Mid-Atlantic Storm Cuts Power, Prompts Evacuations

CAMP SPRINGS, Md. - Heavy rain drenched the mid-Atlantic region Monday, knocking out power to up to 70,000 customers, flooding roads and chasing people out of their homes.

Up to 5 inches of rain fell across the region from Sunday afternoon into Monday, with another half-inch possible in some areas.

"(It's) possibly the worst flooding that I've seen since Hurricane Isabel in '03," said Steven Marshall, director of the Department of Emergency Services in Somerset County, Md.

Strong wind and saturated soil brought down trees and cut power to homes and businesses throughout the region.

Numerous roads were closed because of high water and firefighters reported calls from stranded motorists and some boaters who had to be rescued.

A sinkhole up to 30 feet wide and 10 feet deep led to the evacuation of three homes in Camp Springs, said Mark Brady, a Prince George's County fire department spokesman. The porch of one home collapsed into the hole.

A basement wall of a McLean, Va., home collapsed Monday after being weakened by water, Fairfax County fire department spokesman Dan Schmidt said. Crews were working to stabilize the home.

Along the Delaware coast, residents of several communities in Kent County were evacuated Monday because of flooding. National Guard troop carriers capable of driving through 6 feet of water rescued residents trapped by the high water. Flood warnings in the region were extended through early Tuesday.

About 30 people in Bowers, Del., fled to a fire station, with dozens of others seeking refuge elsewhere, said Willie Trowbridge, president of the town's fire department.

"We still have some people in their houses who have refused to leave," he said.

In Chesapeake Beach, firefighters said a man and a woman were slightly injured when high winds caused a house to collapse into a second home late Sunday.

The Coast Guard responded to a distress call from a private research ship off Rehoboth Beach, Del. Two people aboard the Russell W. Peterson activated an electronic beacon and reported the boat was breaking up and taking on water about 14 miles off the coast. A Coast Guard helicopter was on the scene and two Coast Guard boats were on the way.

The ship, named after a 91-year-old former Delaware governor, was christened in Wilmington just six weeks ago and was being used for the study migratory bird routes.

Farther up the coast, wind and rain caused average delays of up to 2 1/2 hours for flights heading into New York's three major airports. Wind gusted up to 46 mph at LaGuardia Airport and up to 43 mph in Manhattan, with gusts up to 50 mph in New Jersey, the National Weather Service said.

The foul weather also prevented the resumption of a Coast Guard search for a female passenger who fell overboard from a cruise ship off Atlantic City, N.J., on Sunday night. The Norwegian Dawn was headed for Bermuda from New York City when the incident occurred about 45 miles northeast of Atlantic City.

Strong wind also contributed to a fatal fire Monday morning in Newark, N.J., fanning flames of a blaze that killed a 50-year-old man and left 35 other people homeless in three buildings.

Weather service meteorologist Lee Robertson said the storm differs from a nor'easter because it is a combination of two weather systems, one from the Ohio Valley that contributed to weekend tornadoes and a second from just south of the Delmarva region of Delaware.

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Associated Press writer Todd Hallidy in Baltimore and Wayne Perry in Atlantic City, N.J., contributed to this report.


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