Flooding leaves parts of U.S. Northeast under water

Click to play video: '‘More flooding is a very real possibility’: Northeastern U.S. braces for further rainfall'
‘More flooding is a very real possibility’: Northeastern U.S. braces for further rainfall
WATCH: While some floodwaters in the northeastern U.S. have started to recede, that doesn't mean people are in the clear. Jackson Proskow reports on the cleanup underway, and how communities are bracing for what's still to come. – Jul 12, 2023

Rescue teams raced into Vermont on Monday after heavy rain drenched parts of Northeast, 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 have been unreachable since torrents of rain belted the state overnight.

Cannon said the hardest hit area are along the mountainous areas of the Green Mountains in the state’s 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, and water levels at several dams were being monitored.

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Some people canoed their way to the Cavendish Baptist Church in Vermont, which had turned into a shelter. About 30 people waited it out, some of them making cookies for firefighters who were working to evacuate and rescue others.

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“People are doing OK. It’s just stressful,” shelter volunteer Amanda Gross said.
Click to play video: 'New York downpour: Heavy rains bring catastrophic flooding in U.S. Northeast'
New York downpour: Heavy rains bring catastrophic flooding in U.S. Northeast

The slow-moving storm reached New England in the morning after hitting parts of New York and Connecticut on Sunday. More downpours in the region were expected Monday, raising the potential for flash flooding.

One of the worst hit places was New York’s Hudson Valley, 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 into the woman’s house and damaged part of its wall, Orange County Executive Steven Neuhaus told The Associated Press. Two other people escaped.

“She was trying to get through (the flooding) with her dog,” Neuhaus said, “And she was overwhelmed by tidal-wave type waves.”

He said many roads and bridges were washed out. Officials believed everyone was accounted for, but they were trying to reach people to make sure they were OK.

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Officials say the storm has already wrought tens of millions of dollars in damage. In New York, Gov. Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, said at a news conference Monday that the storm sent “cars swirling in our streets” and dumped a “historic” amount of rain.

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“Nine inches of rain in this community,” Hochul said during a briefing on a muddy street in Highland Falls. “They’re calling this a `1,000 year event.”’

“The water kept rising higher, and higher, and higher,” said Kathy Eason, who was volunteering Sunday afternoon at a community resource center in Highland Falls. “And then it got to the steps of the center, and then it started coming in under the door.”

She was trapped in the center for about seven or eight hours, able to wait it out in a raised area of the building.

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The U.S. Military Academy at West Point was pounded with more than eight inches (20.32 centimeters) of rain that sent debris sliding onto some roads and washed others out. Superintendent Lt. Gen. Steven W. Gilland said the recently arrived new cadets and others at the historic academy on the Hudson River were safe, but that assessing the damage will take time.

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Cadet candidates attending the academy’s preparatory school were still due to report Monday, but Gilland said he realized some might have trouble making it on time.

The storm also interrupted air and rail travel. As of early Monday, there were hundreds of flight cancellations at Kennedy, LaGuardia and Newark airports and more than 200 canceled at Boston’s Logan Airport in the last 24 hours, according to the Flightaware website. Amtrak temporarily suspended service between Albany and New York. In Vermont, some 25 state roads were closed.

Vermont Gov. Phil Scott said swift-water rescue teams from outside the state were needed.

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“This is an all-hands-on-deck response,” he said at a Monday press conference. “We have not seen rainfall like this since Irene, and in some places, it will surpass even that.”

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Scott was referring to Tropical Storm Irene in August 2011, when the state got 11 inches (28 centimeters) of rain in 24 hours. Irene killed six in the state, washed homes off their foundations and damaged or destroyed more than 200 bridges and 500 miles (805 kilometers) of highway.

By Monday morning, some towns reported two-and-a-half to four inches (6.35 centimeters to 10.16 centimeters) of rain since midnight, and similar totals were expected during the day, said Robert Haynes, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Burlington, Vermont.

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“We still look like we’re on track for that potentially significant, locally catastrophic flooding,” Haynes said.

Forecaster Marlon Verasamy in Burlington said the ground was already saturated and rivers were relatively high from recent heavy rains. Parts of southern Vermont had mudslides and road flooding from a storm Friday night into Saturday morning.

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“It’s the same area being hit today,” he said.

Several communities in western Massachusetts have reported flooded and washed out roads, a spokesperson for the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency said Monday.

Flash flooding and washed out roads were reported in western Connecticut and along the state’s shoreline. In Norfolk, fire officials said several culverts along Route 272 had crumbled or moved and about 50 homes had been cut off by flood waters that destroyed the roads leading to those properties.

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