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North Jersey Communities Still Struggling Nearly A Year After Irene

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A flooded street following Hurricane Irene - Little Falls, NJ - Sep 1, 2011 (credit: Marla Diamond / WCBS 880)

A flooded street following Hurricane Irene – Little Falls, NJ – Sep 1, 2011 (credit: Marla Diamond / WCBS 880)

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LITTLE FALLS, N.J. (CBSNewYork) - It’s been almost a year now since Tropical Storm Irene left communities around the tri-state region in shambles, and many are still struggling.

WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond: Some People Still Aren’t Home

For all of the floods Little Falls has seen, this was the worst.

Williams Street became part of the Passaic River during Irene and Hans Prell nearly lost his home.

“When we saw you last, you were in hip waders with a row boat,” WCBS 880 reporter Marla Diamond said to him recently.

“It was the most frightening [flooding] I’ve ever been through in my lifetime. The biggest fear I had was when the water started coming into the house,” he said.

Since then the kitchen had to be completely remodeled after the storm caused over $100,000 in damage, covered only in part by his flood insurance.

The rest came from his wife Sandra’s 401(k).

“We’re starting over from scratch,” she said.

They’re hoping to have their home elevated before the next flood.

“You get used to it to, in a sense, you know what you gotta do. Plan A. Plan B. But now this is plan C because it never went up that high to the house,” resident Bill Netush told Diamond.

Little Falls Mayor Darlene Post said it’s been a difficult year of rebuilding.

“You have people that are not back into their homes. You have people who have actually walked away from their homes,” she said.

RELATED: WCBS 880 Tri-State Top 11 In 2011: No. 1 – Irene

Netush has thought about selling his home to the federal government.

“They said they may give me $260 [thousand]. I owe $290 [thousand]. So, no one’s gonna give me a break,” he told Diamond.

“You’re literally under water?” Diamond replied.

“Yeah, I’m literally under water,” he said. “So, where am I going? Nowhere.”

WCBS 880’s Levon Putney: They’re Still Cleaning Up

In North Jersey, there’s been an ongoing effort, even a year later, to clear debris in rivers left by the storm.

Along a stretch of the Passaic River in Totowa, a crew from the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission was chopping up one of a few huge trees which fell in the Passaic River

“We want to clear this blockage to let the water flow freely,” PVSC river restoration program manager Brian Davenport told WCBS 880 reporter Levon Putney. “A good portion of this material is from Hurricane Irene.”

He said the storm’s legacy is obvious a year later.

“If you look out on the islands behind us, you have all kinds of debris. You have home heating oil tanks,” he said.

There are also washing machines and other debris swept from people’s yards once the river crested after Irene.

So, they’re clearing blockages as they find them since they don’t want that kind of flooding again.

“We all hope. Absolutely,” he said.

How are you doing since Irene? Please share your story in the comments section below.

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