NEW MILFORD, N.J. — Several homes were evacuated Friday after rain caused the Hackensack River to crest and flood an area of Litchfield County.
Twelve people were rescued after high waters filled the streets of New Milford. On Harvard Street, it came up to about 2 to 3 feet high.
The police chief told CBS2’s Kiran Dhillon it was a voluntary evacuation, and while the flooding was bad, many people chose to wait it out inside their homes.
First responders went door-to-door in waist-deep water and used row boats to rescue people from their partially submerged houses and vehicles near River Road.
“It’s terrible. I don’t know how they still haven’t fixed the issue,” said Leonardo Salas, who owns Stache House Barbershop. “It’s so inconvenient for everybody.”
Salas arrived to find his barbershop was barely spared, with flood waters coming inches from his front door.
“Hopefully it doesn’t, because it usually goes up and then it comes back down. Hopefully this is the worst of it right now,” he said.
Police Chief Brian Clancy said the flooding happened after the Oradell Reservoir spilled water into the Hackensack River, which then crested. Most of the flooding was contained to Columbia and Harvard streets near River Edge Avenue.
“We’re not really anticipating it to go higher. Thank God it stopped raining,” Clancy said. “But we’re not really sure yet when it’s going to go down. It all kind of depends on the Oradell Reservoir.”
The chief added many of the streets have been flooded before, and the state is in the process of buying homes in the area and knocking them down.
“Streets that get a lot of flooded, unfortunately. So a lot of these residents have been through other floods in the past,” Clancy said. “It’s kind of sad and unfortunate.”
Salas said Friday’s flooding is nowhere near as bad as it was during the remnants of Hurricane Ida, when his shop became submerged. Still, he said he feels for everyone in the flood-prone area.
“Especially the homeowners, I feel bad for them, really more than anything. At least I come and go, I don’t live here,” he said. “I can’t imagine for them.”
Andreina Acevedo has been out of her house for months after it was destroyed during Ida. Renovations had started, but on Friday she came back to check on her property and was horrified by what she found.
“We’re so devastated. This is not a way to live. To think, every time it rains, you’re afraid that you could be in danger,” Acevedo said.
A few streets over, it was a similar story for Tamika Benitez.
“I just started renovations at my home three weeks ago, so I’m still in the early stages. Now it’s flooded again, so now I have to redo everything,” Benitez said.
And at the Kim home nearby, the family spent much of the morning using a sump pump to salvage the basement.
“Luckily, we moved a lot of stuff, but we lost lots of boards. Everything in the shed is all destroyed,” Hyeyun Kim said.
The police chief said homeowners who have chosen to stay inside their houses are not in danger. Meanwhile, he said he expects the water to recede sometime later Friday.
On Thursday night, the Passaic River also overflowed and flooded nearby streets.
CBS2 spoke with a restaurant owner who said there was 2 feet of water outside his business.
“We still have a lot in there, can’t leave really,” he said. “We got one area they can walk through, if they want to go through 2 feet of water.”
Ramapo Police also posted a photo of a car stuck in flood waters at South Pascack and Grotke roads.
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