LINCOLN PARK, N.J. (CBS New York) — Heavy rains drenched already flood-weary communities in New Jersey on Thursday, forcing thousands of residents to prepare for disaster.
Many rivers in the Garden State were still above flood stage Thursday night, with the possibility of even more severe flooding on the horizon after the precipitation on Thursday and Friday.
In some neighborhoods, boats became the easiest way to get around. Front yards were submerged as the floodwaters continued to creep higher.
WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond on Little Falls residents spending the night preparing
Meanwhile, road crews were already trying to get ahead of the storm by shutting down problem streets, creating detours ahead of the morning commute.
Governor Chris Christie already declared a state of emergency in the Garden State, which broadens state police powers for traffic control and evacuations, and signed an order putting about 100 National Guard troops on alert.
The threat of flooding has also prompted officials to close the parking garage adjacent to the New Jersey Statehouse in Trenton. State Police said the facility, located less than 200 yards from the banks of the swelling Delaware River, will be closed all day Friday.
The underground garage is used by state government employees who work in the Statehouse complex.
CBS 2’s Sean Hennessey reports from Lincoln Park, NJ
Flood watches and warnings are in effect for many parts of the Tri-State area through Friday. Rainfall totals of 3 inches or more could hit parts of northern New Jersey.
CBS 2’s Dave Carlin reports from a soggy Westchester County
Andy and Nancy Monaco packed up their Lincoln Park home and moved everything as high as they could, stowing mattresses and couches – hopefully – out of the reach of floodwater.
“I’m expecting it to come in really big,” Andy Monaco told CBS 2’s Sean Hennessey. “I don’t see any other way – it has to come in. You just have to plan for the worst and hope for the best.”
Some residents along the Ramapo River tell 1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg fear this next flood could rival the one in 1984
George Smith and his daughter were doing the same thing on Thursday.
“We expect it to come in the house,” Smith, also of Lincoln Park, said.
With a home surrounded by water, they said they know better, and they’d love to move.
“I’d like to leave today, but we really don’t have the funds to do so,” Smith said.
Pelting rain left some roads knee deep in water, but in Wayne, it wasn’t enough to scare Paul Menoski, who said he’s sticking it out for now.
“We have the boat with the neighbors if something happens – we move like we did last year,” Moneski said.
The New Jersey National Guard has been put on standby for the flooding and will have more than 100 pieces of equipment to help out.
“We’ll be helping tow the boats, and just recovering people,” NJ National Guard Capt. Nicholas Hoffman said.
The Monacos won’t be among those needing recovery. They left their home for a hotel, knowing it could be weeks before they can return.
“They’re going to have to tear everything up, and they’re going to have to get new floors, and new rugs, and new walls, and new appliances,” Nancy Monaco said.
CBS 2’s John Slattery reports the National Guard is standing ready to help in Wayne, NJ
Residents in many flood-prone areas said they’ve been pleading unsuccessfully for years to local and state officials to either dredge the Pompton and Passaic Rivers, which they argue would compensate for heavy rains, or come up with another solution to avoid flooding.
Until then, they’re bracing for the worst out of a genuine affection for what life is like there when it’s dry.
“In the last six years, we’ve seen flooding that we haven’t seen for many year prior to that,” State Assemblyman Scott Rumana said.
1010 WINS’ John Montone with a tale of two rivers
Assemblyman Rumana was on a state flooding task force which recommended that some flood-prone properties be bought up by the state, and that strategic flood walls and levies be built.
“If you build flood walls and levies along the banks of the river you can actually contain the river, stay in the channel, so it doesn’t spread out into neighborhoods,” he said.
The prevention effort would be costly. However, proponents say that in the long run, it would eliminate the nearly annual expense4s of trying to contain the flooding that thousands of residents have begrudgingly learned to live with.
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