Storm recovery continues along US East Coast, but thousands still blacked out

Utility crews cut their way through toppled trees to restore service to thousands of customers still without power since a huge weekend storm battered the East Coast.

Communities from New Jersey to Maine were still coping with stream flooding after the storm dumped more than 8 inches (20 centimeters) of rain in places, along with coastal flooding brought on by astronomical high tides and heavy surf.

Eighteen deaths were blamed on the weather system, including a woman whose body was pulled from a New Jersey river on Wednesday.

New Hampshire safety officials made plans Wednesday to breach the 19th-century Hayden Mill Pond dam at Hollis to relieve the pressure of high water from the storm and avert a failure. A dozen families living near the six-acre reservoir were evacuated Tuesday evening and National Guard troops closed part of a highway as a precaution.

More than 50,000 businesses and homes remained without power in Maine, where Central Maine Power Co. was being helped by repair crews from neighboring New Brunswick and Nova Scotia and as far away as Pennsylvania.

Utility officials warned that some people might be without power until the end of the week.

Utilities in New Hampshire reported nearly 17,000 homes and businesses still had no electricity, down from roughly 90,000 at the peak, and said some might not be reconnected until the weekend.

In many areas, road damage and fallen trees blocked repair crews' access, said New Hampshire Electric Cooperative spokesman Seth Wheeler.

About 1,400 New Jersey residents were in emergency shelters because of flooding, up slightly from Tuesday, as more rivers crested. Rescue crews went house to house by boat in a flooded section of Fairfield asking if residents of about three dozen homes needed to be evacuated, said State Police Sgt. Stephen Jones.

Sections of some New Jersey highways were still closed by standing water.

About 40 New Hampshire roads remained closed by high water or damage, Gov. John Lynch said. Most were expected to be reopened soon, but it could take weeks to repair landslide damage to Route 101 in Wilton, Department of Transportation spokesman Bill Boynton said.

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Author`s name Angela Antonova