Raging floodwaters continued to ravage parts of northern New Jersey as the nation's top emergency management officials Wednesday planned to view the damage left by Hurricane Irene.
Flooding continued to besiege Paterson, Little Falls and Montville Township even after the state's rain-swollen rivers crested and slowly receded.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Craig Fugate planned to visit flood-damaged Lincoln Park, in Morris County, late Wednesday afternoon.
The raging Passaic River crested Tuesday, bringing a new round of evacuations and more misery in places like Lodi and Paterson, where the first incident of looting was reported Wednesday.
A resident identifying herself only as Jackie told NBC New York that a pack of as many as 20 or 30 youths jumped a fence into a backyard and tried to break into the rear of several homes that occupants had been forced to flee by the rising waters of the Passaic River.
They got into one house by breaking window panes in the door, she said. In other homes, bent screens and a broken window were evidence of unsuccessful attempts to enter.
As of Wednesday morning, it was not clear what was taken from the house they entered.
Amtrak resumed Northeast Corridor service Wednesday through Trenton, where the tracks had been inundated by floodwaters, and state transportation officials said crews were able to patch and reopen a lane of northbound Interstate 287 in Morris County, where floodwaters had undermined the pavement.
NJ Transit resumed most of its commuter rail service Tuesday. Service was restored on the Northeast Corridor line from Trenton to New York's Penn Station for the Wednesday morning commute, with delays due to ongoing signal problems caused by flooding in Trenton.
On Tuesday, Gov. Chris Christie toured Wayne and said he saw "just extraordinary despair."
In Paterson, Gloria Moses gathered with neighbors at the edge of a large expanse of Passaic River floodwater now covering the streets of their neighborhood.
"Been in Paterson all my life, I'm 62 years old, and I've never seen anything like this," she said.
The town of Wallington in Bergen County is also reeling from a one-two punch from the storm.
Waters from the Passaic River flooded the borough Sunday and then started to recede, allowing residents to begin cleaning up. But the river rose again late Tuesday.
That forced a new round of evacuations and sent people scrambling to get waterlogged belongings left on their sidewalks into garbage bins so they didn't float away.
Wallington is accustomed to moderate flooding, but residents say this is the worst they have seen. The township sits atop a network of underground streams saturated by record rainfall even before Irene arrived.
Tom and Roxanne Gorski broke down and cried when they realized the river had ravaged their Anderson Avenue home.
"There are no words, she said. "It's just total devastation."
The water is now receding in places but remains blocks from what should be the riverfront.
Upstream in Lodi, Bonnie Riddick wondered who would replace the ruined furniture and appliances in her flooded apartment.
"This just stinks, in more ways than one," she said, noting the odor of sewage in the air.
More than 170,000 homes and businesses remained without electricity early Wednesday, with utilities predicting restoration by the weekend or early next week.
With cleanup efforts getting under way in earnest, Christie and state consumer officials warned residents not to be victimized by unscrupulous contractors and others seeking to take advantage of people left vulnerable in the storm's wake.
"We're very concerned about two things in the fraud area, both price-gouging and home repair scams," Christie said. He urged residents to report anything suspicious to the state Division of Consumer Affairs.
Daniel Jovic, a spokesman for Allstate New Jersey Insurance, told of one senior citizen who had been charged $6,500 by two men she hired to pump water out of her basement.