2 officers save people from raging floodwater in New Jersey; Governor Murphy tours damage

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Tuesday, August 24, 2021
Murphy tours damage in NJ in wake of Tropical Storm Henri
Anthony Johnson has more on the clean up efforts in Middlesex County following devastating floods from Henri.

MONROE TOWNSHIP, New Jersey (WABC) -- Henri turned streets into rivers in some neighborhoods in New Jersey. Roads, cars and homes were all swamped by the deluge of water, and when the floods receded, some homeowners discovered a big mess left behind.

In Monroe Township, police officers ditched their vests and jumped into neck-high floodwaters to save lives.

"We got on shift at 6 a.m. and by 6:10 a.m. we were already on the road assisting with water rescues," said Officer Nicholas Lafata, Monroe Township Police.

Cellphone video shows first responders on swift boats going door-to-door and car-to-car, rescuing people from raging floodwaters Sunday.

"And it was raging. We were dodging dumpsters and there's trash flowing, it was disgusting, but we got him to the guard rail and we pulled him out," said Officer Michael Steele, Monroe Township Police.

"Our main priority was getting people out of the car, you can see the window fogging up, you know someone's in there," Officer Lafata said.

Tropical Depression Henri dumped at least nine inches of rain Sunday across Central Jersey in the early morning hours, stunning longtime homeowners.

Toni Yates has more on flood damage in Morris County following Henri.

"We'll stay at it and do everything we can," Governor Phil Murphy said.

Governor Murphy toured the damage Monday and met with residents who lost everything.

"My house is gone and my car is gone so I'll be starting from square one," said Loretta Moses, a resident.

Moses says her insurance company assured her this couldn't happen.

"When I went to apply for insurance and they told me you don't need flood insurance because you're not in a flood zone. They won't give it to you, unless you're in a flood zone and we weren't in a flood zone, supposedly," Moses said.

Governor Murphy is promising to help.

"I've heard more than a few people tell me this morning, hey, 'I asked if I need flood insurance was told you don't need it,' but the answer is we'll take care of folks," Murphy said.

There are concerns some of the homes evacuated now have structural damage.

"According to the weather forecast we were to get rain. We didn't anticipate this," said Jack Hall, a Denville resident.

The Rockaway River and Riverside Drive experienced flooding.

Longtime homeowners are used to storms bringing on flooding. For people in the neighborhood their gauge is Hurricane Irene back in 2011.

"When we had Irene, all these houses were flooded. It's worse now," said Matt Olenowski, a Denville resident.

"If you don't have a sump pump you've got water in the basement," another resident said.

RELATED | Tropical Storm Henri: Rainfall totals in New York City Tri-State area

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