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Flooding recedes, leaving devastation

Wed., April 18, 2007

MAMARONECK, N.Y. – As the floodwaters receded Tuesday homeowners picked through ruined belongings and priceless keepsakes trying to determine what they’d lost.

Hundreds of thousands were still without power from Maine to North Carolina and many residents of Bound Brook, N.J., were still barred from their homes Tuesday as flooding persisted from the spring nor’easter that has killed at least 17 people.

In Mamaroneck, described by Gov. Eliot Spitzer as the “the epicenter of the damage done here in the state,” discarded belongings damaged by the flooded Sheldrake River lined an avenue.

Trash in the middle-class neighborhood included refrigerators, stoves, mattresses, dressers, a karaoke machine, even a 30-gallon aquarium somehow ruined by water.

On Mamaroneck Avenue, the village’s main road, merchants were assessing the damage caused by 6.75 inches of rain and floodwaters from the Sheldrake and Mamaroneck rivers that reached as high as 5 feet in their stores.

Vincent Marconi, owner of Tri-City Auto Parts, said the store lost $75,000 in equipment, including all its computers and cash register. Flood insurance had been too expensive, he said.

“You work your whole life and you find something like this,” Marconi said. “It’s an emotional roller coaster. Now you have to fight your way back.”

In New Jersey, electricity had been shut off to the low-lying central community of Bound Brook – which received 9 inches of rain – and the stench of heating oil from flooded basements hung in the air.

Nearly 1,000 residents were still barred from their homes until crews could determine the structures were safe, said Hal Dietrich, Bound Brook’s emergency management coordinator.

“If they go in too soon and turn something on that’s not right, they could kill themselves,” Dietrich said. “We lost four houses during the flood that caught fire and burned to the ground because we couldn’t get the fire trucks to them through the water.”

More than a quarter-million customers were without power Tuesday afternoon in North Carolina, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, and Vermont. A spokeswoman for Central Vermont Public Service warned that some homes could be in the dark through Saturday.

“This is one of the most devastating storms the company has seen in our 77-year history,” spokeswoman Christine Rivers said. “It’s hurricane-like damage.”


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