PATERSON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – Mayors from four surrounding towns of Paterson are asking a power plant to stop a plan at the Paterson Falls opponents say could cause major flooding in their towns.
Concerns come from 2011 during Hurricane Irene when he currents of the Passaic River swept through Paterson and its surrounding towns, forcing thousands to evacuate, reports CBS2’s Meg Baker.
“To lose everything when you have kids, it’s the worst,” said flood victim Rosanna Hastings.
“I want to make sure our residents are protected from future potential flooding events,” said Woodland Park Mayor Keith Kazmark.
The group sent Paterson’s mayor a letter pushing back on a plan by Eagle Creek Renewable Energy to re-install hydraulic devices called flashboards in the Passaic River near the Great Falls.
“Those flashboards supposed to go down to allow water move freely, but they stayed up thus creating a reservoir, and thus a dam, and all the water backed upriver,” said Totowa Mayor John Coiro.
The flashboards are designed to increase power-producing capacity at the hydroelectric plant at the Great Falls by raising the rivers water level by more than 2 feet.
The flashboards are supposed to automatically go down when the river reaches high levels to prevent flooding, but that didn’t happen in 2011, and the device was removed in 2012.
“There’s some discussion about new technology, that these flashboards may break off in a high water event,” said Woodland Park Mayor Keith Kazmark. “I can tell you we were told way back when the other flashboards were installed that was supposed to happen with that design. It did not, they never broke off during flooding events, so I have some skepticism.”
CBS2 made calls to Paterson’s mayor Andre Sayegh and stopped him before he went into an event this afternoon, but he would not comment.
Woodland park’s mayor says he did receive a meeting request from Sayegh and plans to stand his ground.