Central New Jersey bears early brunt of Henri as hundreds rescued from flooded homes

Byand the Eyewitness News team WABC logo
Tuesday, August 24, 2021
Major cleanup ahead following heavy rainfall in Middlesex County
Severe flooding in Helmetta led to some high-water rescues.

NEW JERSEY (WABC) -- Proving just how unpredictable Henri was as it moved into the Tri-State, the Garden State bore the early brunt of its wrath as the tropical storm inundated the central part of the state with a deluge of rain causing flooding in several places.

Henri weakened to a tropical depression Sunday night, but more rain is expected on Monday, a cause for concern among many New Jersey residents.

A tree fell against a home in Ridgewood on Sunday night. Fire crews ensured the safety of the homeowners, who say they were eating dinner when the tree came crashing down into their kitchen The tree left a gaping hole in the ceiling and caused major water damage. PSE&G crews arrived quickly to cut off power to part of the house.

Flooding is causing major concerns across New Jersey as more rain is expected on Monday.

Cranbury and Jamesburg in Middlesex County were downright waterlogged under 8.91 inches and 7.96 inches of rain respectively, as of Sunday morning.

Eyewitness News Assignment Desk Editor Mark Crudele spoke to a resident in Helmetta who said she had lived there for 40 years and it's the worst flooding she has ever seen.

The blocks surrounding Railroad Avenue, John Street, and Willow Street were being evacuated.

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"We have swift-water boats coming in, we have high vehicles coming in and they're literally going door-to-door getting the people out," Crudele said.

Some residents were attempting to wade out of the water themselves Sunday morning but were being urged not to do so as the water was still rising.

They're telling people to stay where they are until trained search and rescue teams can get to them.

At least 150 people were rescued by boat in Helmetta alone.

Crews work to rescue people trapped in massive flooding in Helmetta, New Jersey.

Anyone who lives in the evacuated areas were told to go to the Helmetta Community Center.

"Fortunately all residents have been rescued safely -- we're concerned as high tide is supposed to rise, several homes are completely devastated by water throughout the first floor," Helmetta Mayor Chris Lavicek said. "We have a shelter in place for our residents at Spotswood High School where our students go to school."

Helmetta Mayor Chris Lavicek has more on the massive flooding and rescue efforts underway from Henri.

Crudele said many people he spoke with were not expecting, and not prepared for, possible problems from the storm as forecasts had predicted Long Island and Connecticut to be hit hard with very little mention of New Jersey.

Eyewitness News Assignment Editor Mark Crudele has more on the massive flooding in Helmetta, New Jersey.

In addition to the unexpected path Henri took, residents said they were shocked by its behavior, first dumping a massive amount of rain in a short amount of time overnight and then triggering floodwaters that kept on rising all morning.

"One woman said that, pretty much in 15 minutes, it was a river of water coming down John Street and they had to get out," Crudele said.

In Newark, significant flooding resulted in multiple vehicles submerged in flooded areas, mainly in the Ironbound section of the city and the industrial areas of the South and East Wards.

Newark firefighters rescued 59 adults and 16 children in seven incidents, and Newark Police have rescued 11 people in four incidents.

Meanwhile in Hoboken, the mayor's office said two pumps were put in after Sandy that take care of the northwest and south parts of the city. They were currently working, however, the water was outpacing the ability for the pumps to do their work.

The spokesperson said since the pumps have been placed, Henri was one of the worst storms to hit Hoboken.

In Hoboken, the mayor's office said two pumps were put in after Sandy that take care of the northwest and south parts of the city.

While Henri has passed east of New Jersey, PSE&G says they continue to see heavy rain and localized flooding in parts of their service territory.

Officials were urging residents to move their cars from the streets and street sweeping rules were in place so crews can power wash the streets.

They say those conditions present the risk that trees with compromised root systems could fall, bringing wires down with them and creating power outages.

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