Showers remain but record rains move on

AP News
Posted: Aug 16, 2011 3:23 AM
Showers remain but record rains move on

It's over for now: the flooded roads, overflowing streams, swimming-pool basements and sodden ground.

The National Weather Service says despite thunderstorms and showers on Monday, we have moved past the torrential rains. We've seen the worst of it, weather service spokesman John Cristantello in New York said early Tuesday.

The storm dropped record rains over the weekend 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 a day later.

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

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.

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, of Milltown, N.J., told The Associated Press on Monday that he and colleague Wendell Amaker, of Roselle, N.J., 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.

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.

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

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.


Mulvihill reported from Bridgeton, N.J. Associated Press writer Josh Lederman in Trenton contributed to this report.


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