Residents along the East Coast braced Monday for days of heavy rain, flooding and the wettest March on record in some areas.
The National Weather Service posted flood warnings and advisories from Maine to the Carolinas as forecasts called for as much as 5 to 7 inches of rain over the next three days. The storm threatened to push already-swollen rivers over their banks and add to the misery of homeowners still struggling to bail out flooded basements from other recent storms in the Northeast.
"This is really a historic event we are in," said Walter Drag, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Taunton, Mass.
The rainiest March on record in Boston was 1953, when 11 inches fell during the month; nearly 10 inches had already fallen before the start of the latest storm. Monthly records were also expected to fall in New York City, Providence, R.I., and Portland, Maine.
Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick put the National Guard on alert, and soldiers helped to fill sandbags Monday.
"We have a very serious problem. This is turning out to be a nightmare," said Steve Kass, spokesman for the Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency.
The storm hit as the Northeast continued to recover from a storm March 13-15 that dropped as much as much as 10 inches of rain, causing several rivers to rise and flooding basements throughout the region.
The biggest concern in Massachusetts was along the Blackstone River, which could have its worst flooding in 50 years, Kass said. The Pawtuxet River could also crest higher than the record it set earlier this month.
Officials were telling people who have experienced past flooding along the two rivers that "it might not be a bad idea to evacuate," Kass said.
Road closures were already being reported Monday in several states, including New Jersey. Up to 2 inches of rain fell overnight on the state, and flood warnings were posted for urban areas and small streams in several counties.
The latest storm hit even as officials in the resort town of Ocean City began repair work on sand dunes washed away by a November storm.
Violent weather from the same system was blamed for injuries to several people and damage to as many as 30 homes Sunday night in Davidson County in North Carolina.
The rain was expected to abate in the Carolinas on Monday, but some flood watches remained.
Contributing to this report were Associated Press writers Michelle Smith in Providence, Wayne Parry in Atlantic City, N.J., and Clarke Canfield in Portland.
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