New Jersey towns still dealing with aftermath of December flood prep for Tuesday storm

Gov Phil Murphy declared a state of emergency for the Garden State starting Tuesday at 5 p.m.

Naomi Yané

Jan 9, 2024, 2:00 AM

Updated 185 days ago

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More rain is expected in the coming days and that’s adding insult to injury for many New Jerseyans who are still cleaning up after last month’s floods.
Gov Phil Murphy declared a state of emergency for the Garden State starting Tuesday at 5 p.m.
Fairfield residents aren’t even done cleaning up after the round of storms New Jersey saw just before Christmas. They’re already preparing for another bout of storms coming on Tuesday. Residents were lining up to fill up sandbags and load them into their cars, all in hopes of safeguarding their homes.
Jing Tian just moved to Fairfield four months ago and says it was a scary first-time experience for her.
“This time we’ll be more prepared. Last time we didn’t even come here for the sandbags,” Tian says.
The governor urged residents to take this storm seriously, especially those who live near the Passaic and Raritan rivers.
“This is one I would strongly strongly strongly encourage folks to not underestimate,” Murphy said.
Christopher Miller has lived in Fairfield for eight years and in that time has never seen floods this bad.
“These past couple of weeks flooding has been crazy. I’ve lived there since 2015 so now we're getting sandbags and trying to protect the house because last time it was a close call at Christmas Eve,” Miller says. “We were about one inch off our subfloor.”
In towns like Fairfield, folks are dealing with a trifecta that includes melting snow, slowly receding flood water and cresting rivers. Right now the Passaic is at 17 1/2 feet, just under flood stages.
Fairfield Police Officer Stacy Chiarolanza says the department is predicting higher numbers in hopes of getting less rain.
“The latest predictions we have, they’re talking about 21.9 feet [for the river] which would be higher than we were in December. We were at 21.52,” Chiarolanza says.
Julian Mustardo said, as he filled up his sandbags, that his house doesn’t normally flood. He says he came very close last month and he’d rather be safe than sorry.
“A couple of times in the last few years it’s come halfway up my driveway. I’d rather have them than not need them, then need them and not have them,” Mustardo says.
There’s a flood watch going into effect Tuesday night and lasts until Wednesday. It will include Essex, Bergen, Hudson, Passaic and Union counties.


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