Flood victims still in the dark, stuck in mud

Fri Sep 2, 2011 2:32am EDT
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By Scott Malone

LUDLOW, Vermont (Reuters) - Residents of several Northeast states approached the Labor Day holiday weekend mired in mud and stuck in the dark on Thursday nearly a week after Hurricane Irene swallowed parts of the region with flooding.

About 1.1 million homes and businesses on the East Coast were still without electricity after Irene knocked out power to more than 6.7 million customers on its rampage last Saturday and Sunday.

The upcoming long weekend, normally a celebration of the end of summer, will be a wet, stinky mess for hundreds of thousands of homeowners who suffered damage, their cities and towns submerged under floodwaters in states such as New York, New Jersey and Vermont.

Hundreds of people were rescued in Paterson, New Jersey, one of several New York City suburbs that were under water while the city itself went relatively unscathed some 20 miles away.

In Vermont, the National Guard airlifted food and water to towns cut off by storm-damaged highways. Upstate New York saw rural mountain resorts flooded, ruining business for the holiday weekend.

"Everything smells like sewer because the water got up so high. It stinks so bad," Melody Hawkins, 55, said as she sat on the stoop of her home in Ludlow, one of more than a dozen towns in Vermont -- an inland state normally protected from tropical storms -- to face severe flooding.

"The thing that gets me is the dust. Look at the cars, they're all covered, and people still go barreling down the street, kicking it up," Hawkins said.

Lu Ann Wetherby, 67, said she had spent the past few days trying to clean the mud out of her basement.   Continued...

<p>The area around the Wayne auto dealership is seen flooded in Wayne, New Jersey, September 1, 2011, a few days after Hurricane Irene. REUTERS/ Mark Dye</p>