First responders rescue drivers, residents amid coastal storm impact in New Jersey

Toni Yates Image
Tuesday, December 19, 2023
First responders rescue drivers, residents amid coastal storm impact in New Jersey
Josh Einiger has more from Lodi.

NEWARK, New Jersey (WABC) -- First responders were busy rescuing drivers stranded on flooded roads across New Jersey amid Monday's powerful coastal storm that unleashed heavy rain and damaging winds across the Tri-State area.

In Newark, video showed stalled cars surrounded by water near Meeker Avenue and Elizabeth Avenue.

Drivers were pulled to safety.

In the midst of the hectic conditions, reporter Toni Yates witnessed a fender bender on Eyewitness News This Morning, as cars sped through ponding on Frelinghuysen Avenue.

Toni Yates has more on the road conditions in Newark.

The flood quickly rose north of Evergreen Avenue, spreading wide enough to cover the sidewalks.

In Lodi, Main Street was flooded for nearly a mile all the way up to the firehouse, leading to several water rescues with three or four people stranded.

A red four-door vehicle looked like it was about to float away as mother nature caused the Saddle River to spill over onto the streets.

CeFaan Kim has more on the impact of Monday's storm in New Jersey.

Residents say it's not unusual to flood here, but they say this was still surprising.

"It's so weird it stopped raining and still within a few hours the water levels kept rising," resident Matthew Albano said.

Over in Hillsdale, a post office was surrounded by three sides of flood water.

As reporter CeFaan Kim observed, a few blocks away from the post office was a home completely surrounded by enough water to resemble a lake.

Fire Department rescued a stranded family, including an 8-week-old baby, and their dog out of that home.

"Water never gets in our garage," said the resident named Gabbie. "Once it starts getting in the garage that's when we panic because we have kids and they're our priority. What if we need some medical attention and can't get out? Thankfully, the Hillsdale Fire Department and Police Department are so helpful."

Playgrounds were also left under water and parking lots were inundated.

The drenching downpour impacted low lying areas in Paterson, which were hit hard as flood waters poured onto the streets near the swollen Passaic River. The city declared a state of emergency with flood water reaching as high as nine feet in some parts.

Cars came to a stop on Route 20 as the rising water started flowing into vehicles causing many of them to shut down.

Anthony Johnson has the latest from flood-ravaged Paterson.

In addition to stranded vehicles, a home was also left damaged when a tree came down between two apartment buildings.

Over on 5th Avenue, businesses were seen pumping out water, but the lowest point in the street of the industrial area remains underwater.

And while the storm finally subsided Monday afternoon, the belief is the worst is yet to come. The Passaic River was at a moderate flood stage Monday evening, but the river could crest at 10 feet by noon on Tuesday.

Streets and bridges are going to be closed to traffic since the river is expected to swell over its banks Monday night.

School let out early Monday and will be closed on Tuesday. Students are being urged to use remote learning.

The city is preparing for the worst-case scenario with plans to split police and river services to provide help on each side of the city.

Businesses that suffered from flood damage are hoping they have seen the worst but realize Tuesday could bring a whole new set of challenges.

Meanwhile, Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh said he's urging commuters to stay away from impacted streets.

"We want to keep people out of harm's way, and we believe it is prudent at this juncture for me to declare a state of emergency in the city of Paterson," Sayegh said.

The nearby town of Fairfield also declared a state of emergency with the threat of moderate to major flooding from the Passaic River.

Residents there were getting ready for round two.

"When it comes, it comes a day or two later and it's bad, it's bad," resident Rohan Jackson said. "Just don't want it happening again."

Jackson was on his second truckload of sandbags because the leftover street flooding from Sunday night's monsoon will pale in comparison once the river begins to crest.

"The river's going to go up before it goes down, so we need to be prepared," Fairfield Police Officer Stacy Chiarolanza said. "People that don't live in this town don't understand it, so they'll be like 'what do you mean Fairfield's closed,' they have no idea.


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