Irene Havoc Persists In N.J., Vermont

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NEWARK, N.J., Aug. 31 (UPI) — Three days after Hurricane Irene passed through, some towns in Vermont could still be reached only by helicopter Wednesday.

In New Jersey, where thousands of people were evacuated from two high-rise buildings in Paterson Tuesday, floodwaters were not expected to recede for several days along the Passaic River, The Star-Ledger of Newark reported.

Irene, which tracked up the coast from the Carolinas to New York and then moved inland, did less damage than expected in many seaside areas. But the storm, which moved slightly west of its predicted track, brought heavy rain to areas in New Jersey, New York state and Vermont, where rivers were already high and ground was saturated.

The storm has been blamed for at least 43 deaths, CNN reported. In Lawrenceville, N.J., it claimed one more life Tuesday when a man trying to clear standing water from his property was sucked into a storm drain, WCAU-TV, Philadelphia, said. His body was found hours later.

Marc Leibovitz of New York told CNN he is stranded in Pittsfield, Vt., with his new wife and their wedding guests.

“There’s several bridges down on Route 100. There’s a road that just caved in,” he said. “There’s several houses in town that we watched floating. It’s been scary.”

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said most of the area struck by Irene is now in the cleanup and repair phase, CNN reported. The Passaic River area and Vermont are the big exceptions.

In Fairfield, N.J., downstream from Paterson, Deputy Police Chief Anthony Manna told the Star-Ledger much of the town could remain underwater for six to eight days.

“I’ve been here since 1955 and I’ve never seen Fairfield get this flooded,” said Stephen Conte, 61. “I’m astounded by it. It’s like the Twilight Zone. It’s surreal.”

In Trenton, floodwaters from Assunpink Creek that covered the rail lines at the train station finally receded Tuesday, allowing rail service to resume Wednesday on the Northeast Corridor for the first time since the storm.

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