LITTLE FALLS, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A massive cleanup is underway across New Jersey after Saturday’s powerful storms hit town after town.
CBS2’s Natalie Duddridge saw the devastation firsthand on Sunday as residents spent the day pumping water from their basements.
One Little Falls neighborhood was hit particularly hard. People were leaving piles of furniture as their once-precious belongings are now in ruins. Duddridge met families who lost not only their stuff, but in some cases their entire home.
The foundation of one home was literally washed away after Saturday’s storm swept through the neighborhood, leaving some residents homeless.
“Everything. All my belongings, all the things gone. Everything,” resident Mohamed Mohamed said. “If they knock down the house, the whole year I have nowhere to go.”
Mohamed’s home is now condemned and it’s a similar story for his neighbor, whose basement was filled with his belongings floating in water. The local fire department spent Sunday working to pump out as many basements as it could.
“When I got here there was water almost up to the ceiling,” Little Falls firefighter Mike Diana said.
Some residents said they believe the flooding was caused by a dam of cars that washed away from a local dealership and diverted water into their neighborhood.
A dramatic video shows cars from the Route 46 Chrysler Jeep Dodge dealership sucked into the Peckham River and piled up under the bridge.
“The cars got washed into that stream and the bottle neck and the water came rushing down over 46, off the exit ramp, down to my area,” resident Marino Florio said.
The flood waters did not stop there. They spewed across streets and rose halfway up the doors of some businesses, turning the road into a river in the process.
Some resident said the water did as much damage to their property as Hurricane Sandy.
“My house is done. Done, done, just done. I’ve got $250,000 in flood insurance for a house I could’ve sold for $350,000, it’s done. And they don’t give you any insurance for contents when you get flood insurance,” John Riley said.
“Almost like a tsunami came in, a mini tsunami came in and just my garage door was bent over, u-shaped because the pressure from the water just flowed right into my basement,” Florio added.
Caldwell recorded some of the highest rain totals at just under 5 inches. Some business owners said they scrambled to close their stores. One took video of a woman as she tried to walk to her car — the water up to her knees.
“It’s never happened here,” Caldwell resident Yash Shah said. “I spoke to some people today and they’re like we haven’t seen this happen in like 50 years.”
And then eventually, when the water receded, a fire erupted from a manhole in downtown Caldwell, sending people into a panic.