BOUND BROOK, N.J. - Last week's nor'easter was the second-worst rainstorm in state history, causing $180 million in damage to public and private property across the state, acting Gov. Richard J. Codey said yesterday.

Three deaths in New Jersey were blamed on the April 15 storm, which left parts of a half-dozen major highways shut for several days due to historic flooding.

Statewide, about 3,000 people were evacuated from their homes and at the storm's peak, about 40,000 were without power. About 1,400 sought refuge in shelters, Codey said. Burlington County was among the hardest hit.

New Jersey has asked the federal government to declare parts of the state disaster areas, which would clear the way for federal aid.

Codey announced the damage estimate at a news conference in the central New Jersey community of Bound Brook, another hard-hit area. Along the main street were piles of debris, moldy mattresses and toys, discarded furniture and broken television sets

Codey included nine counties in his request for federal help: Bergen, Burlington, Essex, Hudson, Middlesex, Morris, Passaic, Somerset and Union.

R. David Paulison, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said yesterday that a decision on the request would be made in "days, not weeks."

In Bound Brook, more than 1,000 residents were forced into emergency shelters for several days. The downtown business district was inundated, and its train station is still closed.

The flooding there sent sewage and storm water into houses, coated the downtown with mud, and left a stench of heating oil in the air for days.

Bound Brook residents were upset that a flood-control project designed to channel floodwater around and away from the community, has not been finished because of a lack of federal funding.

During the news conference, frustrated residents asked about the pace of the flood-control project. It is slated to receive $10 million in federal money - about a third of what is needed to finish it. It's expected to take about three years to complete, officials said.