Severe thunderstorm watches were issued for much of the East Coast on Friday, marking a stormy start to the Memorial Day weekend after overnight storms covering an even broader swath left 3 people dead in Atlanta and flooded homes in New England.

Areas from the Carolinas up into New England were told by the National Weather Service that 70 mph winds and 2-inch hail would be possible through early evening.

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© Toby Talbot / AP
Rene Crete looks over damaged cars at Buy Right Auto on Friday in East Montpelier, Vt. Schools and roads are closed across central Vermont as heavy overnight rains caused flooding that overflowed riverbanks.
"Damaging winds and large hail are the main threats, however isolated tornadoes cannot be completely ruled out," weather.com reported.

Overnight, intense thunderstorms stalled over central Vermont, pushing rivers over their banks and ripping up streets. About 200 people were forced from their homes.

Churning brown water from the rising Winooski River and a tributary flooded into the streets of Vermont's capital city, Montpelier, sending business owners with inundated basements scurrying to move merchandise to higher ground.

"It looked like the river was right there on my porch," said Darlene Colby, who was woken up by police around 1 a.m. She gathered a bag for belongings for herself and 25-year-old son and spent the rest of the night at a shelter.

School was canceled for the day in Montpelier and a number of other communities in central Vermont, and state workers were given a delayed opening.

Plainfield, just east of the capital city of Montpelier, got 5.22 inches of rain, St. Johnsbury got 4.74 inches, and Montpelier got 3.89 inches, the National Weather Service said.

There was also flash-flooding in parts of northern New Hampshire, with some homes evacuated in the Littleton area and a few roads washed out.

In the western Pennsylvania town of Seward, high winds toppled a circus tent, injuring five people, including three children.

Hail up to 2 inches across was reported in in Franklin, Schuylkill, Cumberland and Northumberland counties in Pennsylvania. Nearly 30,000 customers were still without in power in central Pennsylvania early Friday.

In eastern New York, about 65,000 utility customers lacked power. Most of the New York outages Friday were in the Binghamton area.

Toppled trees and flooded roads were reported Thursday in the Lake Champlain community of Willsboro, and a lightning strike was blamed for setting a home on fire Thursday evening. No one was injured.

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© The Weather Channel
In Georgia, two Decatur women were killed in Atlanta when a tree fell on a truck, police said. Atlanta station WSB-TV reported that a 19-year-old man was killed in Mableton when a tree fell on him while he cleared debris from a driveway.
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Power was knocked out to more than 200,000 customers statewide, utilities said. High winds toppled trees in the Macon and Columbus areas. A flash flood warning was issued for portions of Fulton and DeKalb counties in the Atlanta area.

The storms delayed flights leaving Atlanta, home to one of the world's busiest airports, for more than two hours.