ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — A massive winter storm that dumped as much as 3 feet of snow on the eastern United States raised flood waters in communities up and down the Atlantic Coast Saturday, closing roads and prompting evacuations.
The first round of flooding came with the morning tide. As water began overflowing into streets in some towns again Saturday night, officials said the nighttime flooding wasn't expected to be as severe.
A string of resort towns was temporarily isolated Saturday morning by floodwater that inundated homes and restaurants.
"A lot of properties have water in them. But it may not be until later Sunday that they can assess the damage," said Diane Wieland, a spokeswoman for Cape May County.
Officials in other states, from North Carolina to New York, expressed similar concerns. By late Saturday morning, some people already had seen enough havoc.
"When the water just started rushing down, it was as impressive as some of the videos you saw of Japan during the tsunamis," said Jason Pellegrini, owner of Steak Out restaurant in Sea Isle City, who was trapped inside by floodwaters. "It came in that fast."
Another restaurant, The Lobster House, was partly submerged by the rising tide more than 20 miles away in Cape May.
"It touched everywhere," said Keith Laudeman, the third-generation owner of the nearly century-old establishment on Cape May Harbor. "It even got to the equipment we moved and never thought would get touched."
The water quickly receded and Laudeman said he has a crew of people preparing to clean the place so they can reopen in the coming days.
In Delaware, flooding closed a popular route to the state's beaches and forced about a dozen people to leave the low-lying community of Oak Orchard. In Ocean City, Maryland, Delmarva Power cut electricity to hundreds of customers as storm surge flooding submerged equipment used to power the downtown area.
Gale warnings are in effect through Sunday morning along the North Carolina coast, the National Weather Service said, with winds of 30 mph expected along with rough seas.
Officials in New Jersey were assessing damage caused by the flooding. Firefighters went into a flooded area of Sea Isle City to battle a blaze at another restaurant that may have been linked to the high waters.
Finley reported from Philadelphia. Associated Press reporters Randall Chase in Dover, Delaware, and Ed Donahue in Washington contributed to this report.