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A River Ran Through It: Flooding Cut Village in Half on Sunday

Power back in many areas; Village Hall, turf fields took significant water

The sun was out, residents were kayaking on the football fields, a river had split Ridgewood in two and citizens were walking through their slushed lawns to assess the damage of departing Hurricane Irene.

Some areas in the village escaped with minimal damage. Many West-siders had cable television, running refrigerators and dry basements by the time Irene bid farewell and hopped up the eastern seaboard.

But others laid in wait as waters rose waist high. Firemen in row boats outstretched their reaches, grabbing residents and their pets on the streets behind the brook, on East Glen Avenue and further down by the Saddle River in The Lawns.

Evacuating residents; no long-term relief for some

Rowboats were dispatched to the low-lying areas near the Saddle River and the Ho-Ho-Kus Brook. Marshall Street and Warren Place were heavily flooded, as was East Glen Ave. around the fire headquarters. Fire department and other emergency responders used dunk bucket trucks and row boats to save well over 20 families from homes near the flood waters.

Several cars were lost trying to tread through high water. Oil was flowing south on South Irving Street, Overbrook and Northern Parkway. The synogogue is under heavy water as well.

Mayor Keith Killion said late Sunday morning that the level of water was extreme but expected. Considering early reports it could have been much worse.

"We didn't get the wind we expected though the water was as we anticipated," Killion said. "What helped us a lot was the past experience with Floyd. We were prepared this time. Whatever we could stop, we stopped."

That's not to say everything went swimmingly, he said. "Of course, some things we just couldn't get to."

Pointing north from Village Hall, where he was helping tie down a damaged tree, Killion said in some respects, the damage just is what it is.

"These are areas [by the brook and Saddle River] in Ridgewood that are prone to flooding and it's just the nature of the way the town is constructed. There's really no way of helping or giving relief for that."

High flooding cutting village in two

High flood waters seemed to separate Ridgewood by noon on Sunday. Maple Ave. was the northernmost access road for much of the town and the Ho-Ho-Kus Brook rushed at incredible force south, merging at East Ridgewood Avenue. East Ridgewood Avenue was closed off at the County Duck Pond and that will likely remain until flood waters can be controlled.

Some of the same stories from dreaded Floyd reappeared on Sunday –Village Hall's lower level was entirely flooded, and the high school fields more closely resembled Lake Michigan than a turfed titan.

"There was a valiant effort to save the lower level of Village Hall but there was too much water. Just too much water. We're clearing debris on roads so there's better access to the hospital," which has been operating on generator power this morning.

Many ambulance drivers appeared confused Sunday, circling around apparently without an alternate route.

Affected houses of worship have been offered assistance by Ridgewood, and the village also managed to attend to a mutual aid call in Ho-Ho-Kus, which appeared a river on Sunday but has since receded. The county's 911 emergency line also went down, so Ridgewood was handling county 911 calls as well.

Boogie boarders and kayakers were spotted on the the turf fields, as distressed property owners nearby took pictures for insurance claims. Officials cautioned residents not to play in the water, as it contains contaminants from the overwhelmed sewage plant in Waldwick.

The Saddle River has already crested though the Ho-Ho-Kus Brook is still rising, according to officials. There's a strong chance it continues to rise for the next few days, meaning the worst of the flooding near some of Ridgewood's most important real estate remains at risk.

The storm may be gone, but the effects will remain.

"We continue to evacuate people and transport them to Bergen County Community College [in Paramus]," Deputy Mayor Tom Riche told Patch.

Village has many heroes, says mayor

Killion credited village workers with acting with utmost professionalism, placing themselves in harm's way during the highest points of the storm, which in many streets form waterfalls.

"They've done an excellent job working hours on top of hours," Killion said. "We have many heroes here from police and fire in bucket trucks and rowboats to emergency services down to the water company helping out, DPW–everyone. It's a total town effort. I can't single out a single group, it's been a great effort."

Graydon likely shut down for season; power back for many

Graydon Pool is also likely to be closed for the rest of the season, officials say.

"As far as Graydon Pool is concerned, the brook has overflowed into Graydon Pool. In order to make the pool safe, we'd have to pump it out," Killion said. "Most likely the decision will be made not to reopen Graydon because it takes a week to pump it out and by then we've lost the season."

The Ridgewood water plant is still fine, no sewage was released.

Power is back in the areas north of Linwood, Councilman Paul Aronsohn said. It had been out for much of the morning. Pockets of homes throughout the village still had no power on Monday, some the result of a substation that blew in a neighboring town. There's no timetable it will be back; it could take as much as a week.

Businesses opening up, significant work remains

Many village businesses opened their doors since the sun came out shortly after 11 a.m. Sunday. Lines were long in the CBD as villagers fled their flooded basements and couches alike.

"We're now at the point where we're ascertaining how much manpower we need to possibly send some guys home and catch up on some rest so we can start to come back and clear everything up. This isn't over," Killion said.

Village workers are expected to be pumping out basements for the next week or more.

SK August 28, 2011 at 02:45 PM
Can someone please tell me what "the CBD" is?
James Kleimann August 28, 2011 at 02:53 PM
Hey SK, Central Business District. Ridgewood's downtown.
Steve Holder August 28, 2011 at 03:01 PM
Great pictures guys.. especially of our taxpayers money soon to be wasted on yet another plastic football field repair. What a stupid idea that turned out to be. Anyone want to stand up and own that one? ......crickets
SK August 28, 2011 at 03:06 PM
Thanks!
Boyd A. Loving August 28, 2011 at 05:58 PM
Photo caption of South Irving Street road closure is actually North Irving Street near Stevens Field.
Joe August 28, 2011 at 06:20 PM
Not stupid and not a waste of $$ in my book. Annoying, yes, but the Field will be usable faster than it ever would have been if it were grass/dirt. That's worth spending a few coins. I understand you disagree. OK, we have different values. NBD. And what do you mean "stand up and own." It's no mystery who the BOE is. I think they've "owned" it.
Steve Holder August 28, 2011 at 07:07 PM
Joe who?
Lisa Ertle August 28, 2011 at 07:17 PM
We are so grateful for this report. We haven't left the house and would otherwise have no idea what's going on. James, hope you take a bit of time out to celebrate your birthday!!!
Steve Holder August 28, 2011 at 07:25 PM
Joe who?
Ron Verdicchio August 28, 2011 at 08:24 PM
Followed the Tweets this morning and Patch coverage. The Mayor's briefing was most helpful. Water is receding around n parkway, n irving, overbrook. Reporting from "Lake Colonial Road". Ron Verdicchio
James Kleimann August 28, 2011 at 09:11 PM
Thanks for your info everyone. Good to hear the water is receding. And thanks again for the birthday wishes! I will say this: Please don't venture outside. Lots of people are out and the winds are getting very heavy. My car (a Corolla) nearly shook over for a few seconds.
Chris Peters August 29, 2011 at 03:09 AM
great photos Boyd!
Joe Kelley August 29, 2011 at 06:25 PM
We're "north of Linwood" and we still have no power as of 8am this morning.
Carol Bialkowski September 02, 2011 at 12:41 AM
The next time someone suggests doing away with Ridgewood's paid fire department, I hope they remember Hurricane Irene.
Jane January 06, 2012 at 03:55 AM
I am so happy that i had my flooding problems fixed.I feel bad for so many of these people.Its no joke to get flooded like this. The price was good too ! Much cheaper than a french drain. If anybody wants their number its 845-653-1657

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