“Thank God you’re safe. That’s the most important thing. We’ll help you rebuild,” Biden said.
As Alice Gainer reported, he met the Dommar family, which spoke to CBS2 last Friday. They were there picking up the pieces after their home exploded.
Hours before, they had evacuated with their 4-month-old baby.
Firefighters were called back to the scene Tuesday night to douse additional hot spots that popped up — almost a week later.
Earlier, Gov. Phil Murphy and other local leaders met with the president.
“The losses that we witnessed today are profound,” Biden said. “Dozens of lost lives, homes destroyed in Manville, including by gas leaks triggered by the flooding.
“My thoughts are with all those families affected by the storms and all those families who lost someone they love,” he added.
Walking the streets full of destruction, the president embraced disaster victims one after another.
Thank you @POTUS for visiting New Jersey to see Tropical Storm Ida devastation firsthand. We have families to help get back into their homes, businesses to help get back on their feet, and roads to repair. We’re grateful for the President’s full support in these efforts. pic.twitter.com/0AgB9Y4NYc
— Governor Phil Murphy (@GovMurphy) September 7, 2021
“We need help. So if the governor or the president sees this, please,” building superintendent Hermie Rios said.
Video from the basement of Elizabeth Towers, a seniors complex, shows water quickly coming into the basement and rising nearly to the ceiling.
When asked if he had ever experienced flooding like that before in the building, Rios said, “No ma’am, not even on Superstorm Sandy. Maybe a couple inches. That’s all. But not like this.”
Everything in the basement was lost.
“Boilers, water heaters, domestic water booster pump, a brand new generator,” Rios said. “I’m especially worried because from the seventh floor up I don’t have any water.”
Watch Alice Gainer’s report —
Meanwhile, one man was outside trying to salvage his flooded-out car.
“I put the baking soda to try and get the odor because it’s wet,” he said.
Rebecca Cobos showed Gainer the basement apartment she lived in with her two young children.
“We’re here. We’re not invisible. I feel like nobody knows we’re here,” Cobos said. “If you look outside, that’s our whole livelihood. There’s nothing also left. I saw the water rush in as soon as I opened the door. I went to my kids’ room and it was coming out the windows, out the AC unit, so I had to wake them up.”
She said her parents live next door and her brother is nearby. All of them lost everything.
“My support system is like kind of shaken right now because we all need help,” Cobos said.
WATCH: President Biden Arrives In Hillsborough Township, New Jersey
It took just a few hours for the storm to destroy Robert Mascal’s hopeful future with his family in their South Street home.
“Everything gone. A whole life of building gets torn down in eight hours,” he told CBS2’s Jessica Layton.
Elizabeth Lescano can’t escape the memory of being rescued by boat after she was trapped with the kids and dogs.
“It looked like the Titanic, looking down. The water rising, couldn’t do nothing,” she said.
Now that the seven-foot high flood water has dried up, there’s nothing left inside, which means everything belonging to baby Robert is also gone.
“The rocking chairs are gone, our couch, this toy hardware set, our Christmas memorabilia,” Mascal said.
Also in the mess are the suit and dress Mascal and Lescano were supposed to wear to get married in two weeks.
With three-hour wait times on the phone for FEMA and no help yet from insurance, homeowners like Mascal are praying such a high-profile visit gets them the resources they desperately need to rebuild.
“It’s great if he comes through and hopefully it’s just not a photo opportunity for him,” Mascal said. “I mean, I know it’s only been a week, but it’s a long time when you have nothing.”
Prior to to the president’s arrival, resident Matthew Burlum told CBS2’s John Dias about the uphill battle he now faces.
“We moved in the weekend before the storm, got everything in, got everything in the basement,” Burlum said.
Almost everything is now on the sidewalk, completely ruined after Ida ripped through and flooded his new home. Some things were irreplaceable.
“My grandfather’s WWII desk I had to cut up to get out of the basement. It just started falling apart,” Burlum said.
But the Navy veteran was able to salvage his father’s American flag, which is now on display in front of the home.
His whole neighborhood was ravaged.
“We have no hot water, no gas, no stove,” resident Earnest Lukacs said.
Some stores are temporarily closed, others seemingly destroyed.
Crews are trying to clean up as much as possible, but the demand is too high. Everywhere you go, mountains of debris serve as reminders of what happened.
Hannah Thomas doesn’t need the reminder. She will forever recall swimming through the floods to save her three cats.
“It was freezing,” she told Dias. “I walked past my TV, all I felt was an electric current, and it just shook my whole body.”
The borough has flooded before, but neighbors say never this bad.
Will Liu and his family needed a water rescue.
“I was rescued by the canoe,” he said. “My wife and my son.”
The six New Jersey counties that were hit hard by flooding that qualify for federal aid are Bergen, Gloucester, Hunterdon, Middlesex, Passaic and Somerset.
The governor said he plans on discussing aid for other areas during the president’s visit.
Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop tweeted Tuesday that he is “optimistic that Hudson County will be added.”
Manville residents still haven’t been given a specific time of when all their trash will be cleaned up, but they think by next week.
Meanwhile, the governor has directed United States and New Jersey flags to fly at half-staff in honor of those who lost their lives during the storm. Flags at all state buildings and facilities will be lowered through Friday.
CBS2’s John Dias and Jessica Layton contributed to this report. Editor’s note: This story first appeared on Sept. 7, 2021.