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2 dead, including priest on his way to church, after storms hit eastern US

Two people have died, including a priest on his way to church, and hundreds of thousands of people remain without power after storms swept through much of the eastern US on Halloween.

Retired priest John Thomas Connery, 82, was on his way to a church in Newport, New York, on Thursday night, when he was swept away by floodwater, according to a deacon who worked with Connery at various churches in the area.

Connery disobeyed a traffic control signal and drove into a flooded area in Norway, New York, said Michael Kopy, the state’s director of emergency management. Connery got out of his car after it got stuck when the shoulder of the road collapsed, Kopy said. He lost his footing and was swept away, New York State Police said in a release.

Connery, who had served for 56 years and lived about 60 miles away in Glenville, planned to spend the night in the rectory and lead the All Saints Day mass in Newport on Friday morning, Deacon Jim Bower of the Holy Family Parish in Hicksville, told CNN.

“It’s always a tragedy when anyone passes away and I think we always take it harder when its someone that we know and have a great deal of respect and love for,” Bower said.

Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger of the Diocese of Albany said Father Connery “died as he lived — serving the people of God without fear or concern for himself.”

George Walker, 79, died after high winds caused a tree to fall on his car Thursday in Knoxville, Tennessee, said Knoxville Police communications manager Scott Erland.

Walker was taken to a local medical center and later died of his injuries, police said.

“It was a horrible situation,” Erland said.

Nearly 600,000 customers remained without power Friday from Virginia to Maine after storms swept through Thursday evening. Most of the outages were reported in New York and Maine.

Con Edison workers were working to restore service in Queens, New York, near John F. Kennedy International Airport, CNN affiliate WABC reported.

Winds blew trees down, and roofing materials and debris were stuck in power lines, the station reported.

Tens of thousands of customers were also without power in Pennsylvania, Vermont, Connecticut, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

More than 20 low-temperature records were set Thursday from the Midwest to the East Coast, CNN meteorologists said.

CNN