Northeast Still Struggling After Floods

The Associated Press
Sunday, July 2, 2006; 2:47 PM

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 long July Fourth holiday weekend.

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

On the National Mall, the 40th annual Smithsonian Folk Life Festival was open, attracting 80,000 people on Friday's opening day.

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

"We've dried out very nicely, and I have not seen any mud or anything, so we're good," said Becky Haberacker, a Smithsonian spokeswoman.

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 reopened Friday and Saturday.

Two other museums, the National Portrait Gallery and the Museum of American Art, held their grand reopening Saturday 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.

Record flooding forced thousands of people to evacuate their homes over the past week in Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York state. More than a foot of rain fell last weekend around the Washington and Baltimore region.

The Delaware River between New Jersey and Pennsylvania had fallen below flood levels after inundating low-lying communities. At Phillipsburg, N.J., the Delaware crested Thursday at more than 14 feet above flood stage.

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.

Emergency workers had pumped out 225 of the 280 homes in The Island and the neighboring Glen Afton neighborhood by Sunday afternoon, said Ken Ashworth, a spokesman for Trenton Mayor Douglas H. Palmer.

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