FEMA chief to tour flood-ravaged NJ

Flooding in Trenton, New Jersey on Monday, August 29th, 2011.

August 31, 2011 8:15:06 AM PDT
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.

Amtrak resumed Northeast Corridor service on 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 on Tuesday. Service was restored on the Northeast Corridor Line from Trenton to New York's Penn Station for the morning commute, with delays due to ongoing signal problems caused by flooding in Trenton.

Gov. Chris Christie on Tuesday toured Wayne and said he saw "just extraordinary despair."

As the floodwaters rose Tuesday afternoon 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.

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.

There were 171,289 homes and businesses 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.

In better news, state regulators said insurers would not be able to apply costly hurricane deductibles to policyholders whose homes had non-flood damage because winds from Irene did not reach 74 miles per hour in New Jersey.

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