Flooded out New Jersey residents return home to find a long road ahead

ByCrystal Cranmore and Eyewitness News WABC logo
Friday, December 22, 2023
NJ residents return home ahead of holidays after flood waters recede
Crystal Cranmore has more on the residents returning home after parts of New Jersey experienced major flooding.

LITTLE FALLS, New Jersey (WABC) -- As the floodwaters recede in Little Falls and Wayne, many are finally returning to their homes and the Red Cross is offering help.

The agency spent Friday distributing meals along with emergency supplies like clean-up kits, water and snacks.

Supplies are also available at the shelter at the Civic Center in Little Falls and the Office of Emergency Management in Wayne.

The Passaic River finally dipped below major flood stage Friday following Monday's storm that forced evacuations in northern New Jersey.

Officials say approximately 60 homes in Little Falls sustained significant water damage. For many, the damage came just as they were getting ready for the holidays.

"There's no Christmas for us," said one resident. "We're trying to just get all this stuff cleaned up and our heat restored back to our home, our washer and dryer to have my kids' clothes washed, it's a lot. It's a disaster... The whole basement is four-feet flooded, and we've been going through some difficult times. So, it's very hard throughout the holidays with the kids."

But even after the holidays pass, residents will still be in recovery from the storm. The mayor of Little Falls is looking ahead to prevent this kind of damage from happening again.

"I've always said there's no good time to be flooded, but this is a particularly bad time of year, especially with those that have young kids in their homes. You know, having to not being able to wake up in your home on Christmas morning is a terrible feeling," said James Damiano, mayor of Little Falls. "Finding more federal funding to do home elevations is going to be critical for this neighborhood."

Mayor Damiano posted an update on his Facebook page on Thursday afternoon.

Meanwhile, the Little Falls Police Department is providing updates on who can return home on its social media accounts.

The governor announced new ways to protect people from what he calls "flood risks brought by climate change." When buying or renting, owners must disclose prior flooding problems first.

But that does nothing for the thousands of people effected by current flood waters.

"I've got to replace everything," Little Falls resident Eddie Asaad said.

Asaad is distraught over the loss in his basement, and his insurance is only covering about half his stay at a hotel.

"I know I'll stay longer. It's the holidays and everyone won't be out," he said.

The community in Little Falls is trying to keep afloat even as the flood waters attempted to wash their holiday spirits away. Residents have come together to donate toys for families now focused on recovering.

"Just to know that they don't have to worry if their package didn't come, if something was flooded out in their home, just to know that they have a few things to open on that morning I think will just make a huge difference," said Councilwoman Christine Hablitz.

Anyone who needs toys or is looking to donate is asked to contact Councilwoman Hablitz at chablitz@lfnj.com.

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