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Possible levee break in New Jersey floods three towns

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A man watches rising waters on the East River from Brooklyn as Hurricane Sandy made its approach in New York October 29, 2012. REUTERS/Andre
A man watches rising waters on the East River from Brooklyn as Hurricane Sandy made its approach in New York October 29, 2012. REUTERS/Andre

By Daniel Bases and Edward Krudy

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A possible levee breach in northern New Jersey on Tuesday, flooded three towns with 4 to 5 feet of water in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, prompting the evacuation of hundreds from their homes.

The towns of Moonachie, Little Ferry and Carlstadt were underwater after the swollen Hackensack River broke its banks, affecting around 2,000 residents, said Jeanne Baratta, chief of the Bergen County Executive.

Baratta, who was on the scene with emergency personnel, said there was the possibility that the river overflowed its banks rather than broke a levee while a New Jersey State Police spokesman described it as a levee break in the borough of Moonachie.

There were no immediate reports of any fatalities and rescue workers took approximately 200 residents out of the danger zone while some others left on their accord.

"They are wet and they are cold and they have lost their homes and their property. It is very sad," Baratta said.

"We are in rescue mode," she said, adding that the three towns had been "devastated" by the flood waters.

Baratta described a scene of rescue teams using boats and trucks to move residents to safety at a nearby school in Teterboro, which also is home to a regional airport heavily used by corporate jets and smaller aircraft.

The break came hours after Sandy, which dropped below hurricane status just before it hit the U.S. East Coast on Monday.

(Reporting By Daniel Bases and Edward Krudy; Editing by Bill Trott)

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