PATERSON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — The White House says President Barack Obama will be visiting Paterson, New Jersey on Sunday to survey the damage left by Irene.
“Maybe he can do something about it. A lot of people, they lost their houses,” Nancy Montez told CBS 2’s Lou Young of the President’s expected visit.
New Jersey was hit hard by the storm. Rain-swollen rivers throughout the state rose, sending flood waters into dozens of communities and prompting evacuations.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and FEMA toured the Garden State to view the damage first hand Wednesday. Obama also signed a federal disaster declaration for New Jersey, which will free up recovery funds.
Flooding continues to be a major problem in Paterson, where several streets turned into rushing rivers as the water churned over corners and down roads.
Residents are being told to boil their water before drinking, but even then, it seems suspect.
‘I bottled it in my empty bottles and you can see that it’s not clear. You can see that it’s brownish looking. And it tastes horrible,” one woman told CBS 2’s Lou Young.
The situation has been overwhelming for Louisa Taveras, who lost everything in the flood waters that have taken over the city.
“It’s like five feet of water inside the apartment and everything is under water,” Taveras tearfully told CBS 2’s Christine Sloan. “The fact that we work so hard to get what we have and then…to lose it.”
Taveras and her pregnant roommate, both college students, barely got out before the storm.
“The money that I did try to save up to get the baby stuff, I actually have to use now to get us food and everything,” Taveras’ roomate said.
However, both women said they were thankful their dog, Cleo, was rescued and staying at an animal shelter that has become known as “Hotel Irene” to so many dogs pulled from the raging waters.
“My heart goes out for these people. It’s the least we could do is take care of their pets. We rescued about 19 dogs and about 3 or 4 cats already,” John Decando, of the Paterson Animal Shelter, said.
There were 1,100 rescues of people in the city, where life has come to a standstill. Bridges have washed away, cars are under water and stores are flooded and closed.
With residents dealing with the force of Mother Nature, one Paterson family was mourning the loss of an 18-year-old sister and daughter, who died from a diabetic attack as the raging waters moved in.
“I called the ambulance, it took them a minute for them to come over here…by the time they got here, it was too late. She was gone,” Rosetta Best said.
Meanwhile, thousands of customers are still without power. JCP&L and PSE&G said that they expected to have most of their outages restored by late Friday night or the weekend.
There was some good news for New Jersey Transit riders as well. The agency said it is restoring full service on the Montclair-Boonton Line. But there is still no rail service at Bound Brook because of flooding on the Raritan Valley Line.
Rail service on the Port Jervis Line is also suspended due to flood damage between Suffern and Harriman. Buses are being used there.
Should President Obama Visit Flood-Ravaged Paterson sooner than Sunday? Sound off in our comments section below…
(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.)