TRENTON, N.J. (AP) – Flooding from a weekend of drenching rain forced thousands of people from their homes in New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania and closed the New Jersey Statehouse on Monday.

Police recovered the body of a woman who had been swept away by floodwaters in eastern New York state and were still searching for passengers who were inside a van that had been recovered from a swollen creek.

In New Jersey, where about 3,500 people were evacuated, acting Gov. Richard J. Codey estimated property damage would approach $30 million, close to the amount caused by Hurricane Ivan last September.

“The Delaware River is calling the shots right now,” said state police Superintendent Col. Joseph “Rick” Fuentes. The river was expected to crest Monday, but it could take until the end of the week for the water to recede enough for people to return home.

Codey declared a state of emergency on Sunday and barred nonessential state workers from Trenton on Monday. At one point, water was 6 feet deep in the bottom level of the Statehouse parking garage, just yards from the Delaware River.

In the hardest-hit areas along the Delaware, water lapped against roofs.

“It was like someone was taking a squeegee and just pushing the water forward,” said Bertram King, 20, one of about 15 people evacuated from a homeless shelter in Easton, Pa.

At a playground near the Pompton River, the water rose to a few feet below the level of a basketball rim. Some residents who had remained in their homes glided down the aptly named Island Street in rowboats, using snow shovels as paddles.

Along the Delaware, about 800 people were evacuated from their homes Sunday in Port Jervis, N.Y., at the point where the three states meet. At least 100 of them spent the night at a high school. And at Cincinnatus, N.Y., a river flooded a nursing home, forcing out about 35 residents.

High water also closed roads and several schools in eastern New York’s Hudson Valley.

Police in Deposit, N.Y., near the Pennsylvania line, resumed the search Monday for the occupants of a van that was swept away by a creek Sunday. Police did not identify the missing or confirm how many people they were looking for.

In Ulster County, the body of 58-year-old Maria Fuentes was found Monday after her SUV flipped over in fast-moving water. Her 21-year-old daughter grabbed onto a tree and was rescued.

Parts of the region have had about 7 inches of rain in the last 30 days, with most of it since March 23, said David A. Robinson, the New Jersey state climatologist.

“In the last two weeks, we’ve had more than a month and a half of rainfall, with some snow melt in there,” he said.

The same weekend storm system piled more than 2 feet of snow in some places in southwestern New York and northwestern Pennsylvania. Residents of southwest New York’s Chautauqua County were digging out Monday from as much as 26 inches of wet, heavy snow. In nearby Erie County, Pa., 19 inches of snow fell at Waterford and Corry got 14 inches.


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