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Elizabeth to hold vigil to honor 4 people who died during Tropical Storm Ida

It has been one year since Tropical Storm Ida made a destructive path through New Jersey.

News 12 Staff

Sep 1, 2022, 4:08 PM

Updated 661 days ago

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It has been one year since Tropical Storm Ida made a destructive path through New Jersey.
The storm claimed 30 lives across the state – including the lives of four people inside an apartment complex in Elizabeth.
The Oakwood Plaza apartment complex is still cordoned off to the public and remains uninhabitable.
“We housed over 700 people. Almost 300 housing units were destroyed,” says Elizabeth Mayor Chris Bollwage. “Unfortunately, four people lost their lives.
The victims were three members of the Torres family and 33-year-old Shakia Garrett.
“It’s definitely a void,” says Hassanah Smith-Thomas, Garrett’s cousin.
Garrett died trying to save others from the flood.
“Got out, was safe. Was on her way. Went to go help her neighbors, got stuck inside the apartment. She called my uncle and told him, ‘I’m stuck. Can you please come and help me?’” Smith-Thomas says.
Garrett died just after midnight that night.
"You see people, men carrying babies on their shoulders, women on top of cars, you see trucks being moved by like an ocean wave. And four people lost their lives,” says New Jersey community activist Salaam Ismial.
Ismial is organizing a vigil on Friday to honor the victims. He says he hopes the public will come out to offer their prayers.
“We’re going to bring families who’ve been displaced, and of course the families who lost loved ones, because this should never be forgotten,” Ismial says.
The vigil will take place at 4 p.m. Friday on the 400 block of Irvington Avenue.
Mayor Bollwage says that while the buildings in the complex have not been inhabited, the city is hoping that by October, at least one of the buildings in the back that has been refurbished will be re-opened for new residents to move into.


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