Storms whip eastern U.S.

BY SUSAN KIM | Baltimore, MD | December 18, 2000

Storms caused widespread damage across the eastern U.S. over the weekend.

In New York, more than 4.5 inches of rain fell on Sunday, causing flooding in the town of Salem in Washington County. Twenty-two people were evacuated from their homes Sunday night. "At this time many homes and businesses have reported heavy flood damage," reported James Natoli, director of state operations for the New York State Emergency Management Office.

Flooding was also reported in Saratoga and in Albany, where city schools were closed on Monday. In those communities, residents reported flooded basements, downed trees, and flooded roads. A total of 10 communities in New York declared states of emergency on Sunday.

The same band of storms brought heavy rain to New Jersey, causing streams to rise over flood stage and sending water into some homes. "We're in the process of talking to our counties," said Mike Augustyniak, public information officer for the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management. "What it appeared to be was a series of cells of wind and flash rains. Fortunately, they were short-lived cells and the streams were able to recede. We did have some issues where houses got flooded. There was a smattering of flooding all over the place."

In Tennessee, rain and wind destroyed a mobile home, and caused damage to silos and grain bins, according to Kurt Pickering, public information officer for the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency. "We had other minor damage, most of it caused by straight-line winds," he said. "In one weekend, we had severe thunderstorms, winds, and floods, then the next day it was snowing. In Tennessee, that's kind of a problem," he said.

Massachusetts also saw high winds, with 78 mph gusts clocked in New Bedford. Officials took down the steeple of Our Lady of Fatima Church because it was in danger of being knocked over by wind. In Cambridge, a construction site experienced a partial collapse and, in Boston, scaffolding at the State House was wind-damaged, according to Peter Judge, public information officer with the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency.

The storm system caused a record-breaking warm temperature in Boston of 64 degrees. "There were basically hurricane-force winds. We're still checking and making phone calls," he said. "A few spots got more than three inches of rain. But if there was any river flooding, these is usually a delayed reaction."

New Hampshire had flooding on its roadways from "a mixture of just about any weather you could imagine," said Jim Van Dongen, public information officer for New Hampshire emergency management.

Maine has set up shelters for people who are still without power, added Lynette Miller of the Maine Emergency Management Agency.

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