Life on the Flooded River

After almost a week of flooding, the Passaic River crested at 11.8 feet in Little Falls yesterday, marking the fifth highest recorded level since the early 20th Century. According to, the river’s high point — 4 feet 8 inches above the 7-foot flood stage – was surpassed only by floods in 1903, 1984, 2007 and March 2010.

While the water has begun to recede, schools are closed today and residents and businesses won’t be able to return to normal life for another day or so.

Over the weekend, the First Response Team of America joined Fairfield firefighters in their efforts to evacuate and assist the community. The roving non-profit rescue workers used their hovercraft to move around the area. Watch video footage here.

“We’re going from house to house to make sure everyone evacuates. There’s not much time till the river crests. If there are any fires or medical emergencies the ambulances and fire trucks will not be able to get through the deep water so now is the time to get out,” the team posted on their Facebook page on Friday evening.

I had my own adventure — albeit a gentle one — as I ventured to visit my mother in Pompton Plains on Saturday. While I tried to outsmart the traffic, there was no easy way to cross the flood zone. What is normally a 1/2 hour one-way ride became a 3 hour round trip. Detoured through areas of Wayne, Patterson and West Patterson that I had never seen before, I came right up to one of the Passaic’s tributaries and shot the video below. If you need to get to that part of the area, take 280 to 80 to 287, but don’t be surprised if you find yourself somewhere other than where you intended to be. It was a good way to get to know the back roads of these neighboring towns and I allowed myself to hear the call of the river sirens, who beckoned me to stop and watch the river flow.

Flood photos courtesy of Jbota.

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  1. As my son used to sing when he was three: “Row, row, row your boat – gently down the street…” (yes, the same kid who sang “Don’t cry for me, Marge and Tina” and “Knock Knock Knocking on Kevin’s Door”..) Bottom line: Don’t mess with Mother Nature and don’t mess with Beattie’s Dam – damn!

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