Massive snowstorm brings flooding to East Coast
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — A massive winter storm that dumped snow on the eastern United States is also raising flood waters in communities up and down the Atlantic Coast, closing roads and prompting evacuations, authorities said Saturday.
In New Jersey, a string of resort towns were temporarily isolated by flood waters when the tide came in.
“When the water just started rushing down, it was as impressive as some of the videos you saw of Japan during the tsunamis,” said Jason Pellegrini, owner of Steak Out restaurant in Sea Isle City, who was trapped inside by floodwaters.
“It came in that fast,” he said.
Another restaurant, The Lobster House, was partly submerged by the rising tide more than 20 miles away in Cape May.
“It touched everywhere,” said Keith Laudeman, the third-generation owner of the nearly century old establishment on Cape May Harbor. “It even got to the equipment we moved and never thought would get touched.”
The water quickly receded. And Laudeman said he has a whole crew of people preparing to clean the place so they can reopen in the coming days.
“I had more water than I had when Sandy came through,” he said. “We had a lot of wind. Fortunately, none of the boats broke loose.”
In Delaware, flooding closed a popular route to the state’s beaches and forced about a dozen people to be evacuated from the low-lying community of Oak Orchard.
“The biggest issue … is that people can’t get out,” said Gov. Jack Markell, adding that the flooding was not unexpected.
“They see this coming because it does tend to happen,” he said.
Gale warnings are in effect through Sunday morning along the North Carolina coast, the National Weather Service said, with winds of 30 mph expected along with rough seas of six to nine feet.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo also said that “coastal flooding remains a concern along parts of Long Island” during Saturday night’s high tide.
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe shared the same fears about the Chesapeake Bay. Water had already covered some roads in the city of Norfolk, which is prone to flooding.
Officials in New Jersey were just starting to assess damage caused by the flooding. By noon, the water began to recede, allowing emergency responders to visit inundated areas, said Diane Wieland, a spokeswoman for Cape May County.
“It’s not just coastal flooding from the ocean but the bay as well,” she said. “And the wind is holding the water in.”
Firefighters even descended into a flooded area of Sea Isle City to battle a blaze at another restaurant that may have been linked to the high waters, she said.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said subsequent high tides shouldn’t bring as much flooding as towns saw Saturday morning.
For some, the storm has been almost fun.
“This is the weather I’ve been waiting for,” said Fidel Montalvan, who was visiting Atlantic City for a karate convention. “In Florida, all we have is sun all year round you get tired you get bored.”
Finley reported from Philadelphia. Associated Press reporters Randall Chase in Dover, Delaware, and Ed Donahue in Washington contributed to this report.