Scavengers picking through flood debris

September 12, 2011 2:15:57 PM PDT
Residents in flood damaged areas in New Jersey are now battling scavengers who are sometimes taking more than garbage.

There is still a large volume of garbage and debris outside people's homes on Matt Drive.

Some residents on the block say scavengers are treating it like a yard sale.

"They were looking through everybody's stuff, they were going up and down the street," said Gina Greco, a Fairfield resident.

Some Fairfield homeowners didn't like seeing their treasures, albeit waterlogged treasures, being carted away by strangers instead of the garbage truck.

"First they just came in old cars and then they started coming in big trucks and started loading them up," Greco said.

Fairfield Police issued at least a dozen summonses for scavenging.

Once property is out by the curb, it technically belongs to the town.

Trouble is there's so much debris it doesn't all fit by the curb.

So, it's hard to tell sometimes what's trash and what's simply drying out.

"Some people had signs that said we're still drying it and they took it anyway," said Mario Greco, a Fairfield resident.

In Paterson, residents cleaning up after the flood can't imagine who would want their wet, mildewed things.

"It smells, it's from the river," said David Harriet, a Paterson homeowner.

Paterson's mayor says looting was a bigger problem; thieves who must have been truly desperate to get inside evacuated houses were using boats and even swimming.

Mayor Jeffery Jones/Paterson 0043 "People who used this as an opportunity actually swam in the river to get into people's homes," Paterson Mayor Jeffery Jones said.

Little Falls has managed to deter scavengers by having a strong police presence in the flood zones.

Residents are grateful they can clean up and dry out in peace.

"The town has been doing a good job on keeping non-residents out during the clean-up," said Cory Nielsen, a Little Falls resident.

People here Fairfield say many of the scavengers' cars have out of state license plates.

Others told Eyewitness News that if the stuff is garbage and someone wants to spend the time cleaning it; why not let them take it?