Deaths, Flooding, Rough Winds as Storm Batters East Coast

Though the remnants of Tropical Storm Ida are expected to weaken soon, several people have died as severe weather continues to batter the U.S. Atlantic Coast with coastal flooding, strong winds and pounding surf.

Heavy rains and 75 mph winds caused 150 car accidents in Virginia, leaving three people dead. Hurricane-strength wind gusts toppled power lines and trees, leaving one man dead in North Carolina.

On Friday morning, the U.S. Coast Guard called off a search for three commercial fishermen who were aboard the fishing boat Sea Tractor. The vessel sank Wednesday off Cape May, N.J., and the men on board -- Kenneth Rose Jr., the 49-year-old captain of the craft; his 75-year-old father, Kenneth Sr.; and 55-year-old crew member Larry Forrest -- are presumed dead.

Searchers had found an empty life raft in the water.

Kenneth Rhodes was just a mile away from the boat when the storm hit.

"Kenny was one of the greatest fishermen. I loved him like a brother, and I'll miss him," Rhodes said with tears in his eyes.

The storm churned surf as far north as New York, where a surfer drowned in the rough waters.

Residents Worry About Flooding, Beach Erosion

Michael Eckert, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said the storm got some of its energy from the weakening Ida.

"The strong winds are pushing water from the Atlantic Ocean into the beaches, so we are getting a lot of beach erosion, coastal flooding," he said.

Tidal surges in Virginia have topped 7 feet -- rivaling the 2003 record set by Hurricane Isabel -- and communities along the New Jersey shore are bracing for the storm. Beach erosion is a key concern there.

Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine declared a state of emergency as flooding, downed trees and closed roads forced schools and businesses to close in some coastal areas.

The storm made landfall with more power than Ida, dumping more than a foot of rain and leaving up to 4 feet of water on some Virginia roads. Rescue crews were out in force to help stranded residents evacuate.

East Coast Storm: Residents Advised to Stay Home

"It's pretty bad, the worst I've seen in a long time," Kori Keys of Norfolk, Va., told ABC News. "I hope it dies down, and we get out of here."

Residents in some coastal and flood-prone areas in Virginia were advised to stay home in anticipation of up to 10 inches of rain for some regions.

In Virginia Beach, Va., residents were concerned about flooding in low-lying areas even as the city closed floodgates.

The scene was similar in Norfolk, Va., where state officials said low-lying areas were flooded and likely to remain that way for several hours.

Paris Diaz, 13, experienced the devastation firsthand when a large tree fell on her house, forcing her and her grandmother to crawl out through a window.

"The whole house was shaking, was just shaking," she told ABC News.

Winds and Rain Cause Power Outages in Virginia

In parts of the Virginia coast, traffic was crawling or at a standstill as rising water flooded vehicles.

The Virginia Department of Transportation urged motorists to plan ahead and use caution before traveling, especially in the southern and coastal areas of the state.

Megan Miller of Norfolk told ABC News she was unable to get out of her driveway and that she was surprised by the speed at which the storm came through.

"That high tide is pushing all that water into tributaries," Miller said. "It looks a bit more like an ocean today."

Winds and rain also caused power outages in several areas. More than 90,000 Virginia residents have lost power since Wednesday.

Ida had hit Central America with hurricane force a week ago, blamed for 124 deaths in El Salvador and the destruction of 500 homes in Nicaragua.

It diminished to a tropical storm before it hit the U.S. Gulf Coast earlier this week. Today the National Hurricane Center listed it as a tropical depression as it moved up the Atlantic coast and regained strength.

Winds today gusted up to 50 mph and, in some areas, were expected to reach 60 mph.

The Atlantic hurricane season typically peaks in September and ends Nov. 30.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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