Passaic River crests as heavy weekend rain triggers flooding concerns

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Tuesday, March 12, 2024
NJ battling wind damage and floods
Lucy Yang is in Fairfield, New Jersey with the latest on how residents are dealing with the aftermath.

LODI, New Jersey (WABC) -- A New Jersey community is on edge again after heavy rainfall bloated the Passaic River Monday.

This comes after steady rain drenched the Tri-State over the weekend. Both the Saddle River and Passaic River have high water levels.

The worst part is officials are bracing for months of this because it's not over yet.

In Fairfield, residents had to move their cars to higher ground in anticipation of the rising water levels.

Yards are already submerged -- especially those hugging the Passaic River, which is known for overrunning its banks. Thankfully, catastrophic flooding is not expected.

Fairfield resident Corio Sanchez said that as long as he has power to pump out the water from his basement, he is not worried about how close the Passaic River laps up to his property. He says his house is built high off the ground and the main floors are dry.

Further down Lane Road, Eyewitness News reporter Lucy Yang couldn't even get to Sanchez's neighbors' homes to ask how they were doing.

In Lincoln Park, the flooding created moats around humble castles, turning Lincoln Boulevard into a road to nowhere.

Meanwhile, earlier Sunday, Lodi was left inundated after steady, pounding rain flooded parts of the community Saturday night turning streets into small rivers.

Many residents are reminded of the extreme flooding they saw back in January. Water slipped into backyards, basements, and in between low-lying parts of New Jersey.

"Got flooded like four times in about three months now," said Wayne's Jimmy Love. "And it keeps just getting worse and worse."

"So we had floods back in December and then we had them again in January and the problems that we have with that is our river levels are high, they're still high and we never really got a chance to lower enough where we like to see it this time of year," said Stacy Chiarolanza with the Fairfield Police Department.

Those who have lived in the area for decades and have weathered much flooding, tell Eyewitness News they are prepared.

Karen Telli explains that FEMA raised her house to a second level 17 years ago, so now she doesn't sweat it, because she knows her house will be dry, even her air conditioner outside her house has been mounted up on the second level so it won't get ruined.

"They elevated me way above base flood level. I'm self-contained upstairs -- it's wonderful," Telli said.

For former residents, the flooding reminds them why they decided to move from the flood-prone area.

"We had five kids in the apartment and all the time it was very difficult, so we moved," said Alexandra Sandoval, a former resident of Lodi.

Local emergency organizations have been alerting residents of road closures due to flooding.

While the Passaic River crested Monday evening, the bad news is that flooding isn't the only thing on the menu.

"That's the main concern, because you figure how saturated are the grounds, and that could be a big problem with these heavy gusty winds with trees coming down," Chiarolanza said. "So that could be a whole other issue at any point today up until tonight."

Officials say they are prepared to battle the flooding and storms through the next few months.


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