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Communities along Passaic River still under floodwaters

Paterson residents impacted by Tuesday's storm worried about more flooding
Paterson residents impacted by Tuesday's storm worried about more flooding 02:12

PATERSON, N.J. -- Flooding continued for communities along the Passaic and Pompton rivers in New Jersey on Friday.

Chopper 2 was over Bergen Street in Paterson early Friday morning, where firefighters in a high-water vehicle evacuated two people surrounded by floodwaters. A third was rescued after attempting to drive through floodwaters.

Since Thursday, first responders have performed more than a dozen rescues, and the danger is far from over. 

"We've got another bit of trouble coming. We're expecting it, but there's nothing we can really do about it," resident Alvin Felder told CBS New York's Christina Fan. 

Watch Chopper 2 over Paterson

Nearly 2 dozen Paterson streets closed due to flooding 01:12

The Passaic River crested at 9.7 feet and is now heading down, but Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh says not for long. Officials are urging families to remain vigilant as the city braces for more rainfall.

"Here's what's going to compound the situation -- we're expecting an inch to maybe two inches of rain tonight into tomorrow, so that means the river is going to go back up," Sayegh said.

The mayor said 22 roads across the city were barricaded off, and schools were canceled Friday. Families are urged to leave the area and head to a shelter site. There are two shelters open.

Many people say flooding is nothing new here, so when is something going to change?

"There's two things we've done as a city -- last year, we applied for a grant to the Department of Community Affairs. It's to build a flood resiliency wall on McBride Avenue to help us combat the flooding. Also, the Department of Community Affairs is offering a flood mitigation program where people can apply to have their homes elevated," Sayegh said.

Another program could be buyouts, he says.

Homeowners brace for another round of rain

The Passaic River caused a lot of strife for families in Paterson on Friday. There are still a lot of flooded streets, but some drivers are ignoring the closed roads and trying to get through. It's not easy to see how deep any of that water is in the dark, however.

CBS New York's Alecia Reid talked to a family who bought their home on East Main Street a year and a half ago. Between the storm back in December and the one this week, they have already spent a lot of money to replace the things they've lost.

Their washer and dryer are gone. The boiler is broken, so there's no heat or hot water. The supplies to repair their home were all in the basement, and it all ended up under water.

They rushed to get two pumps ahead of Tuesday's storm, and although they were more prepared, the basement flooded again, causing just as much damage as last time.

"We lost the heat. We have no hot water ... at all. We were like that 'cause while we fix it and all that, we were waiting for the pieces to come because he ordered it and we were like that maybe a week. So the way we were getting heat is because the second floor has a different system, so some of our tubes are going through my apartment," Rosannis Polanco said.

The family has two young children, and they're concerned about Friday's storm. They plan on waking up throughout the night to check on the water level to make sure it doesn't rise from their basement to their first floor.

Business owners frustrated by flooding losses

Julius Sanchez's father owns A&R Used Auto Parts at the end of the block. They lost at least four cars to December's storm, and they're on pins and needles again.  

"He's stressed, we're all stressed," said Sanchez. "We lifted them up the highest we could. If water got in, then water got in. We did what we could."

On River Street, along one side of the Passaic River, Triangle Used Auto Parts owner Gabriel Ramirez says so far, he doesn't have any physical damage, but with the road shut down...

"Financial damage, you know?" he said. "No customers coming in and out."

Paterson business owners frustrated by losses from flooding 02:38

Directly across the river on Presidential Boulevard, the auto body shop there flooded. CBS New York's crews couldn't even get to it.

"The other guys, my colleagues on the other side, I know they're suffering. I called my friend, I told him I got some space, you wanna come over? But it's hard," Ramirez said.

Amauri Martinez's business is full of water.

"You know how much money I got lost in that building right now? Twenty-two thousand dollar AC machine, $15,000 AC machine, $9,000 scanners, customers' cars destroy," he said. "I'm tired of it. I'm tired of it, so I'm gonna see if I can get me another spot ... There's four drains right there. The city never cleans it."

CBS New York's Alice Gainer took his concerns to the mayor.

"I've actually spoken to our Public Works Department. They do. If you're talking about catch basins, yes, they do," Sayegh said.

He adds if there's room for improvement, they will make adjustments.

Passaic River floods surrounding towns, with more rain on the way 03:58

Over on Bergen Street, Ney Jaime showed Gainer videos of floodwaters surrounding his auto body shop. He says he waded through to get to his dog, Lady.

"That day, the water flooded and she jump onto the one machine and she's on the machine," Jaime said.

Water starts to recede in Wayne

Mayor of Wayne shares latest on flooding and rescue efforts 04:32

On the Pompton River over in Wayne, multiple drivers had to be rescued Thursday as floodwaters took over town.

CBS New York's Tony Sadiku found people using row boats and waders to get around. 

"The same people that were impacted this time are the same folks that got impacted Christmas time and really didn't have a holiday, and now the forecast is for rain again," Mayor Chris Vergano told Sadiku. 

Watch Chopper 2 over Wayne

Flooding continues to impact Wayne, New Jersey 01:01

Now it's time to throw out whatever has been ruined by the flood and collect all the garbage again. 

"It's sad, because kids can't go to school, traffic is stopped, we had Route 23 shut down, which just caused major havoc for everybody," he said.  

The mayor said the city has purchased 340 homes with $100 million in FEMA money over the last 10 years with a buyout program to move people out of harm's way. 

"We're not in favor of elevating houses, because our fear is OK your house is up on that water, 3 o'clock in the morning you have chest pains, we still have to launch the boats to come get you. And that puts people in harm's way, it puts you in harm's way," he explained. "Just because you're up in the air, doesn't mean you're out of harm's way."

Route 46 East to close Saturday due to flooding 00:18

Because of the rain, Route 46 in the Wayne and Fairfield area will be closed Saturday. The Passaic River is already elevated in the area with flooding persistent on side streets. Officials say they also anticipate having to close Route 80 East at Exit 47-B. Those closures are expected to happen around 5 a.m. Saturday and last for several days.

Stick with our First Alert Weather team for the latest forecast and coverage of the cleanup. 

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