Wednesday, April 17, 2024

New Jersey faces state of emergency for heavy rain and flood risks, particularly along Passaic River

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New Jersey Declares State of Emergency as Heavy Rain and Flood Risks Loom, Focusing on Passaic River Precautions

New Jersey faces a state of emergency as Governor Phil Murphy activates measures in anticipation of a storm set to unleash heavy rain and elevate flood risks, particularly along the Passaic River. This comes as communities, such as Paterson, are still grappling with the aftermath of last month’s devastating flooding.

The state of emergency, effective from 5 p.m. Tuesday, encompasses all 21 counties across New Jersey. In response to the impending storm, mayors in Wayne, Pompton Lakes, and Lincoln Park have requested the opening of floodgates on the Pompton Lakes Dam to mitigate downstream flooding. However, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection has denied this request, citing the belief that opening the dam would not prevent flooding in this specific scenario.

New Jersey faces state of emergency for heavy rain and flood risks, particularly  along Passaic River - CBS New York

Governor Murphy, explaining the decision, emphasized the reliance on scientific assessments related to storm behavior and dam dynamics. Despite acknowledging the anticipated challenges ahead, Murphy underscored the Environmental Protection team’s confidence in the chosen approach.

In Paterson, still reeling from the recent storm that submerged homes, cars, and businesses, residents are bracing for another potential disaster. A local auto repair shop, already devastated by the previous flood, fears further losses with the approaching storm.

The Mayor of Paterson declared a citywide emergency also beginning at 5 p.m. Tuesday. Precautionary measures include the coordination of the fire and police departments, strategically positioning divisions on each side of the river to address potential flooding. With the water crest expected to reach 9.3, surpassing the previous storm’s crest of 8.4, the city is preparing for the worst-case scenario.

Troy Ayers, Paterson’s Office of Emergency Management Coordinator, revealed plans for a flash flood warning at 2 p.m., leading to the closure of certain streets. A Red Cross-operated shelter will be available 24 hours a day for the next five days at 60 Temple Street, offering support to residents impacted by the storm.

NJ Gov. Murphy: Do not under estimate impact of Tuesday rain

Constant communication between the mayor and the school superintendent will determine potential impacts on schools in the coming days, as the community rallies to face yet another significant weather challenge. As the state remains on alert, residents are urged to exercise caution and follow safety protocols to mitigate potential risks associated with the impending storm.

All too familiar in Little Falls

Officials worry the incoming system will exacerbate inclement conditions not just in Paterson but also in Little Falls. 

NJ storm watch: State of Emergency declared as major, heavy rainstorm looms

Back in December, residents there had to use boats to float home after rainfall forced the Passaic River beyond its banks. 

CBS New York’s Tony Sadiku heard from one resident who said keeping tabs on the river has become routine.

“We keep watching the gauges, online there’s gauges. So we keep watching those and just make sure it’s at an OK level,” she said. “It is what it is, water is water, you know, it’s nature, you can’t do much about it and you just hope for the best.”

The mayor of Little Falls says his crews just finished cleaning up from last month’s flood, and now they’re preparing all over again.

“The DPW has been clearing all of the catch basins to remove any blockages,” Little Falls Mayor James Damiano told CBS New York. “We’re hoping that the forecast is off a little bit.”

Meteorologists say, unfortunately, this is a high-confidence forecast, in part because of preexisting conditions. Rivers are already swollen, and a lot of the snowpack in northern New Jersey is expected to melt. 

Long Island facing coastal flood concerns

Meanwhile on Long Island, residents are bracing for the rain and coastal flood concerns

Suffolk County Executive Ed Romaine issued a state of emergency Tuesday and urged people to use caution.

NJ storm watch: State of Emergency declared as major, heavy rainstorm looms

“I am issuing a State of Emergency for Suffolk County to ensure our residents are best prepared for the incoming severe weather,” he said in a statement. “While the height of the storm is anticipated to impact the County during the evening and overnight hours, I strongly advise our residents to avoid travel as heavy rainfall, strong wind gusts and potential flooding are all possible.”

Nassau County officials say crews will be clearing drains and will be ready with heavy duty pumps, if needed. 

Utilities are also preparing for dangerous wind gusts that could take down trees and knock out power. 

State of Emergency NYC issues travel advisory

The New York City Department of Emergency Management is warning of 2 to 3 inches of heavy rain, wind gusts of up to 60 miles per hour and moderate coastal flooding.

Mayor Eric Adams activated the city’s flash flood emergency plan, and a travel advisory has been issued from Tuesday in Wednesday. 

The MTA says empty tractor-trailers and tandem trucks will  be banned at its bridges and tunnels starting at 6 p.m. Tuesday. 

The State of Liberty is also closing early at 4 p.m. Tuesday and will have a delayed opening with the first visitor ferry at 10:10 a.m. Wednesday.

Stick with our First Alert Weather team for the latest track of the rain. We’ll be on the air early Wednesday starting at 4 a.m.

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