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Hundreds Forced to Flee Flooding

Weather: Storm-related deaths mount to 42. Some New York, Pennsylvania residents begin cleanup.

January 22, 1996| From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Flooding on the Ohio River forced hundreds of people from their homes Sunday, while residents upstream in Pennsylvania and New York scraped mud from soaked homes and businesses.

The burst of flooding, snow, ice and cold has been blamed for at least 42 deaths from the Plains to New England. In upstate New York, five members of one family died when a washed-out road sent their car into a reservoir.

"It's just a big puddle of soup," said Tami Taylor of Harrisburg, Pa., whose apartment building was closed. "It looks like there's 10 feet of water in there, at least."

Officials in many areas had not yet fully measured the damage.

The snow-swollen Potomac River hit Washington with another bout of winter misery, causing what is expected to be the city's worst flooding in a decade.

The Potomac rose to 7 feet above flood level, causing closures of several areas near riverbanks.

Sections of the George Washington Parkway--the main route to Washington National Airport--were shut, forcing travelers to use local streets. The Chain Bridge, which links Washington to the Virginia suburbs, was also closed.

In the Georgetown area, sandbags were packed in front of stores.

A stretch of seafood restaurants on Maine Avenue was cut off, as was Independence Avenue, which runs along the Mall between the Washington Monument and the Capitol.

Across the river in Alexandria, Va., authorities were requiring residents to move their cars from areas along the Potomac.

President Clinton declared Pennsylvania a disaster area Sunday because of the flooding, but Gov. Thomas J. Ridge, who spent the night at a state police barracks after his residence in Harrisburg flooded, complained of a slow response from the federal government and said he would ask for more aid than was already pledged to offset the costs of a raging blizzard 12 days ago.

New Jersey also will press for federal disaster aid, Gov. Christie Whitman said Sunday.

The Ohio River crested Sunday at several spots along West Virginia's northern Panhandle.

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