Christie to Flooded NJers: Be Ready to Move

By Roseanne Colletti and Brian Thompson
|  Friday, Mar 11, 2011  |  Updated 6:24 PM EDT
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Experts explain why the same places are always hard hit by flooding.

Experts explain why the same places are always hard hit by flooding.

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Raw Video: Cars Abandoned as Floods Threaten Tri-State

Rising waters continue to threaten residents and their homes after rainfall amounting to more than three inches poured on parts of the tri-state.

Friday Night Weather Forecast

Janice Huff recaps the aftermath of yesterday's heavy rainfall and predicts much needed milder weather and sunshine through next week.
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Gov. Chris Christie toured a flooded area of New Jersey Friday as emergency officials closely monitored waterways that continued to rise long after the rain moved out.

The governor told residents in waterlogged areas to keep in touch with their local authorities and "be ready to move quickly if you need to."

State Police Sgt. Julian Castellanos said officials are evacuating approximately 1,300 homes in Pequannock and about 100 homes in Fairfield Township.

Shelters have also been opened at Pequannock High School and the Church Hill School.

No injuries have been reported, Castellanos said.

Major flooding is expected along the Passaic, Pequannock, Ramapo and Pompton rivers. The National Weather Service issued a flood warning for a number of New Jersey counties through Saturday.

Nearly 200 members of the state's National Guard are on hand to respond to emergencies.

In Pequannock, the evacuation wasn't mandatory, but one OEM official said the agency is "strongly advising" homeowners to take heed, as the river reached 5 feet over flood stage.

"This will be the second highest flood in Pequannock Township history," said Capt. Dan Dooley. 

The continued flooding caps a difficult week for homeowners who live near the rivers.

"You never get used to this," said Theresa Leszczynski, as she watched floodwaters rise in front of her Pequannock home. "You prepare for the worst and pray for the best."

Jim Farrant, another Pequannock homeowner, said his family moved all the belongings they could to the upstairs of their home.

"Thank God we have a second floor," he quipped.


New Jersey Sen. Frank Lautenberg and Rep. Bill Pascrell asked President Barack Obama to declare parts of the state a federal disaster, freeing up federal funds for clean up. 

Some areas saw substantial rainfall amounts in the storm that ended Friday, with Bergen County among the hardest hit. More than 5 inches of water soaked Franklin Lakes and Oakland, according to the National Weather Service. And Passaic County's Charlottesburg also saw more than 5 inches.

In Woodland Park, Mel Sivri spent Friday morning preparing for the rising Passaic.

"I'm waiting to see, watching the river," said Sivri, who was using a small industrial pump and long hose to clean about 4 inches of water from his garage floor.

Sivri, who had hung his daughters' pink bicycles and other items from a series of hooks fastened to the garage ceiling, said he had been monitoring news reports and weather websites to decide when the family should evacuate to a friend's house. Last year, his home flooded with 4 feet of water and made their street impassable, rendering his pump useless.

"You cannot pump the river," he said. "You just have to wait for it to go down."

The heavy rains also affected transit in New Jersey. NJ Transit warned it could not guarantee service to Willowbrook after midday Friday due to rising flood waters and urged customers parked at the station to take appropriate action.

In New York, nearly 2 inches of water fell in Central Park, and more than 3 inches in parts of Orange County.

Ducks swam across the Hutchinson River Parkway in Westchester County. And in Elmsford, just north of New York City, pedestrians waded through knee-deep water from the Saw Mill River, which expanded from 15 feet wide to 200 feet in some places.

With her bus not running, Elizabeth Ritter decided to walk the couple of miles to her job as a nurse's aide in White Plains. She forded the Saw Mill in bare feet and tried to hold her black shoes above water while hiking up a pant leg.

"It's cold, very cold. I was worried about stepping on glass. But it's pretty smooth; just concrete," she said. "I had to get to work. They need me."

In nearby Greenburgh, Jessica Dontona was home with her 7-year-old daughter, Samantha, to check on the house. They had decamped in the middle of the night for a hotel as the basement filled with water.

The flood made her think about moving.

"You know, living high on a hill is starting to look really good," she said.

The forecast looks mainly dry Saturday through Wednesday of next week.

The National Weather Service advises drivers to avoid traveling through any water on the roadways, as it may be much deeper than anticipated.

As always, check back with NBCNewYork.com for the latest weather information, including severe weather alerts, school closings, traffic concerns and current flood warnings and advisories.

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