Storms renew misery along Isabel's path

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RICHMOND, Va. - The East Coast's recovery from Isabel was dealt a setback yesterday by another round of storms that caused renewed flooding, flattened trees that had withstood the hurricane and left thousands of customers without power, some for the second time in less than a week.

A tornado with winds of nearly 70 mph touched down along a four-county path that crossed Richmond.

"Isabel was gravy compared to this guy," Richmond resident James Whitaker said. "We went down and got in the closet downstairs and stayed in it."

No injuries were reported from the twister, part of a weather system that also caused damage in Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Isabel was blamed for at least 38 deaths, 23 of them in Virginia.

About 40,000 customers lost power in Virginia yesterday.

"I just restocked my refrigerator last night. This is just so unreal," said Renee Knight, whose neighborhood lost power during Isabel for about 20 hours.

Before yesterday's storms arrived, Virginia's main utility, Dominion Virginia Power, said it had restored electricity to two-thirds of the 1.8 million customers who lost service during Isabel.

Weary of living without electricity for five days, Joy Melvin had taken her 20-month-old daughter and moved in with a friend, Keisha Gilchrist, in a section of Richmond that was little affected by the hurricane.

Yesterday, a tree fell onto the roof above the bedroom where they slept.

"We ran from upstairs," Melvin said. "Thank God for her [Gilchrist] yelling."

The storms dumped about 4 inches of rain in parts of Maryland, where some roads flooded by Isabel were under water again and some schools closed.

The storms caused no new damage in North Carolina, where Isabel struck land and where 46,800 customers were still waiting for electricity.

Yesterday's storms blacked out about 20,000 customers in southern New Jersey and about 34,000 in Pennsylvania. Tornadoes were spotted in two New Jersey counties.

As the storms swept into Lawrence, N.J., outside Trenton, Alessia Leutz watched a gray wall of wind-blown rain coming down her street.

"All the trees were just going. It sounded horrible," Leutz said. "It was insane. I was so freaked out."

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