Local leaders in counties like Hudson, Essex and Union are concerned, but there is a chance they get added to the list, which currently includes Bergen, Gloucester, Hunterdon, Middlesex, Passaic and Somerset counties. Gainer drove around and talked to folks as they continued to clean up.
Video from outside the Cruz home in the Passaic town of Little Falls shows the rising flood waters. A mark on the back of their house shows how high it got.
“A nightmare. It was a horrible mess. I mean, there was mud all over the place. Very difficult to walk, slippery,” Tommy Cruz said.
Cruz has family helping him clean up, family he hasn’t even seen in a long time due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s really hard to get a remediation company out here to start cleaning up,” Cruz said. “They told me to give them at least two to three weeks. Even the insurance company, it’s going to take them about a week and a half to come up here.”
Cruz and his pregnant wife have a 5-year-old and another child due any day now. They have flood insurance, but this is the second time they’ve had flooding since they bought the house.
“It’s time for us to go,” Cruz said.
In Somerset County, Anthony Koemple of Manville has been parting with his family’s precious belongings. His basement is still wet and muddy, and half of the family’s first floor sits soaked on the sidewalk.
“I could have done cannonballs off my roof. That’s how deep the water was,” Koemple told CBS2’s Jessica Layton.
“The kids’ toys is the most heartbreaking because they don’t understand the magnitude of what happened,” Koemple added, referring to what his family lost.
We just launched a data collection portal for New Jerseyans impacted by Tropical Storm Ida outside of the six counties with a Major Disaster Declaration.
This portal will ensure we are ready to get federal dollars into hands as quickly as possible.https://t.co/6Pox89MC9A
— Governor Phil Murphy (@GovMurphy) September 6, 2021
Over in Caldwell, the children’s room at the public library was ruined. Books could be seen scattered outside and in a large dumpster as work was done to clean it up.
Caldwell is in Essex, a county that was not included in the major New Jersey disaster declaration.
“I’d like folks to think of this as a work in progress. So, this is the first six, the most obvious six, but not necessarily the last six. We’re gonna stay in there fighting to get other counties added to that list,” said Murphy, who continued his tour of damage in Lambertville.
In downtown Millburn, which is also in Essex, dumpsters are full and storefronts are empty.
“I just bought this restaurant two and a half months ago,” said Eric Wang, owner of Umi Sushi.
Wang said he was relieved when volunteers showed up with supplies.
“The way that the people have come together is just unbelievable,” Millburn resident Joanna Parker-Lentz said.
Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop said he wants Hudson County on the list.
“It’s not like the storm miraculously flew over us and didn’t touch us,” Fulop said. “We had about $35 million infrastructure to the city that was damaged. That’s not including tens of millions of dollars to personal property.”
Kathy Zhao moved in just days before the storm. She said she needs the federal assistance.
“The door had just flown open, just a waterfall coming into our apartment. We had just moved in. It went four feet (high),” Zhao said. “We’re on a ridge and our insurance doesn’t cover flood insurance because we’re not on a flood plain, so it wasn’t expected in any way.”
There is a data collection portal for New Jerseyans impacted by Ida outside of the six counties with a major disaster declaration. To see it, please click here.
President Joe Biden will be in New Jersey on Tuesday getting a first-hand look at the damage.
CBS2’s Jessica Layton contributed to this report.