LUMBERTON, N.J. (AP) – Water receded Wednesday from some communities that were hardest hit by flooding, but more residents were evacuated because of fears of contamination or electrical short-circuits.

More heavy rain was forecast across the region later in the day.

No serious injuries were reported but floodwater damaged hundreds of houses, stalled cars, breached small dams and closed highways and smaller roads in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland.

As many as 200 people were told to leave their homes Wednesday morning in this Delaware River town because of contaminated water and a threat of electrocutions from short circuits, an official said.

The rising morning tide backed up creeks that drain into the lower Delaware, said David Wyche, assistant public information officer for Burlington County.

“They have to view all flood water as being contaminated,” Wyche said. “If they’ve had 3 feet of water in the house, that’s all got to be scrubbed and cleaned. There’s a lot of issues they have to be aware of.”

He said other Burlington County communities hit hard by the torrential rain that started late Monday appeared to be fine.

At the height of the flooding, more than 750 people were forced from their homes in south-central New Jersey. Wyche said he did not yet know how many were still out of their homes Wednesday.

More than 13 inches of rain fell in 12 hours in Burlington County. It was classified as a “1,000-year” storm, the National Weather Service said.

Severe storms with the potential for more heavy downpours were possible late Wednesday in the same states hit by Tuesday’s floods.

The weather service said rain could fall at a rate of more than 2 inches per hour.

New Jersey Gov. James E. McGreevey called a state of emergency in two counties Tuesday and lawmakers asked President Bush to declare portions of southern New Jersey a federal disaster area.

New Jersey state officials said Wednesday they could not yet estimate the cost of the damage. A portion of state Route 70, a major route to the Jersey Shore, was expected to remain closed for a week to 10 days because a bridge was washed out, transportation officials said.

Smyrna, Del., received more than 11 inches of rain, possibly ranking it as a 500-year storm, the weather service said.

High water in Maryland damaged about 80 homes, and road flooding and bridge damage closed some highways, tying up traffic through much of the day.

In Pennsylvania, Tammy Spiese was trying to clear debris on her property near Reading when rising water carried her into a drainage pipe. She had to be pulled out by her husband and a police officer.

“I was in the water up to my neck,” Spiese said. “It was very powerful and I had to hold onto the rocks above.”


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