State of Emergency Declared in New Jersey Due to Heavy Rain and Flooding Concerns, Especially Along Passaic River

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Starting at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, a state of emergency will be in place due to an incoming storm anticipated to bring heavy rainfall and increase the risk of flooding in New Jersey, particularly along the Passaic River, where recent flooding has left residents still grappling with its aftermath.

Governor Phil Murphy has declared a state of emergency across all 21 counties in the Garden State.

Requests from the mayors of Wayne, Pompton Lakes, and Lincoln Park to open floodgates at the Pompton Lakes Dam ahead of the storm, aimed at preventing downstream flooding, were denied by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.

They explained that opening the dam wouldn’t effectively mitigate flooding in this scenario.

On Tuesday morning, Governor Murphy commented on the decision, “Considering the scientific factors governing these storms and dam behavior, they believe refraining from that action aligns with the science.”

He acknowledged the challenging circumstances expected but emphasized the firm stance of the Environmental Protection team on the matter.

Christina Fan, reporting for CBS New York, delivered updates from Paterson, where the mayor is cautioning residents about the possibly hazardous conditions.

Residents in that area remain fatigued from a storm that hit three weeks back, causing floods in homes, cars, and businesses and resulting in school closures. Now, there’s a looming fear of a recurrence of similar circumstances.

The recent floodwaters wreaked havoc on an auto repair shop, wiping out a significant portion of its inventory. Workers are anxious that this incoming storm might further erode what little they’ve managed to salvage.

“I was almost set to ship everything to Miami. I lost it all,” shared one worker with Fan. “FEMA, no help at all. Absolutely nothing. At this point, it’s just me and my two hands. It’s unbelievable.”

Ahead of the storm’s arrival, the mayor has declared a citywide emergency set to commence at 5 p.m. on Tuesday.

“We’re collaborating with the fire and police departments to split their units on either side of the river, just in case of high flooding,” explained Troy Ayers, Paterson’s Office of Emergency Management Coordinator.

“Currently, we’re anticipating a crest of 9.3. For the previous storm, it was 8.4. So, we’re preparing for the worst-case scenario.”

Ayers mentioned plans for a flash flood warning at 2 p.m. and the closure of specific streets. “We’re also opening a Red Cross-managed shelter at 60 Temple Street, operating 24/7 for the next five days,” he added.

Regarding the impact on schools, the mayor assured continuous communication with the superintendent to assess potential closures in the upcoming days.

Similar concerns loom over Little Falls, where officials fear the incoming system might exacerbate existing challenges. In December, residents resorted to using boats to navigate their flooded homes after the Passaic River overflowed.

Monitoring the river has become routine for locals, with one resident acknowledging, “It’s nature, you can’t do much about it, and you just hope for the best.”

Little Falls Mayor James Damiano highlighted ongoing preparations after just completing post-flood cleanup from the previous month. “We’ve been clearing all catch basins in anticipation, hoping the forecast might be a bit off,” he mentioned.

Meteorologists express high confidence in the forecast due to various factors, including swollen rivers and anticipated snowpack melting in northern New Jersey.

Meanwhile, on Long Island, Suffolk County Executive Ed Romaine declared a state of emergency, urging caution among residents ahead of expected severe weather.

Nassau County officials prepared to clear drains and deploy heavy-duty pumps if necessary, anticipating coastal flood concerns and dangerous wind gusts that could cause power outages.

In New York City, Mayor Eric Adams activated the flash flood emergency plan, issuing a travel advisory starting Tuesday and extending through Wednesday.

The MTA announced restrictions on empty tractor-trailers and tandem trucks at bridges and tunnels from 6 p.m. Tuesday. Additionally, the Statue of Liberty planned to close early on Tuesday and delay its Wednesday opening.

Each region is bracing for potential impacts from heavy rain, strong winds, and flooding, with authorities and utilities taking precautions and advising residents to stay safe during the impending severe weather conditions.

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