Fairfield Flood Damage, Documented by Wheeler

BY  |  Saturday, Sep 10, 2011 9:00am  |  COMMENTS (21)

The one-two punch of Hurricanes Irene and Lee made for flooded basements and downed trees in Montclair, but just nine miles away in Fairfield, the devastation was on another scale altogether. Baristanet friend Wheeler Antabanez, the intrepid chronicler of the Passaic, surveyed flood damage in Fairfield yesterday with resident Frank Verrone. The video is narrated by Charlie Bush of FairfieldForYou, a citizen group seeking solutions to the area’s flooding problems.


  1. POSTED BY frankgg  |  September 10, 2011 @ 10:24 am

    An EXCELLENT documentary that presents and explains solutions. I hope that Wheeler could present a look at these gates and dams that have to be re thought in order to prevent this crisis, otherwise thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of homes will have to come down, from Fairfield to Patterson to Newark. An economic ruin. Its not like Venice with acqua alta on the Grand Canal….those are masonry buildings held together with marine pilings. Here we have old wood frame and plywood structures that really cant take any more of this water damage, not to mention the electrical grid.

  2. POSTED BY Jimmytown  |  September 10, 2011 @ 10:33 am

    People who built the Meadowlands knew they were building on a swamp. People who built Willowbrook knew they were building on a swamp. People who built along the passaic knew there would be floods. This isn’t a surprise, and to rebuild is nonsense. We can dredge the Passaic, the toxins alone will condemn those homes. We have to tear these homes down and give the land back to nature. I know this sounds like a tree hugging thought, but I dont think its fair that FEMA has to replace your furniture and expensive electronics that are just going to get ruined again next August-November when the next flood happens.
    If you live next to an airport or train tracks, expect some noise. If you live in a flood plain, expect some water. I feel horrible that people lost their homes and have to be relocated like refugees and their kids can’t go to school, but you can’t say “why me?” when you live in an area prone to flooding

  3. POSTED BY Spiro T. Quayle  |  September 10, 2011 @ 10:46 am

    Well said, Jimmytown.

  4. POSTED BY DagT  |  September 10, 2011 @ 10:59 am

    Ditto Jimmytown. The hubris of humankind can be found all over New Jersey from the rivers and dams to the replenishing of the shore. I find it especially annoying that our tax dollars go to keeping in place the wealthy land owners in Sea Bright where beach access is primarily limited to those people with only a small difficult to use public access. Removing public monies from these projects will ultimately remove these people. It’s the only fair way.

  5. POSTED BY frankgg  |  September 10, 2011 @ 11:01 am

    “We have to tear these homes down and give the land back to nature.”
    Sounds like an exaggeration but unfortunately its probably the safest solution especially if the storms and volume of water increases. I cannot imagine what the costs would be to re engineer the Passaic River and then the river waters and weather evolve.
    It was a total mistake to fill in and destroy the Morris Canal because it was probably the best way to manage the overflows from the Passaic River. In fact this could be a solution, but the costs would be hyperbolic. But just the costs to buy out ten thousand flood affected homes at an average of 300k each?

  6. POSTED BY Right of Center  |  September 10, 2011 @ 11:33 am

    People have the right to make risky choices in life, including living in a flood zone, as long as they bear the consequences. Bad things happen. We should provide disaster assistance to save lives and property when possible but we can’t make-whole losses from risky choices. And the government should not subsidize flood insurance in flood prone areas.

    I don’t think as a matter of fairness you can simply cancel the flood insurance program. The program needs to be made self-funded and then, eventually, privatized completely so the taxpayer is not ultimately on the hook for damages.

  7. POSTED BY Spiro T. Quayle  |  September 10, 2011 @ 12:19 pm

    frankgg, along the Delaware River, people have been jacking old houses up and resetting the first floor above the flood line. Concrete block piers are then built beneath them and the jacks are pulled away. Utilities are reconnected. This seems like a good way to allow people to live where they want, and avoid future flood damage as well.

  8. POSTED BY frankgg  |  September 10, 2011 @ 12:47 pm

    That sounds reassuring S.P.T. Thank you.
    I wonder how they get around and what they do about not losing their cars.

  9. POSTED BY Spiro T. Quayle  |  September 10, 2011 @ 12:58 pm

    frankgg, the Delaware rises slowly, so they have at least a day to close up the house, drive to higher ground, stay with friends and family, and return when the waters subside.
    The people in the Delaware Valley track the National Weather Service’s Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service ( yes, I know, it’s a mouthful) , so as to plan properly.
    When they return home, the raised homes are fine except for ground level clean up of debris left by the river, beneath the house. The neighbors, still on the old foundations, unfortunately don’t do as well.
    The other plus of the raised homes includes great river views

  10. POSTED BY Right of Center  |  September 10, 2011 @ 2:21 pm

    The mayor is attempting some lawyerly maneuvers:


    Is baristanet going to cover this story?

  11. POSTED BY profwilliams  |  September 10, 2011 @ 3:04 pm

    Excellent video! Explains the hows and whys in terms so simple even a banned poster from an “Authentically Local” blog could understand it.

    I’ve had students from Fairfield and Pompton Lakes, and I’ve asked them why they stay there knowing they might be flooded out (again). They usually look at me strangely, and answer simply: it’s home. (Posting back here again, I certainly understand that…)

    (My time at that “other” hyper-local site was filled with reading devastating stories of loss from 9/11– they’ve featured many personal 9/11 stories. Though I did enjoy the story here about how indestructible the NJTransit monthly rail pass is…)

  12. POSTED BY walleroo  |  September 10, 2011 @ 3:46 pm

    The prof is back, properly chastened and repentant. I knew this day would arrive. I called this!

    Hallelujah! Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill made low, the crooked straight, and the rough places plain.

  13. POSTED BY Liz George  |  September 10, 2011 @ 4:05 pm

    ROC – reading that link it covers the ground we reported yesterday…

  14. POSTED BY PAZ  |  September 10, 2011 @ 4:07 pm

    Welcome back Prof….Let the semester begin!

  15. POSTED BY DagT  |  September 10, 2011 @ 4:32 pm

    Someone call cathar and tell him the prof has returned.

    I’d bet you were peeking here now and again during your banishment. So you know that you are a welcomed sight. Carry on………

  16. POSTED BY Right of Center  |  September 10, 2011 @ 4:32 pm

    Liz, I didn’t see Zurofsky’s letter printed or quoted on baristanet. Did I miss it?

  17. POSTED BY Liz George  |  September 10, 2011 @ 5:58 pm

    You are correct — we didn’t publish the Friday am letter — we just told you what it said — that the lawyer requested Durkin to put the question on the ballot or he would take the matter to Superior Court. Of course as of late yesterday — that letter is moot and I expect we’ll see something new from Zurofsky.

  18. POSTED BY frankgg  |  September 11, 2011 @ 11:37 am

    Thats interesting to hear about how the people from Delaware Valley deal with their riverflooding, S.T.Q. . My experience of living with water is from Venice and Aqua Alta. For several years, I lived high and dry across the canal from the Guggenheim Museum and when there was Acqua Alta, (high water or flooding), the city would set up wooden planks an metal bases and we would just walk on these elevated sidewalks for the few hours durring the Aqua Alta. Venice is not sinking but gets flooded because they dredged two deep cargo ship canals into the two lagoon inlets…so, more of a volume of water comes into the lagoon at high tide and more goes out at low tide (called acqua bassa …its disgusting because the water goes away for a while just leaving the murky sewage, bad odor, rats and mud). A siren would go off an hour before to let you know when the tide was rising. So you could prepare yourself. When I moved to Napoli and would return for work in Venice, I stayed in a ground floor guest room in a friend’s house, with a window on the Grand Canal. Magnificent but two feet of water would come in at acqua alta. When the siren went off, the drill was that a housekeeper would rush down to put anything that was left on the floor on top of the furniture…shoes…magazines…suitcases…then when the water left, a quick mopping up with clorox.

  19. POSTED BY cathar  |  September 11, 2011 @ 8:09 pm

    I too welcome back the good prof from exile.

    But being in “Babylon,” prof, didn’t exactly still your tongue any, based on what I read on that site whose editor was lambasted unwarrantedly by Debbie as non-local, now did it?. (And I still await her apology for that one.) If anything, prof, you seemed to post a bit more than usual.

  20. POSTED BY Nellie  |  September 11, 2011 @ 8:17 pm

    The prodigal son has returned! Welcome back, prof.

  21. POSTED BY Nellie  |  September 11, 2011 @ 8:25 pm

    Guess that should have been the prodigal prof.

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