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Deadly storm sends water levels skyrocketing on Northeast rivers and at the coast, forcing evacuations

By Nouran Salahieh, Mary Gilbert, Joe Sutton and Robert Shackelford, CNN

(CNN) — A powerful storm that battered a large swath of the eastern US, knocking out power across several states and leading to multiple rescues, delivered its final blow to New England Wednesday. Here’s the latest:

Swollen waterways force evacuations: Multiple rivers were at major flood stage in the eastern US Wednesday, most of them in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic. Flooding forced evacuations in New Jersey and in Connecticut, where the Yantic River came perilously close to hitting a record high level and a dam was damaged.

• Storm turns deadly: At least four deaths were reported in AlabamaGeorgia and North Carolina as storms walloped the states with fierce winds, rain and tornadoes. An 81-year-old woman was among them after her Cottonwood, Alabama, mobile home was flipped multiple times Tuesday, according to Houston County Commission Chairman Brandon Shoupe.

• Widespread power outages amid cold temperatures: The number of power outages dropped as the storm moved away, but more than 120,000 homes and businesses were in the dark Wednesday night in the eastern US, primarily in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Vermont and Maine, according to And high temperatures in the Northeast were expected to top out only in the 30s and 40s Wednesday, leaving many without power in frigid weather.

• Tornado reports and damage left behind: The storm generated 25 tornado reports across Texas, Alabama, Florida, Georgia and South Carolina since Monday. In South Carolina, “significant damage” from a potential tornado was reported in the city of Bamberg, 60 miles south of Columbia, where the century-old City Hall building collapsed, according to city clerk-treasurer Robin Chavis.

Flights canceled: More than 1,350 flights were canceled and more than 8,700 flights were delayed on Tuesday, according to data from FlightAware. Some of those are due to the grounding of the Boeing 737 Max 9, but thunderstorms caused significant disruptions in Atlanta, Dallas-Fort Worth, Florida and North Carolina airports.

• Dangerous driving conditions: In Iowa, a section of Interstate 80 had to be closed down Tuesday afternoon due to whiteout conditions that led to a multi-vehicle crash. In Kansas, around 30 people, including children, got stranded and had to be rescued from vehicles and taken to a high school during blizzard and whiteout conditions Monday.

Another storm is coming: A storm much like this one is set to hammer many of the same areas with all hazards Friday and Saturday. The storm will take a similar path, meaning severe thunderstorms and tornadoes are once again possible in the Southeast, snow is possible in the Midwest and rain and wind will once again return to the East Coast.

In the storm’s path? Bookmark CNN’s lite site for fast connectivity on low bandwidth.

River flooding triggers evacuations, threatens dam

The river flood threat was increasing in parts of the Northeast Wednesday morning, even as the rain ended.

Heavy rain Tuesday night sent water levels skyrocketing by more than 10 feet in 12 hours on Connecticut’s Yantic River.

The river reached its highest level in more than 40 years early Wednesday morning and damaged a dam. The dam has not been breached or collapsed, but is “failing,” a Connecticut Emergency Management and Homeland Security official told CNN

Evacuations were ordered near Norwich, Connecticut, for areas bordering the river, Connecticut emergency management said on X, formerly Twitter. A precautionary evacuation was also in place for Bozrah, Connecticut.

A nearby power substation was pulled offline in order “to avoid potentially catastrophic damage to our infrastructure,” the Norwich Public Utilities wrote in a Facebook statement.

More than 5,000 people were without power Wednesday morning, which cannot be restored until river flooding eases, utility spokesperson Chris Riley told CNN.

River gauges on the Pompton and Saddle rivers in northern New Jersey also reached major flood stage on Wednesday morning.

Some residents in Oakland, New Jersey, were forced to evacuate their homes Wednesday morning due to significant flooding from a nearby lake, according to local officials. The flooding occurred just north of where the Pompton River hit major flood stage.

Portions of the state’s Passaic River are also forecast to hit major flood stage by Wednesday night when floodwaters begin to crest.

River levels will remain elevated across much of the East this week and will likely be on the rise again once the next storm arrives at the end of the week and early weekend.

Historic coastal flooding hits East Coast

Strong winds in excess of 50 mph blowing onshore Wednesday morning across the Northeast and mid-Atlantic coupled with high tides caused significant storm surge and flooding, with water levels reaching historic high levels at multiple locations along the coast.

Water levels surged to their highest on record Wednesday morning in Philadelphia and Bar Harbor, Maine. A gauge in Portland, Maine, recorded its third-highest water level.

Dangerous storm surge flooding unfolded across the southern Maine coast Wednesday.

“I haven’t seen storm surge like this in years,” Wells, Maine, Police Chief Jo-Ann Putnam told CNN.

“We have a lot of debris on the roads and water has come up through the homes,” Putnam added.

Just north of Wells in Kennebunk, officials strongly discouraged travel along the coast, sharing dramatic video of water surging onshore at high tide as large waves crashed in the distance.

In the mid-Atlantic, Annapolis, Maryland, recorded its third-highest water level on record sending floodwater into the city.

Downtown businesses were surrounded by as much as 18 inches of floodwater Wednesday morning, a city spokesperson told CNN.

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CNN Meteorologists Taylor Ward and Brandon Miller, and CNN’s Sara Smart, Rob Frehse, Amy Simonson, Jillian Sykes, Jamiel Lynch, Isabel Rosales, Wes Bruer, Chris Boyette, Gregory Wallace, Pete Muntean and Nic F. Anderson contributed to this report.

Article Topic Follows: CNN-Weather/Environment

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