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Flooding Tri-State Rivers Shut Down Roadways, Force Evacuations

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Firefighters evacuating trapped residents by boat in Lodi. (Photo: Steve Sandberg)

Firefighters evacuating trapped residents by boat in Lodi. (Photo: Steve Sandberg)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Flooded rivers in the Tri-State Area forced road closures and evacuations from New Jersey to Westchester County on Friday, and residents were left waiting to see how bad the damage would be once the rivers crest.

Knee-deep floodwaters in some areas ravaged homes, roads and businesses this week, leaving residents and local officials to pick up the pieces.

With much of the rain gone, all eyes now are on area rivers, many of which are expected to crest well above flood stage.

LINKS: Radar Forecast & Alerts | School Closings | Traffic & Transit Guide | On-Air: 1010 WINS | WCBS 880

As soon as the rain stopped falling, homeowners, emergency workers and lawmakers began to assess the extent of flood damage across the region. An emergency management spokesman said agencies in New Jersey were preparing for what they called “potential record-breaking flooding.” Drivers were urged to avoid any areas where water is covering a road, since it can be much deeper than it appears.

PHOTO GALLERY: Water-Logged New Jersey, Westchester

WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond: Worst Yet To Come In Lincoln Park, NJ

A wave of reporters and homeowners followed Gov. Chris Christie to four flood-ravaged locations in New Jersey on Friday, from Wayne to Little Falls. If people have patience, the governor said, help will come.

“Obviously there is significant frustration from people who are experiencing loss of property, damage of property, and they’ve been through this before,” Gov. Christie said.

Senator Frank Lautenberg also waded into the disaster area, standing on the banks of the Passaic River to ask President Barack Obama to help.

Major flooding was expected along the Passaic River overnight Saturday into Sunday. It is expected to crest at 11 feet, well above the major flood stage.

1010 WINS’ John Montone: Little Falls Residents Warned Of Flood Dangers

Emergency Management director Fred Battelli told 1010 WINS’ John Montone that he will not risk the lives of first responders if people ignore the call to evacuate.

“To send firemen and police officers in boats to take people out who could’ve left when it was much safer to do so, I think, is almost irresponsible,” Battelli said.

Residents along the Millstone and Raritan Rivers were watching the waters carefully.

“Moses isn’t available these days to part the waters, so you have to do what you have to do,” Manville resident Cathy Quick told WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell. “It’s nature – you can’t stop it, you just do the best you can.”

It was a dark and dangerous ride by boat through flooded-out Lincoln Park late Friday night.

Houses were surrounded by water, and as night fell the road was no longer visible, with basketball backboards and the tops of fences serving as the only landmarks, reports CBS 2’s Derricke Dennis.

“This is not the first time this has happened,” Lincoln Park resident Gisele Bosits said. “You kind of get numb and do the best you can.”

EXTRA: Extensive Video Coverage Of Tri-State Floods

Bosits and her children could only watch the Pompton River rise, flooding their basement. A pump was working overtime, but barely making a dent.

“Some people say it’s going to be as bad as ’84, some people say it’s not,” Bosits said. “We just have to keep our fingers crossed

1010 WINS’ Al Jones reports: Elmsford Residents Knee-Deep In Water

Christie said engineers are working to clean out rivers and make floods less likely, but the only way to ensure people don’t get flooded out in these areas is for them to move.

“We have to get focused on trying to deal with this problem in the Passaic River Basin in the same way that we dealt with it down in Bound Brook,” Gov. Christie said.

Residents of Lincoln Park were forced to wade through knee-deep water, and there was so much water in Pequannock that thousands of residents had to be evacuated. The National Guard sent in trucks to get residents to dry ground.

CBS 2’s Josh Landis Reports Christie Toured The Flood-Damaged Areas

WCBS 880’s Sean Adams: Little Falls, NJ mayor urges residents to evacuate

Tammy Panzino and her two young children had to get out as the waters inched closer to their home, but her husband stayed behind at their home on Oakwood Avenue.

“He doesn’t listen to me,” she said. “He’ll get out. Last year, we lived here, he got out when they shut the power off.”

Tammy’s husband, David Panzino, rowed his way through the water to get gas to keep his power on.

“I’m going to rough it out, stay home. I’ve dealt with it for plenty of years, so it is what it is,” he said. “The boat runs. If I have to get out, dogs go in the boat and I’m out of here.”

WCBS 880’s Paul Murnane in Elmsford, NY: Getting Around Westchester Is No Easy Task

Residents also had to be evacuated in Pompton Plains, where the water reached the doors of many homes.

“There’s no way else to get over there besides a boat,” flood victim Jorand Lohn said.

Residents blame their problems on the flood gates built by the federal government on the Pequannock River. Christie told CBS 2’s Christine Sloan that he has commissioned a study to see if that’s the case.

1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg reports: Firefighters are using rafts to fish out trapped families

“I’m hearing the same things you’re hearing – these folks think it’s the flood gates,” Gov. Christie said. “I want to find out, too, because if it’s something we can do to fix the flood gates that’ll make the situation better, that would be a relatively easy fix given some of the other alternatives that we have.”

While the situation is dire in the Garden State, similar problems exist up in Westchester County. In the village of Elmsford, knee-deep floodwaters have cost local businesses and their exhausted owners millions of dollars since flooding began on Monday.

CBS 2’s Tony Aiello Reports From Elmsford Where Cost Of The Damage By Floods Is Rising

Mayor Bobby Williams said the double dose of flooding this week took a toll on more than two dozen vehicles that ended up either partially or fully submerged. More than a dozen businesses were waterlogged by spillover from the nearby Saw Mill River.

1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg In Hastings-On-Hudson: The Saw Mill River Is Spilling Its Banks Onto A Nearby Parkway

“It’s just such a low-lying area, everything comes in here,” business owner Nick Nicolosi.

Nicolosi said the situation is disheartening for struggling small business owners.

“Second time in a week, man, it’s tough,” he said. “Try to take the good with the bad, try to go along, but as you can see, it’s not going too good.”

CBS 2’s Christine Sloan Reports From Pompton Lakes, NJ Where A Nearby River Has Overflowed

Garage owner Lenny Reino said he’s lucky his cars didn’t end up underwater. His shop sits right on the banks of the Bronx River in the village of Bronxville, and the shop certainly flooded, but Reino was on top of it.

“First thing I did, I opened the garage, saw water in shop, pulled out all my expensive cars, made a few phone calls,” he told CBS 2’s John Slattery. “Got everything out.”

CBS 2’s Dave Carlin Reports From Westchester Where River Were Overflowing

In the past he wasn’t so lucky – Reino lost three cars in the last big flood in April of 2007.

It’s a wonder more cars weren’t swallowed Friday with portions of the Bronx River, Sprain Brook, Hutchinson River and Taconic State parkways shut down due to flooding.

For many drivers, the usual route home Friday night was a washout, with rushing rivers where cars should be.

In Yonkers, the Saw Mill River rose up and over the parkway it shares its name with, ruining the night of Dyker Heights resident Annie DeVitto, reports CBS 2’s Dave Carlin.

“Even if we get a little ways further, you don’t know what’s ahead of you,” she said. “Water is ahead of us.”

Amid the destruction of the tremendous flooding in our area, there are some spots of beauty. WCBS 880 Anchor Wayne Cabot stopped by Great Falls in Paterson, N.J. where, after heavy rains, the waterfall looked magnificent.

This week’s floods follow an extremely active winter which has left many municipalities dealing with strained budgets.

CBS 2’s Pablo Guzman reports from ‘Marine 2′ as streets in Lincoln Park are flooded

Severe Weather Alerts:

Flood Warning in CT – Hartford , Northern Fairfield , Northern New Haven , Southern Fairfield , Southern New Haven

Flood Warning, Areal Flood Warning in CT – Northern Litchfield , Southern Litchfield

Areal Flood Warning in NJ – Eastern Passaic , Sussex , Western Passaic

Flood Warning in NJ – Hunterdon , Mercer , Somerset

Flood Warning, Areal Flood Warning in NJ – Morris

Flood Warning – Sullivan

Areal Flood Warning – Eastern Columbia , Rockland

Areal Flood Warning – Eastern Dutchess , Western Dutchess

Flood Warning, Areal Flood Warning – Eastern Ulster , Western Ulster

Flood Warning in PA – Pike

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