The Heat Is Online

New York, Philadelphia, Cleveland Hit by Record One-Day Rain

Record Northeast rain leaves soggy mess

 Flood warnings still in effect in parts of N.Y., N.J. and Mass. staff and news service reports, Aug. 16, 2011 

NEW YORK — The worst is over: the flooded roads, overflowing streams, swimming-pool basements and sodden ground across the Northeast and parts of the Midwest. 

While rain was in the forecast for Tuesday, it's not expected to be anything like the weekend storm that dumped record rains on parts of the nation's eastern half, washing out roads in New Jersey and forcing a small hospital in Ohio to move patients.

 Nearly 8 inches of rain fell on New York City's Kennedy Airport on Sunday and nearly 5 in Philadelphia, setting city records for any day. At Seabrook Farms, N.J., the daily total was nearly 11 inches.

 The effects still were being felt.

 Flood warnings remained in effect through Tuesday in some areas of New Jersey, New York and Massachusetts even as the rains moved out to sea. 

Amtrak lines were closed through Baltimore for a time Monday because of water over the tracks.

 Concerns over bacteria from stormwater runoff caused Long Island officials on Monday to close 19 beaches to bathing in Nassau County and to warn Suffolk County residents against bathing at 66 beaches.

 Trapped in flooding elevator 

Two New York City construction workers who barely escaped drowning in an elevator were happy to be alive after their ordeal on New York City's Staten Island. 

Cabinetmaker Ed Tyler  said he and colleague Wendell Amaker were moving materials for a senior center being built.

 As rain drummed the borough around 9:30 a.m. Sunday, Tyler and Amaker were using an elevator to get supplies to a basement that, unknown to them, was filling up with floodwaters.

After they got in, the doors would not open, though they pressed buttons in vain.

"We hit the water; we heard swishing," Tyler said. Then the water started pouring in.

"I was freaked out — the water was almost chest-high," he said. They feared electrocution and jumped into a rubberized utility cart they had with them. 

Of their two cell phones, one was wet and one had no signal. Finally, they decided to break open a ceiling emergency hatch.

 Almost an hour after they became trapped, one cell phone suddenly caught a signal and they called 911.

 In a few minutes, fire rescuers arrived, shut off power to the elevator and hoisted the men out through the ceiling hatch with a ladder. 

Same system as in Indiana fair tragedy 

No deaths or serious injuries were reported from the record-breaking cloudbursts.

The slow-moving system was the same one that toppled a stage with its winds Saturday at the Indiana State Fair, killing five people. Its lazy pace was what caused the exceptional rainfall amounts, said Dave Scheibe, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Mount Holly, N.J. 

In southern New Jersey, a dam on Seeley Lake broke Sunday, turning the normally mild Cohansey River into a raging threat racing through downtown Bridgeton. 

"These waters were going at least 20, 30 miles per hour," said Martin Ruiz, a maintenance worker for a realty company who spent Monday checking on basements of rental properties in Bridgeton. "There were big logs going through there."

 Officials in Cumberland County reported four water rescues Sunday. But it could have been worse, said Joseph Sever, director of Cumberland County's Office of Emergency Management — the rain fell on the tidal rivers and streams in the region at a fortunate time.

"The tide was right," he said.


 Cleveland's 3.51 inches of rain broke a record for Aug. 14 that had been on the books since 1905, according to the National Weather Service.

 In Port Clinton, Ohio, three of the six patients at Magruder Hospital were moved Sunday when water inundated a room holding the main power distribution panels. The other three were discharged.

 The Associated Press contributed to this report.