NEW YORK - A fierce nor'easter drenched the Northeast, with record rainfall causing severe flooding that canceled schools, cut electricity, forced people to evacuate and slowed the morning commute Monday.
Rain began falling early Sunday along the East Coast from Florida to New England and continued Monday morning in the New York area and New England. The storm was especially harsh in the suburbs north of New York City, where flooding led two communities to declare states of emergency and the National Guard was sent to help with rescue and evacuation efforts.
Firefighters plucked Kathleen Reale and her twin boys from their window in suburban Mamaroneck using a front-end-loader. Water reached up to her knees in her garage and basement and her family was evacuated to a shelter.
"I mean everything will be ruined," she said Monday. "Everything will be gone. It's unbelievable."
The shelter was filled to capacity Monday morning with about 300 people sleeping on cots. Mamaroneck, in Westchester County, called for a voluntary evacuation for coastal areas on Long Island Sound.
The rain totaled 7.81 inches in Central Park from early Sunday to Monday morning, the National Weather Service said.
The previous record in the park for April 15 was just 1.8 inches, set in 1906. On Sunday, more than 5.5 inches fell. Suburban New Rochelle recorded more than 6.75 inches.
In Westchester County, north of New York City, all public schools were closed Monday. Cars were stalled in water on numerous roads and several major highways were closed at times by flooding. Schools were also reported closed in parts of New Jersey, where numerous highways were flooded.
More than 190,000 homes and businesses lost power because of the storm.
Airlines canceled more than 500 flights at the New York area's three major airports on Sunday as wind gusted to 48 mph, said Steve Coleman, a spokesman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Dozens more were canceled in Philadelphia, Boston and elsewhere in New England.
"We came up to see the city," said Amby Lewis, the leader of a girl scout troop from North Carolina who was stranded at LaGuardia airport. "And the lovely weather rolled in and we've been stuck ever since."
The storm also temporarily halted commuter trains and halted ferry service to Fire Island. Some residents had to take to streets in boats in Queens.
The storm gave runners in Monday's Boston Marathon something to worry about besides Heartbreak Hill as the course was doused with several inches of rain driven by wind gusting to more than 30 mph.
"When you live in the Northeast, you've got to respect this kind of weather," said marathoner Rob Comitz, 31, from Harleysville, Pa.
Power outages affected more than 10,000 households and businesses in the New York area and more than 55,000 customers elsewhere in the state, more than 43,000 across Connecticut, at least 46,000 in New Hampshire, and 12,000 in Massachusetts, utility officials said.
More than 25,000 customers were blacked out Monday in Vermont after 17 inches of wet, heavy snow brought down tree limbs on power lines. "We have incredible amounts of damage," said Steve Costello, a spokesman for Central Vermont Public Service.
The governors of Maine, West Virginia and New Jersey declared states of emergency. The governors of New Jersey and Connecticut urged residents to stay home from work and off the roads. New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer deployed 3,200 members of the National Guard to areas where flooding was possible.
In southeastern New Hampshire, parts of downtown Newmarket were evacuated because of flooding.
Hundreds of people living below an earthen dam near Hamlin, W.Va., were urged to evacuate because of concerns that heavy rain had destabilized the structure. Dozens of people were evacuated from homes in flooded areas on Sunday.
At least three tornadoes touched down Sunday in South Carolina. One cut a 14-mile-long, 300-yard-wide swath through Sumter County in the central part of the state, killing a woman and seriously injuring four other people.
One person was killed by a tornado in South Carolina, and two died in car accidents - one in upstate New York and one in Connecticut. The storm rattled the Gulf states Friday and Saturday with violent thunderstorms after taking Texas with at least two tornadoes, and it was blamed for five deaths in Texas and Kansas.