Emergency workers plucked dozens of residents from doorways and windows as Hurricane Irene's floodwaters rose on Tuesday, swallowing homes, submerging cars and turning the streets of this workingclass town into lakes.
While Hurricane Irene's paralyzing rampage through the U.S. Northeast largely spared New York City, it caused the worst flooding in decades in inland areas of New York state, NewJersey and Vermont. The storm has been blamed for the deaths ofabout 40 people.
Search and rescue teams working in Paterson, New Jersey have pulled nearly 600 people from homes in recent days with the most intense efforts on Tuesday when the Passaic Rivermeasured 13 feet (4 metres) above flood stage, the highest level since 1903, said Paterson police Sgt. Alex Popov.
Firefighters rescued some by boat and the National Guard saved others by truck, taking them to a Red Cross shelter.
"Some are standing there in the doorway. Some are coming out of their windows," Popov said.
"It's raging," he said of the Passaic, which runs through the center of town, about 20 miles (32 kilometers) outside NewYork City.
Along the banks of the swollen, rushing brown river, residents sought to save what they could from homes submergedin waist-high water. Others stood along the river's edge, snapping pictures of the devastation.
"I'm from this area and this is the worst that I've seen here, the farthest up this water has come," said Peter Hennen, 63, who traveled from south Jersey to help his son, a homeownerin Paterson, rig up pumps to remove water.
"Everybody thought the (Jersey) shore was going to be devastating," he said. "But people here forgot about the media telling them the storm's 500 miles wide, so the rest of Jerseygot hit."
Authorities expected the river to begin receding later on Tuesday.
Clear skies in the U.S. northeast aided rescue efforts, but hundreds of thousands of homes were damaged, some swept away by rivers already swollen by an unusually wet summer.
Irene hit North Carolina as a hurricane and moved north over major East Coast cities, then weakened to a tropical storm over New England and dissipated after tracking into Canada.
Some of the worst damage was not along the coast, but in towns located inland.
In Vermont, officials planned to airlift food and water to towns cut off by the floodwaters. Some 260 Vermont roads remained closed and the state was beginning to deploy crews ofworkers, backed up by the National Guard, to repair them.
Vermonters already beaten down by the prolonged U.S. economic slump saw homes and cars washed away, and were then faced with washed out roads that complicated their recoveryfrom the state's worst flooding in more than 80 years.
"Economically, I'm devastated," said Betsey Reagan, owner of Dot's Diner in West Dover, Vermont. "Who knows what is goingto happen? ... We'll miss the (autumn) foliage season, who knows what the winter is going to be like? Tourists can't comeif the roads aren't open."
The timing of the storm, at the end of summer and before the Labor Day holiday weekend, was particularly troubling for business owners whose peak season comes in the fall and winterwhen visitors flock to see forests turn color and for skiing.
The state planned to distribute food and water to towns cut off from supplies due to road outages. In some cases those supplies would be airlifted in, said Mark Bosma, a spokesmanfor the Vermont Division of Emergency Management.
"The worst one"
In New York City, the streets buzzed anew, the bustle slowed only temporarily by an unprecedented preemptive shutdown of its mass transit system and Saturday's evacuation order.
Utilities restored electricity to roughly half the 6.7 million customers who had power knocked out, and New York Citymass transit and air travel crept back to normal.
The New Jersey suburbs were another matter. Train service returned to normal, but many commuters remained at home assessing damage to flooded basements, clearing out downed treebranches or, in the worse cases, waiting for waters to recede.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said flooding would likely continue over the next 48 hours.
"For members of these communities who have lost everything, relief cannot come soon enough for them," he said after a tour of the flooded area. "We can't fathom what these folks havebeen going through."
In Wayne, New Jersey, Mike Holland, 44, paddled his canoe away from his trailer home. The water was so deep that three cars were almost completely submerged on his street, which likeseveral others resembled a small lake.
Holland said he was used to floods but that "this is the worst one."
"I had raised my trailer for the height of the 1984 flood plus 8 inches (20 cm) but this was the '84 flood plus 12. It'san easy fix but it's a pain," Holland said.
Marguerite Ball, another resident of Wayne, described the flooding as "heartbreaking" for the working class area.
"I've never seen flooding like has taken place in the last few years," Ball said. "People just get cleaned out, cleaned up, rebuild -- and it happens again and again."
Two hours north, in Windham, New York, a town of about 1,700 known for its ski resort, the main street was swamped with deep muddy ditches, sidewalks had disappeared and debriswas piled high.
"Where do you start?" said one National Guardsman, surveying damage in the heart of the ski town.
Irene killed around 40 people in 11 states, in addition to three who died in the Dominican Republic and one in Puerto Ricowhen the storm was still in the Caribbean, authorities said.
Total economic damage could reach $20 billion, said Standard & Poor's Senior Economist Beth Ann Bovino.
Hundreds of thousands of homes suffered damage, raising questions about how much would be covered by insurance as manyhomeowner policies do not cover flood damage.
U.S. President Barack Obama pledged aid for cash-strapped states and cities, but the federal money was not expected to cover all the costs for local jurisdictions already facing afiscal crisis.
Senate set to vote on eform package on Tuesday 6 pm, before National Assembly takes it up next week
UK capital needs greater powers following Brexit decision, Sadiq Khan says
As UK's Conservative Party prepares for post-Brexit leadership race, British leader David Cameron travels to Brussels
Talks on Chapter 33 which deals with financial and budgetary provisions to begin on Thursday, Turkey's EU ambassador confirms
Detractors say new report does not increase Rousseff’s chances of returning to office
Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has raised the prospect of a new EU referendum and has announced that he may be a possible candidate to be the next leader of the Conservative Party.
Hamas has thanked Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for his support following a reconciliation pact with Israel
Israeli police have temporarily closed Al-Aqsa mosque until Thursday after clashes occurred between IDF soldiers and Muslim worshippers
Kremlin says Turkish leader pledges to repair diplomatic relations after November incident near Turkey-Syria border.
Long-running legal fight se Jacob Zuma ordered to repay money spent on non-security upgrades to private residence
US Secretary of State predicts 'even stronger NATO going forward' following UK's vote to leave EU
Lithuania, concerned about losing a strong defender of Russian sanctions in the EU, has called for a gradual British exit from the EU that preserves ties with London.
German Chancellor emphasizes there will be no informal talks with UK until Britain formally expresses intent to leave EU
Riyad al-Maliki says pleased with Turkey's efforts to ease blockade and deliver aid in Gaza
Pool safety poster portrays white children as 'cool', black children 'not cool'
Moscow has said that the US has harrassed its own diplomats and that any action on their part was only a "response"