ELMSFORD, N.Y. — Santiago Ruiz stepped into a big black garbage bag, as if he were entering a sack race, then pulled it up around his waist and headed into the floodwaters.
The hotel maintenance man had to get to work, and the swollen Saw Mill River was in the way. So Ruiz forded the 200-foot-wide, knee-deep flood along Route 119 in Elmsford on Friday morning, taking little steps like a woman in a tight skirt.
"There's no bus going to take me through there, so I have to do something," he said.
Ruiz was among thousands of New Yorkers affected by the second flooding rainstorm in a week, a deluge that poured several inches onto the already saturated state and drove creeks, streams and rivers far beyond their banks.
Upstate and downstate, scores of residents had to flee their homes.
Maria Elena Gonzalez said she woke up at 5 a.m., spotted river water advancing on her house in Greenburgh and shouted, "Oh my God, we're going to get flooded!"
Two hours later, there was 4 inches of water in her kitchen, dining room and living room. Her husband, John Vargas, had stacked two couches atop a coffee table and moved his mother-in-law to a cousin's house but was resigned to heavy damage and a fight with the insurance adjuster.
"What can you do? This is nature," he said.
Several other families on their street were also flooded out. Jessica Dantona said, "You know, living high on a hill is starting to look really good."
FedEx driver Jose Viera came to the water's edge with a package for another neighbor and said, "I'm going to have to trade my truck for a boat."
Three-inch rainfalls from Thursday to Friday were common in the Hudson River Valley, following a similar storm Sunday and Monday, and although the rain eased off during the day, flooding remained a danger. Westchester Emergency Services Commissioner Anthony Sutton said, "We probably had two months' worth of rain in a week. ... We expect a couple of days of watching streams and watching roadways."
Farther north, melting snow added to the saturation. There were scattered evacuations in parts of Shandaken, Saugerties, the Town of Kingston and Woodstock as dozens of roads flooded in the Catskills area. At least a dozen homes were evacuated in Deerpark, where the Neversink River and the Pine Kill spilled over.
"We have about three stranded families we saved from their houses," said Deerpark supervisor Karl Brabenec.
Flooding also led to the evacuation of 15 homes in the mobile home park in Preble, about 20 miles south of Syracuse.
Four major Westchester County roads — the Sprain Brook, Bronx River, Saw Mill River and Hutchinson River parkways — were flooded by the waterways they're named for. On one closed section of the Hutch in Mount Vernon, a Canada goose and half a dozen ducks enjoyed a swim.
The Taconic State Parkway was also closed in spots, and the morning rush was a suburban nightmare, with diverted traffic swamping the local roads in small towns like Pelham and Elmsford.
"Nobody can get in or out of the village," said Elmsford Mayor Robert Williams. As he surveyed the flooding at dozens of light-industry companies along the Saw Mill, which was 15 times its normal width in spots, he said there would be millions of dollars in damage and lost business.
And as he watched pedestrians going barefoot through the floodwaters, he said, "You know, people really shouldn't do that."
Associated Press Writers Chris Carola and Michael Hill in Albany, N.Y., contributed to this report.