from their homes and stores, Saturday while officials investigated whether a recently-installed pump system designed to prevent flooding had done its job.

The owners of Natalie’s Antiques on Main Street said they weren’t sure if insurance would cover the tens of thousands of dollars in damage done by several feet of water in their shop.

"This is all I’ve worked for," owner Natalie Fisher said. "This is my retirement money."

© 2000 Associated Press. All rights reserved.