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Rain-Swollen East Coast Waterways Slowly Recede

N.J. flooding

The flooding in New Jersey this time around may end up to be a bigger problem than ever before. (Photo: CBS 2)

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PATERSON, N.J. (AP/CBSNewYork) — Rain-swollen waterways in northern New Jersey were slowly receding Sunday after cresting overnight, causing fewer evacuations than expected but still flooding roadways around in the region.

Despite clear skies in the forecast, officials said flooding will remain a concern for at least the next few days, and it’s not clear when all affected residents will be able to return to their homes.

PHOTO GALLERY: Heavy Rains, Floods Ravage The Garden State, Westchester

The Passaic River crested at 9 p.m. Saturday — earlier than expected — and has been receding ever since.

LISTEN: 1010 WINS’ Glenn Schuck speaks with residents of Little Falls


Kristin Kline, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Mount Holly, said Sunday that the river crested at four feet above flood stage in Little Falls, and about three feet over flood stage in Pine Brook. The flooding wasn’t as severe as predicted, she said, but is still considered major.

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Officials had expected that the flooding would force hundreds of people to be evacuated from Paterson, Little Falls and other nearby areas by early Sunday. But that was not the case as many residents apparently took heed of warnings and left before the flooding occurred, finding temporary shelter with friends and family.

“The flooding is causing problems obviously, but there haven’t been any injuries or deaths yet, and that’s what’s important,” an emergency services dispatcher in Paterson said Sunday morning.

Less than 100 people were staying in two shelters set up in Paterson, while roughly a dozen people stayed overnight at a shelter in Little Falls. The sites will remain open as long as there is a need for them, officials said.

The flooding continued to cause major travel disruptions in the region. Several major roadways remained closed, while traffic was moving slowly through others water-logged roadways. Some cars stuck in high waters had been abandoned, and a bus became stuck on a bridge in Paterson early Sunday due to the flooding along the Passaic River.

But that didn’t stop people from heading out Sunday morning to the banks of the rain-swollen waterways to take a look at Mother Nature’s talents.

“That was awesome” said Jonathan Mottola, 10, of Verona as he watched the water surge past him. Others marveled at rainbows in the morning sky.

Meanwhile, most residents in other northern towns who had been evacuated earlier in the week were back home Sunday, surveying the damage caused by the floods and heavy rains that soaked New Jersey and other mid-Atlantic states in recent days.

Those storms had also caused problems in states from Maine to Maryland earlier in the week, but officials in those states say conditions were mostly back to normal by Sunday.

(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)