Home > Flood, New Jersey > Floodwaters are still rising in Wayne, other N.J. towns

Floodwaters are still rising in Wayne, other N.J. towns

March 13, 2011


Heavy rain brings more flooding to N.J. 

Enlarge Tony Kurdzuk/The Star-Ledger With the sold sign still in the flooded front yard, Al Eggeneberger stands on the front porch of the house purchased just 12 days ago by his cousin Frank DePinto as a pump pulls water from the basement this afternoon on Riveredge Dr. in Fairfield. (Tony Kurdzuk/The Star-Ledger) Heavy rain brings more flooding to N.J. gallery (56 photos)

WAYNE — Floodwaters continued to rise in Fairfield, Little Falls and Wayne today, submerging entire neighborhoods under water and leaving some with no other option but to travel by boat to reach their homes.

“It sucks, but you have to live with it. What can you do?” said Wieslaw Borek, as he watched water creep onto his front lawn on Riveredge Drive in Fairfield. “You can’t fight mother nature.”

In each of the towns, the scenes were similar. Roads were closed. Those that were open were clogged with traffic. Residents gathered around the water’s edge, most just looking mournfully at their homes submerged under several feet of water.

Others with boats helped residents survey the damage firsthand, in some cases using improvised paddles like snow shovels to propel them.

U.S. Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-11th Dist.) toured Pequannock, Lincoln Park and Fairfield this morning, along with representatives from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Frelinghuysen also met with mayors, council members and relief workers from the National Guard, fire departments and the New Jersey State Police.

“There is a lot of frustration,” he said. “There is a certain tenacity that many residents have because of repeated crises such as this.”

Frelinghuysen credited Gov. Chris Christie for declaring a state of emergency early enough that many residents were able to evacuate and municipalities were able to get resources from government agencies. In many of the areas he toured, Frelinghuysen said he was only able to speak with people from a distance because so many roads were still impassable and homes were not accessible. Still, he said he was heartened to see the joint effort to manage the situation.

“The combination of people who are working to assist the towns is really remarkable,” Frelinghuysen said. “I was very impressed by the teamwork.”

Heavy rain leads to flooding in central and northern New Jersey Heavy rain leads to flooding in central and northern New Jersey Heavy rains this week have resulted in extensive flooding in central and northern New Jersey. Along the Passaic, Rockaway and Ramapo rivers, waters are still rising, wreaking havoc on residents exhausted by years of flooding. (Video by Nyier Abdou and Adya Beasley/The Star-Ledger) Watch video

Many residents were angry after experiencing their fourth or fifth major flood in a decade. For others, the rising waters are old hat.

“It’s a shame,” said Todd Sierfeld, a 10-year resident of Riverside Drive in Wayne whose basement was flooded up to the rafters. “They always talk about what they’re going to do to fix this. Nothing ever happens.”

U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. (D-8th Dist.) said he is struck by the resilience of the people who live in flood-prone areas and the excellent work of public-safety professionals.

“In Pompton Lakes, Wayne, Little Falls and Paterson, people are frustrated. The flooding events that used to be occasional are now perennial,” Pascrell said in a statement. “We have responded in recent years with federal funding for mitigation efforts and property buyouts — including a $20 million buyout in Wayne, the largest in the state’s history. But everyone agrees that there is no single, silver-bullet solution to rid us of these floods.”

Pascrell said Col. John Boule, commander of the Army Corps of Engineers in the New York District, has assured him today that an independent engineering firm will study the operation of dams in the area, including the Pompton Dam.

“We need to make sure that those gates are not exacerbating the flooding for the communities down river,” Pascrell said.

The congressman said he and his staff will continue to push for federal funding for more buyouts, mitigation efforts such as raising homes above flood levels, and dredging and de-snagging of waterways.

Willowbrook Mall and Wayne Towne Center mall are both closed today and tomorrow, according to a spokesman for the Wayne police. A state of emergency remains in effect and flooding has shut down roads and highways across the town.

The Passaic River basin could be coping with floodwaters through Tuesday, according to state climatologist David Robinson. The crest along the Passaic is expected to hit 11.9 feet in the overnight hours, the fourth highest it’s reached since 1903.

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