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Rainstorm deluges southern New Jersey, closing airport and roads

August 22, 1997

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) _ A freak summer flood lashed southern New Jersey with 13 1/2 inches of rain in 24 hours, leaving behind basements full of muck, ruined carpets, collapsed overpasses and millions in damages.

Communities just inland from Atlantic City, including Galloway, Hamilton and Egg Harbor townships, were the hardest hit. Galloway Township Manager Andrew Katz said the damage could surpass $40 million in his community alone.

No deaths or serious injuries were reported, but several people had to be rescued from their cars, according to Michael Schurmann, deputy director of emergency management for Atlantic County.

At the height of the storm, which slammed southeastern New Jersey Wednesday and early Thursday, about 16,000 homes were without power and key access roads into Atlantic City were under several feet of water. Atlantic City and its hotels and casinos, however, were spared from serious flooding.

The flood washed out more than a half-dozen bridges and dozens of roads.

``At 1:30, I heard a noise, and I looked outside, and I said to my husband, `Look! The water’s up to the picnic table,‴ said Cathy Hulse of Pomona.

Gov. Christie Whitman, who toured the area late Thursday, pledged to seek federal disaster relief and dispatch teams of state Banking and Insurance officials to help hard-hit homeowners.

Atlantic City residents were told to boil their water before drinking it because floodwaters covered basins containing treated water.

Flooding forced New Jersey Transit to suspend service on rail lines from Atlantic City west to Egg Harbor because about 180 feet of track had washed out. Passengers on eastbound trains were transferred to buses for the ride to this gambling city.

Atlantic City International Airport was closed early Thursday after power was knocked out to runway lights and street flooding blocked access to the terminals, stranding 120 passengers for the night.

The airport reopened later in the morning, but the main roads leading to it remained flooded and impassable.

The rain totaled 13.52 inches at the airport, breaking a record set July 10, 1949, when 6.46 inches fell. It was the most rainfall recorded for any single day at the airport.

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