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Dried-Out Washington All Ready to Celebrate

As the Northeast recovers from flooding, D.C.'s attractions are back open for July 4.

July 03, 2006|From the Associated Press

WASHINGTON — One week after the nation's capital experienced some of its worst flooding in more than a century, museums and other attractions were dried out and open for the Fourth of July holiday weekend.

Elsewhere in the Northeast, thousands of people were still clearing away debris and grime, or were still homeless after record flooding blamed for at least 20 deaths in Pennsylvania, Maryland, New York and Virginia.

As many as 500,000 people were expected Tuesday evening for the annual Capitol Fourth concert and fireworks display over the Washington Monument.

The Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History and the National Museum of American History were closed most of last week, primarily because of power failures associated with the flooding, but have reopened.

"We've dried out very nicely," said Becky Haberacker, a Smithsonian spokeswoman.

Two other museums, the National Portrait Gallery and the Smithsonian American Art Museum, held their grand reopening after six years of renovations in the Old Patent Office Building, which escaped flood damage.

The National Archives remained closed while experts dried out the basement.

In a Trenton, N.J., neighborhood called the Island, hit by three major floods since fall 2004, Sunday was the first day residents were able to return home with contractors to begin cleaning up and making repairs.

In Bloomsburg, Pa., about 12,000 people were still being told to boil their tap water because the system was damaged by the floods.

Hundreds of people were still using shelters across upstate New York, and uncounted others were in hotels, motels and the homes of friends and relatives waiting for permission to return home.

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