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Hundreds of thousands flee Northeast floods

At least 10 dead as streams rise from New York to Virginia



(CNN) -- At least 10 people were killed and hundreds of thousands displaced in the U.S. Northeast as major rivers and their tributaries overflowed their banks Wednesday.

The torrential rain -- which averaged a half-inch an hour in some areas -- has already devastated areas from Virginia to upstate New York. Emergency officials were predicting that Thursday could bring more destruction.

In southeastern Pennsylvania's Bucks County, where evacuations began Wednesday, the Delaware River is expected to crest Thursday about 8 feet above flood stage, emergency services coordinator John Dougherty said. (Watch a restaurant sink in an instant -- :42)

"It's already starting over its banks," he said.

Nearby, the town of New Hope also began evacuations ahead of the Delaware's expected crest. Dougherty said floodwater Thursday will likely engulf shops and homes along the main street.

In Rockville, Maryland, engineers have their fingers crossed that an earthen dam near the Washington suburb will hold. Though officials said the dam appeared sturdy Wednesday, about 1,200 homes in the area were evacuated, a spokeswoman for Montgomery County's emergency operations center said. (Map)

The Susquehanna River threatened to cause more problems in Pennsylvania. As the river swelled Wednesday, up to 200,000 residents in the Wilkes-Barre area were ordered to evacuate, Luzerne County officials said.

One of those leaving, Laura Lockman, told The Associated Press she wasn't ordered to evacuate. But she said she wasn't taking any chances after water from a previous flood once reached the second floor of her home, a half-mile from the Susquehanna.

"I just want to get out of here. I just want to be safe, that's all," said Lockman, 42.

Wilkes-Barre got about a foot of rain in 24 hours, and Luzerne County spokeswoman Kathy Bozinski said the 41-foot-high dikes were just holding back the Susquehanna.

Officials are concerned, she said, because the river, which was measured at 38 feet Wednesday afternoon, was not expected to crest until Wednesday night.

About 80 miles upstream in Binghamton, New York, the Susquehanna spilled into city streets, covering cars, flooding homes and prompting a mandatory evacuation of as many as 15,000 residents, officials said.

James Adams was one of those. He evacuated his family's home near Binghamton after he and relatives watched their shed float away and their cars become submerged, the AP reported.

"We lost just about everything -- the cars, the clothes, even the baby's crib," he said. "I'm not sure what we are going to do."

Gov. George Pataki ordered 125 National Guard troops to Binghamton, and Mayor Matthew Ryan said the Susquehanna was expected to rise another 5 feet by Thursday. (Watch floodwaters threaten homes -- 1:11)

Flood toll

"The situation right now is very serious," Ryan said.

About 30 miles to the northeast of Binghamton, a rising creek washed out a section of Interstate 88 in Sidney, New York, causing wrecks that killed two truckers when they drove their trucks into 25-foot holes hidden by floodwaters, state police said. The highway was closed.

The weather also was blamed for two traffic deaths in Pennsylvania and one in Maryland, according to the AP. (Watch Pennsylvania bracing for more floods -- 2:41)

In Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, a father drowned when he jumped into rushing waters to save his teenage son who had been swept away, said county spokeswoman Kathy Bozinski. His son was killed, too, she said.

In Myersville, Maryland, three people died after floodwaters swept them out of a pickup truck just minutes after they were rescued from a car stranded in rising waters late Tuesday, authorities said.

Also in Frederick County, a search was set to resume Thursday morning for two teenagers who are feared to have drowned in a rain-swollen creek, police said.

In Alleghany County, Virginia, teams found the body of 8-year-old Niki Godbold in a creek, the county sheriff said. The girl had been missing since Tuesday afternoon.

Virginia Gov. Timothy Kane declared a statewide emergency because of the flooding and mudslides that have washed out more than 225 roads since Friday.

Pennsylvania Gov. Edward Rendell declared a state of emergency for 46 counties.

Rescues abound

Pennsylvania National Guard troops and a Coast Guard helicopter worked to rescue hundreds of people trapped in upper floors of their homes and on roofs in Wilkes-barre and Liberty, and the Coast Guard estimated that as many as 300 people may need to be rescued by helicopter.(More floods ahead in Pennsylvania -- 2:41)

In Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania, at least 500 residents had made it to shelters, but many roads were under 6 to 8 feet of water, complicating efforts to reach about 400 people believed to be stranded in their homes, said Emergency Operations Coordinator Mark Wood.

"We're trying to get to these people as quickly as possible, but the roads are blocked and we're just doing our best," Wood said.

In Wayne County, Pennsylvania, floodwaters forced emergency workers to relocate their headquarters, and they may have to move it again, said County Commissioner Donald Olsommer. In Bucks County, a fire stations had to be evacuated after the Perkiomen creek flooded, officials said.

The widespread flooding followed a weekend of rain so heavy that it was more appropriate to the tropics than the northern and mid-Atlantic United States, said CNN meteorologist Chad Myers.

He said the tropical rainfall of 2 to 3 inches per hour led to a flooding situation that might occur once every 20 years.

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