Over 70 people rescued after powerful storms bring flooding to Newark streets

Lucy Yang Image
Tuesday, July 20, 2021
70+ people rescued after weekend storms bring flooding to Newark
A storm of biblical proportions submerged much of Newark over the weekend, leaving the city searching for answers on how to stop the flooding.

NEWARK, New Jersey (WABC) -- A storm of biblical proportions submerged much of Newark over the weekend, leaving the city searching for answers on how to stop the flooding.

The water from Saturday's flood has already receded, but the mud and the trash show one of many scars left over from a problem that Newark residents say is dangerous and costly.

Emergency management officials say some surrounding areas picked up close to 6 inches of rain in less than two hours.

"There were huge portions in the Ironbound, east ward that were under water at a level I had not seen outside of a hurricane," Newark Public Safety Director Brian O'Hara.

The rain quickly made streets impassible and Newark police had to rescue 73 people, including from a stranded bus.

RELATED | Severe storms brought tornado, flash flooding in New Jersey

Meteorologist Brittany Bell has more on the severe storms that ravaged parts of the Tri-State this weekend.

Residents said Saturday's flash flooding was similar to a tropical storm.

"As significant as this probably the last tropical storm that we had here, it was that bad," Catia Nascimeno said. "It was as bad. The other one I lost my car. Thankfully, this time I was smarter. So my car wasn't in low bearing place so I did move it. So I was able to salvage my car."

At 25 Van Velor Place, residents complained that so much water came gushing in from the parking lot, their lobby suddenly turned into an indoor pool.

"The water levels rose, and the pressure blew the window out and that's how this hallway turned into a river," resident Scott Bamberg said.

Saturday was like a tale of two storms in Newark. Higher elevation areas barely noticed the rain. It was the low-lying areas that got caught between the storm and the swollen Passaic River.

For areas like the Ironbound district, it was a perfect storm. All the steady rain washed down into this neighborhood and then had nowhere to go.

It couldn't drain into the Passaic River because it was at high tide.

MORE NEWS: Videos of flooded subway stations spark infrastructure concerns

The scene that played out during severe weather Thursday, with people wading through waist-deep water, is alarming and dangerous.

Eyewitness News was told five patients had to be rescued from a dialyses center. Almost half a dozen emergency boats were deployed during the flood.

"It was very horrible because you're looking at the place you pay rent, pretty much being destroyed," Bamberg said.

Director O'Hara says he's thankful no one died.

Sadly, there's nothing stopping another flash flood from hitting the low-lying neighborhoods again.


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