POMPTON PLAINS, NJ (CBSNewYork/AP) – A week after Tropical Storm Irene sent many rivers in New Jersey cresting over their banks, turning places like Pompton Plains and Paterson into rushing rivers or lakes, woe is giving way to woe as the waters finally recede.

Ron Fast decided it would be best if his family stayed behind at Disney World to finish their vacation so he could fly back to his Pompton Plains home and begin cleaning up.

“That’s been the toughest part. We’ll get through it though, it’s going to be tough,” Fast told CBS 2′ Jay Dow.

“The whole thing is draining. Very tiring,” Ellen Reinacke said.

Many homeowners have been forced to bring all of their belongings out into the front yard. The hope is that with some fresh air and some time under the sun, something can be saved. For too many people, however, the reality is that Hurricane Irene took everything.

“I’m beyond exhausted – beyond. It just begins – we still have to rip everything out, rip the carpet out, then go to our friends, help them as much as we can,” said Little Falls resident Laurie Ratti.

In Cranford, resident Mariangela Moore is coping with the damage to her home.

“Our television, and the playroom for our kids,” were both irreparably damaged, Moore told CBS 2’s Sean Hennessey.

“All of it now is gone?” Hennessey asked.

“It’s so disgusting, I can’t even begin to tell you,” Moore replied.

The Health and Senior Services Department has opened a call center to field questions about health concerns stemming from Hurricane Irene. It will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and during the weekend and Labor Day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The number is 866-234-0964.

In addition to trying to clean up the filth and muck left behind by the toxic brew of gas, sewage and other liquids that polluted the flooded areas, residents have a new concern: looters.

1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg reports: Make Or Break Weekend For Jersey Shore

With the lucrative Labor Day weekend kicking off, many business owners are hoping tourists will return to the Jersey shore.

“Come down, spend the day at the beach, enjoy your day for a little while, and then go back to your real life,” Colin Calafato, manager of Beckman’s on the Beach in Belmar, told 1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg. “We’re really hoping everybody comes down this weekend.”

“I’m just assuming that 25 percent of our business won’t come,” Tom Rogers, owner of TR’s Food Court, said. “They have more critical things in their residences up north that they have to take care of, their homes.”

WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond: Water Still Hasn’t Receded In Little Falls

Meanwhile, there are still tens of thousands of Garden State residents in the dark after Irene. Although Jersey Central Power & Light thinks it will have service restored to most of them by midnight. Some lingering outages are expected through Sunday in Monmouth, Morris, Hunterdon, Sussex, Passaic and Warren counties.

PSE&G says many of their 4,400 customers who are still without power will have it restored today. Complete restoration in Middlesex, Somerset and Union counties is expected by Sunday.

Irene is having an impact on New Jersey industries. The state Environmental Protection Department has closed many shellfish beds due to high bacteria levels. Runoff from the hurricane is blamed for polluting the area.The beds will be shut down for at least seven more days.

President Barack Obama is set to visit New Jersey to see the devastation in Paterson first-hand on Sunday. New Jersey has been declared a federal disaster area, which will free up recovery funds.Those in Bergen, Essex, Morris, Passaic and Somerset counties can apply for disaster aid online, or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA.

What do you make of the overall response to Irene in New Jersey? Tell us in our comments section.


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