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DEP Creating Interactive Flood Maps of HHK Brook, Saddle River

The village, however, will be sticking with their own map system.

The NJ DEP has created a series of online, interactive flood maps to help responders and residents in flood-prone areas respond to disaster.

The first map, covering a roughly three-mile stretch of the Saddle River in Lodi, was the first map produced and released to the public on Monday. Seventeen more maps are on the way and Ridgewood should be up soon, with maps being developed along the Saddle River and also the Ho-Ho-Kus Brook. The village, for now, however, seems to be sticking with the mapping system it has.

Per a news release sent by the DEP Monday, the monitoring tools of the new government maps include stream gauge information from the United States Geological Survey as well as a forecasting system from the National Weather System. All of the maps come through in real time to illustrate the expected path of the water, according to the DEP.

The flood mapping is just one of the recommendation of a 15-point plan for short term and long-term flood relief efforts along the Passaic River Basin, commissioned by Governor Chris Christie.

“These online maps, intuitive and easy for anyone to use, provide real-time information to residents about conditions during significant rainfalls and will assist local, state and federal officials in making critical decisions to protect the public in the event of flooding,” DEP Commissioner Bob Martin said in a news release. 

The village, however, won't be jumping at the chance to use the new DEP flood maps when they're rolled out in the village, according to Village Engineer Chris Rutishauser.

"The new mapping is intriguing," he said. "It's a better way for the public to understand the reach of a flood."

Rutishauser's staff for years has been utilizing the USGS gauges to monitor rising water levels at the brook and river.

The gauges, in conjunction with weather forecasts, reliably guide the village's response, he said.

Because the village is certified in the National Flood Insurance Program Community Rating System – with a rating of 7 – they'll be continuing to use the FEMA Firm Maps during storm situations. (Homeowners in the flood plain get 15 percent off their flood insurance as a result of the certification.)

The Firm maps, hanging from the walls of the Village Hall Engineering Office, display the areas within the 100-year flood plain and note the elevation point waters could rise to in such events.

For instance, if the first floor of seven homes on Vesta Court are at 91 feet in elevation and the Ho-Ho-Kus Brook flood waters in a 100-year storm are likely to hit around 94 feet, the engineers have a solid prediction for expected damage levels.

Rutishauser said the village actively works with residents to continually update their records of homes in the flood plain to help with response efforts.

As he's said in the past, unless development ceases and land is reclaimed (potentially through Blue Acres programs, where the government purchases flood-stricken properties), flooding won't go away.

The amount of rain on any given storm may not be different from decades past, but blacktopping the earth creates much more widespread impacts, Rutishauser contends.

"A rain storm today that floods us 50 years ago is a non-event," he said.

Meanwhile, work has recently begun to remove the debris and sandbars that have built up over a decade in both bodies of water.

The village is hopeful the contractor will be able to complete the project, despite not having enough funds to meet the contractor's initial projections.

Rutishauser recommended that residents with Smartphones download the free stream gauge application to be better prepared when water strikes.

You can check out the current Saddle River map in Lodi here.

Information on the governor's 15-point flood plan in the Passaic River Basin can be found here.

Have a question or news tip? Contact editor James Kleimann at James.Kleimann@patch.com, or find us on Facebook and Twitter. For news straight to your inbox every morning, sign up for our daily newsletter.

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