New Jersey residents urged to evacuate as Passaic River expected to reach peak level

The Passaic River is rising and is expected to hit its peak Thursday after Tuesday night’s heavy rains.

Officials are concerned that once the river crests, conditions will become even more dangerous for residents.

People who live in low lying areas are urged to self-evaluate ahead of the Passaic River reaching its peak.

Weeks after a powerful coastal storm flooded the Passaic River for days, Tuesday’s major winter storm dumped a dose of rain heavy enough to prompt those concerns about crest levels.

The Passaic’s water levels sat around 8.6 inches early Thursday morning, keeping the river in the moderate flood stage.

That storm last month flooded communities situated along the river, leading rescue crews to come to the aid of people trapped in their homes.

“It’s difficult to take everything you have and move it elsewhere,” said Julie Lynch, a resident of Wayne.

After 25 years of living on flood-prone Ryerson Road, Lynch says she may be ready to move on.

On Wednesday, Mayor Christopher Vergano suggested others look into doing the same, through a federally funded buy-out program.

“They’ve been forever, when it’s not raining and it’s not flooding they have beautiful neighborhoods,” said Vergano. “But this is two storms three weeks in a row, enough is enough.”

In the meantime, Wayne Township Public Schools will be delayed by 90 minutes on Thursday.

A mobile command center has been set up in preparation of people needing to be evacuated.

Mayor Vergano is urging people to leave now if they can.

“The water is coming up and those that were inundated three weeks ago, I would tell them to leave their houses now, all they have to do is look out their window the water is rising,” he said.

Even worse, more rain is expected Friday night into Saturday, which could lead to more headaches for residents in the area.

Officials are reminding residents that they have the resources to rescue people in need but hope they will not have to utilize them.

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