Heavy rain drenches parts of US north-east, washing out roads, forcing evacuations and halting some airline travel
Rescue teams raced into Vermont on Monday after heavy rain drenched parts of the US north-east, washing out roads, forcing evacuations and halting some airline travel. One person was killed in New York as she was trying to leave her home.
Mike Cannon of Vermont Urban Search and Rescue said crews from North Carolina, Michigan and Connecticut were among those helping to get to towns that had been unreachable since rain belted the state overnight.
Cannon said the hardest-hit areas were among the Green Mountains, in southern and central counties. The towns of Londonderry and Weston were inaccessible and rescuers were heading there to do welfare checks. A state park in Plymouth was being evacuated. Water levels at several dams were being monitored.
The slow-moving storm hit New York before it reached New England. On Monday, heavy downpours with possible flash flooding were forecast in parts of Connecticut, New York, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine.
One of the worst-hit places on Sunday night was the Hudson Valley in New York, where rescuers found the body of a woman in her 30s whose home was surrounded by water. The force of the flash flooding dislodged boulders which rammed the woman’s house and damaged part of its wall, the Orange county executive, Steven Neuhaus, told the Associated Press. Two people escaped.
“There’s a major flash flood. Major washouts were all around where her house is,” Neuhaus said. “So I could definitely see where she was trying to get out to safety, but did not make it, got swept away. Her house was completely surrounded by water. She was trying to get through with her dog and she was overwhelmed by tidal wave-type waves.”
Neuhaus said roads and bridges were washed out. Officials believed everyone was accounted for but were trying to reach people to make sure they were OK. Officials also said the storm, which brought up to 8in of rain, caused tens of millions of dollars in damage.
The governor of New York, Kathy Hochul, told reporters on Monday the storm sent “cars swirling in our streets”.
“Nine inches of rain in this community,” Hochul said during a briefing on a muddy street in Highland Falls, outside the US military academy at West Point. “They’re calling this a ‘1,000-year event’.”
Hochul declared a state of emergency for Orange county, about 60 miles (97km) north of New York City. That included the town of Cornwall near West Point, which itself was severely flooded. Officials worried some historic buildings might have sustained water damage.
Hochul extended the state of emergency to Ontario county in western New York, south-east of Rochester.
“We are in close communication with local officials and state agencies are participating in search and rescue efforts,” Hochul said.
The state deployed five swift-water rescue teams and a high-axle vehicle. Video posted on social media showed brown-colored torrents next to homes, and roadways washed away.
The storm also interrupted air and rail travel. There were hundreds of flight cancellations at JFK, LaGuardia and Newark airports and more than 200 at Boston’s Logan international airport, according to the FlightAware website. Amtrak suspended service between Albany and New York.
In Vermont, the governor, Phil Scott, declared a state of emergency.
Vermont had some of its worst weather during Tropical Storm Irene in August 2011, when it received 11in of rain in 24 hours, washing homes off foundations and damaging or destroying more than 200 bridges and 500 miles (800km) of highway.
“This is an all-hands-on-deck response,” Scott said at a Monday press conference. “We have not seen rainfall like this since Irene, and in some places, it will surpass even that.”
Some campers and people caught in their homes were rescued in central and southern Vermont, said Mark Bosma, spokesperson for the state emergency management office.
Some towns reported 2.5-4in of rain since midnight and similar totals were expected during the day, said Robert Haynes, a meteorologist with the NWS in Burlington.
“We still look like we’re on track for that potentially significant, locally catastrophic flooding,” Haynes said.
“This is one of those unique events that we don’t see very often around here,” said Marlon Verasamy, a meteorologist in Burlington, adding that ground was saturated and rivers relatively high from recent rains. Parts of southern Vermont had mudslides and road flooding from a storm on Friday night into Saturday.
“It’s the same area being hit today,” Verasamy said.
Several communities in western Massachusetts reported flooded and washed-out roads, the Massachusetts emergency management agency said.
Fire departments in Adams, North Adams and Clarksburg, close to the New York and Vermont borders, were assisting homeowners with pumping out basements.
Flash flooding and washed-out roads were reported in western Connecticut and along that state’s shoreline. In Norfolk, fire officials said about 50 homes had been cut off by flood waters that destroyed roads.