Flood of water replaced by a flood of trash

September 20, 2011 2:30:15 PM PDT
PATERSON After the Passaic River flooded his home, Greg Ray had to rip out four feet of moldy sheetrock from his first floor.

Now the soggy mess is just sitting outside his home on North Main Street.

"I don't understand why they leave it lying around like this," he said. "We can't pick it up and carry it so we're waiting for the city to come around."

While the debris is gone from most of Paterson's flood zones, the trash is piling up on certain streets in the First Ward.

City garbage trucks have come through to pick up household garbage, but they can't take mattresses, lumber, or other large items.

Residents say it's a health hazard.

"Kids walk to school past trash. They play in the trash. If the water was toxic, then the debris is toxic," Shaquan Brown, a Paterson resident, said.

The head of Paterson Public Works tells Eyewitness News that after being forced to lay off 60 employees, his staff is struggling to keep up.

The flooding was so severe that entire houses are being emptied out onto the curb.

"The stuff has been sitting there for days or weeks. There's mad contamination on the stuff right there," resident Angel Rosado said.

Homeowners in the flood zone are overwhelmed by the work ahead. Cars are marooned in yards, homes are literally knocked off their foundations.

Having to stare at and smell everything that was lost in the flood just adds to the misery here.

"We don't deserve any more problems right now," Brenda Quinones said.