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News Wrap: Northeast Slogs Through Floods, Wreckage of Hurricane Irene

September 1, 2011 at 12:00 AM EDT

HARI SREENIVASAN: Wall Street backed up today after a four-day rally. Stocks slumped late in the session as investors hedged their bets against tomorrow’s unemployment report. The Dow Jones industrial average lost nearly 120 points to close at 11,493. The Nasdaq fell 33 points to close at 2,546.

Thousands of people spent another day slogging through the floods and wreckage of Hurricane Irene. The long, slow job of cleaning up gathered momentum up and down the East Coast.

Across the Northeast and New England, swollen rivers have mostly crested by now, but remain far above flood stage. In the ravaged city of Paterson, N.J., the Passaic River was still surging out of its banks today, as hundreds of home and business owners tried to cope with the damage.

WOMAN: You can never prepare for a disaster. Like, you can always try to prepare, and you do your best, but you can never prepare for something like this.

HARI SREENIVASAN: The swollen Passaic also engulfed parts of Wallington and Lincoln Park, N.J. President Obama was scheduled to visit the area this Sunday to see the wreckage firsthand.

Meantime, in Vermont, repairs were under way on washed-out roads and bridges, while people cleaned ruined belongings out of flooded homes.

BRIAN KRAVITZ, Waterbury, Vt.: There’s nothing left. I have a small pile out back of stuff that we’re keeping, and I could fit that in the front seat of my car.

HARI SREENIVASAN: The flooding in Vermont had stranded entire communities, until National Guard helicopters and truck convoys began arriving with much-needed relief. They brought in loads of food, blankets and bottled water.

CAPT. DAVID FABRICIUS, U.S. Army: We are trying to get supplies over to some of the outlying towns that don’t have road access at this time or limited road access.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Farther south, the damages continued to add up today. In Beaufort County, N.C., for example, Hurricane Irene tore up a local marina, destroying the dock slip and flipping boats.

And along the state’s Outer Banks, people salvaged whatever they could. For many along the East Coast, the cleanup proceeded without benefit of power. Hundreds of thousands were still in the dark today as outages from the storm persisted.

Forecasters were also keeping an eye on Tropical Storm Katia far out in the Atlantic. It had been a hurricane, briefly, and could still grow into a major storm by the weekend, but its path remained uncertain. And a tropical depression was brewing in the Gulf of Mexico. It could bring much-needed rain to Texas and other states suffering from prolonged drought.

A top Syrian legal figure resigned today, and condemned President Bashar al-Assad. The attorney general for Hama in central Syria appeared in a YouTube video. He said security forces killed 72 protesters and activists at a local jail in July and another 420 people in August. In a second video, he denied the regime’s claim that he had been kidnapped by rebels.

JUDGE ADNAN MOHAMMED AL BAKKOUR, Syria (through translator): I am Judge Adnan Mohammed Al Bakkour, previously the attorney general in Hama. I declared that I have resigned from my position to protest the cruelty of the regime against peaceful demonstrators. What the Syrian regime has announced about me being kidnapped is not true. And I am now under the protection of the rebels and in good health.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Al Bakkour said he plans to leave Syria soon and will give more details of the government crackdown when he does.

There were no U.S. troops killed in Iraq last month, the first time that has happened since the war began in 2003. At the same time, new figures showed the death toll among Iraqis remains high — 2,600 civilians, police and soldiers have been killed in the last 12 months, since U.S. forces formally ended combat operations. The last American units are scheduled to leave by year’s end, but Iraqi leaders are discussing having some stay on as trainers.

Those are some of the day’s major stories.