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Flooding Remains Major Concern For NJ Residents After Irene

LITTLE FALLS, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) -- New Jersey rivers busted out of their banks Monday, causing record floods in some places, leaving residents elsewhere frustrated that they're stuck with homes that flood regularly and offering the first major test of new flood-control measures in one town that was awash 12 years ago.

The scene in inland areas showed that the sense of relief a day earlier -- that Hurricane Irene's wrath in the state wasn't as bad as feared -- was premature.

SEE: User-Submitted Pictures Of Irene's Wrath | Irene's Aftermath From Chopper 880

Tracks at the Trenton train station remained covered by floodwaters, a prime reason Amtrak officials did not know when they would be able to restore service between Philadelphia and New York City. New Jersey Transit said it planned to restore most of its commuter rail service Tuesday, though service between New Brunswick and Trenton would remain suspended.

Detours were set up on hundreds of roads -- big and small -- because of high waters and fallen trees. Thousands of homes and businesses were still without electricity Monday night, even as utility companies brought hundreds of thousands of others back on line.

Click Here for Updated Info On Outages: Con Ed | PSE&G | LIPA | CL&P | Orange & Rockland

"We're not out of the woods yet regarding this storm," Gov. Chris Christie told a news conference Monday night in Manville, the scene of major flooding.


The residents of New Milford, along the Hackensack River, took a beating from Hurricane Irene, which left the area with flooded basements and frustrated sentiments.

"We had a little bit of water, but nothing major.  And all of a sudden, it was like literally the flood gates opened and water started really coming down the road," one woman told WCBS 880's Marla Diamond.

WCBS 880's Marla Diamond Reports From New Milford


Another couple in the community, who was still paying off a FEMA loan from previous flooding, faced even more damage to their basement and first floor.  After giving Diamond a tour of the damage, they said they were simply tired of having the same scenario play out time and time again.

"When is it going to stop," they asked.

New Milford's mayor said while the community has endured plenty of flooding in the past, this time, it happened too fast for them to cope with and for the reservoirs to handle.


In Brook Bound, New Jersey, residents were busy clearing storm drains and pulling debris from water-logged streets.

That job was being done by a half-dozen homeowners, who were frustrated crews weren't out doing the work themselves.

WCBS 880's Peter Haskell On Flooding In South Bound Brook


"We would like to let the city know -- guess what? You guys are not doing your jobs.  You should be doing something about this, you should be pumping this water out and helping the citizens to get these things done," Giovanni Belgrave told CBS 2's Christine Sloan.

However, the mayor of Brook Bound, Carey Pilato, said that the city was in disaster priority mode that emptying storm drains wasn't one of the highest priorities

Brook Bound has had to deal with more than 500 homes ravaged by water.  In addition, some flood gates and a levy that  cost some $130 million dollars didn't stop the waters from coming in, according to some residents.


There was widespread tree carnage across West Orange as well with branches and limbs littering neighborhoods after Irene's fury.

1010 WINS' Steve Sandberg reports: Tree Carnage Across West Orange


Wendy and Tom Edwards tell 1010 WINS' Steve Sandberg that they are now in the dark.

"First we heard it rip the power line off the house and then we heard it take out the street and the pole," Wendy Edwards said.

The couple is now trapped in their home with high-tension wires draped across their driveway and little answers as how big the danger really is.

"The big issue is that no one's been able to tell us whether the wire still has electricity in it," she said. "We can't get any information."

Several communities are also without water, including residents in Summit, West Orange, Millburn, Maplewood, Irvington and Springfield. They are experiencing no water or low water pressure. It could take several days for service to return. A boil water order is in effect for those communities as well as Short Hills.

Irene was just the third hurricane in 200 years to make landfall in New Jersey. Officials said it was responsible for at least five deaths.

Cranford Canoe Club
A window screen matted with leaves at the Cranford Canoe Club along the Rahway River - Cranford, NJ - Aug 29, 2011 (credit: Peter Haskell / WCBS 880)

WCBS 880's Peter Haskell In Cranford


There was a funky smell along the Rahway River in Cranford that reasonably approximates oil or gas. The river overflowed its banks, flooding homes and leaving that smell behind.

Lexi Christianson just moved there from Utah a month ago and was trapped on the second flood of her house.

"We were mostly crying. It's horrible when you can't control what's going on and just seeing all our stuff being destroyed. It was pretty hard," she said, adding that she lost almost everything.

"The water came in... filled the basement, came into the first floor, maybe a couple of feet," said Jennifer Capell, who has lived there for 24 years.

A number of residents were pulling out all of their water-logged furniture and belongings Monday and putting them on their lawns to dry. In Fairfield, firefighters revved up their motorboat to go down River Edge Drive, parallel to the Passaic River.

WCBS 880's Levon Putney In Fairfield


They were checking on Michelle Citerella's house because her carbon monoxide alarm was going off.

"The town came back to check to see if they could turn the gas off, which they couldn't.  So my husband's gonna have to go back down and get the cat out," she said.

Citerella and her family went to a hotel, but one of her neighbors didn't.

"My home's up high and it's eight inches from my first floor, which I have not got hit on my first floor," she said.

Citerella's application for the state's chronic flood area buyout program was rejected. "I don't know what I'm going to do at this point," she said.

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