July 25, 2018 / 11:13 AM / a year ago

Water rescues, flooded roads as rains hammer U.S. mid-Atlantic

(Reuters) - Rescuers pulled people from inundated cars on flooded streets near Baltimore on Wednesday as heavy rain soaked the U.S. mid-Atlantic coast for a fifth day, swelling rivers, closing roads and imperiling homes.

Across the country, where separate downpours soaked parts of Colorado, a woman was found dead from apparent drowning in floodwaters that swept a basement apartment in suburban Denver, authorities said.

Heavy rains on the Eastern seaboard fell overnight from central New York state south through eastern North Carolina, where the National Weather Service forecast that a new round of downpours could cause more flooding. Eastern Virginia and Pennsylvania were also hard hit.

Emergency workers around Baltimore pulled people from at least three vehicles stuck in floodwater as deep as 3 feet (0.9 m), police and fire officials said on Twitter.

A National Weather Service bulletin warned the public to say away from high water, saying: “It doesn’t take much water to sweep away a person or vehicle.”

Authorities closed highways and roads in parts of Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia because of flooding.

“With the rainfall we have seen over the last week, the ground is very saturated, so any additional rainfall we receive ... really has nowhere to go,” NWS meteorologist Brandon Fling said.

The weather service said as much as 14 inches (36 cm) of rain had fallen along the East Coast since Saturday, swelling waterways well above flood levels.

Local news video showed water streaming into homes and businesses and reaching the tops of automobiles as rescue crews worked to save motorists.

“It just happened out of nowhere, and next thing my car was just shut off, and I’m like, ‘What do I do now?’” Zachary Reichert told NBC News after being rescued from his flooded Jeep in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania. “I can’t swim in the first place, so I wasn’t jumping into those waters.”

Airports in New York and Philadelphia reported delays of more than an hour.

Downpours and possible showers were forecast to linger across the region for several more days.

Separately, parts of Colorado were drenched with rain on Wednesday morning, where officials warned of flash flooding and debris in areas recently scarred by wildfires.

In the Denver suburb of Englewood, a 32-year-old woman died on Wednesday of injuries “consistent with drowning” after floodwaters inundated the basement apartment where she was staying, the Arapahoe County Coroner’s Office said.

Reporting by Brendan O'Brien in Milwaukee and Makini Brice in Washington; Additional reporting by Keith Coffman in Denver; Editing by Will Dunham and Peter Cooney

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