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Flood Waters Hit Westwood Thursday

The water rose rapidly in the borough after heavy rains, causing evacuations

Westwood residents evacuated their homes Thursday after heavy rains caused the Pascack Brook to rise. The flooding also closed a significant portion of Broadway. The is currently open for any residents who were forced from their homes.

A crane and boats were used to take residents from their homes on Nugent Place and Harding Avenue as water was rising and entering homes there and along Steuben Avenue.

Nugent Place resident Robert Ouellette, who was taken by crane from his house with his two children and two dogs, said he received warnings around 1 and 2 p.m. that the flood gate was coming down.

"The first one didn't seem to cause the water to rise much at all, but after the second one the water just literally came rushing through my backyard like a river," he said. "In the space of 15 minutes I went from no water to water basically completely blocking off the neighborhood."

Ouellette said this is the third flood he's experienced this year.

According to Borough Administrator Robert Hoffman, borough officials received a notification about significant flooding in Rockland County around 2:30 p.m. He said he was in touch with United Water and when he checked the gauge in Park Ridge, the water was crossing at 2,000 cubic feet per second. Hoffmann said the water typically crosses between 100 and 400 cubic feet per second.

Office of Emergency Management Coordinator Darren Blankenbush said the water came both from the local rainfall and from the north.

"We got a significant rain event with a greater rain event north of here, Rockland County and north," he said. "What we're running into is problems with runoff from the north."

Members of the were staged along Lafayette Avenue and helped evacuate residents who wanted to leave but couldn't get out themselves. Blankenbush also said they were checking and securing utilities.

"It came up really quickly," Blankenbush said. "We're doing what we can."

Broadway was also flooded Thursday afternoon near Westwood Plaza. The road was closed off at Irvington Street through to Hillsdale, which also experienced flooding. Water rose into the Westwood Plaza parking lot and affected businesses across the street along Broadway.

Hoffmann said water was also rising by .

Gary Conkling June 24, 2011 at 11:25 AM
With at least three major flooding events this year let's see who the Mayor and council can blame? Water Company, NY, Mother Nature, etc. Maybe they should have been desilting desnagging every year?
Roberta Hanlon June 24, 2011 at 11:39 AM
De-silting and de-snagging can do only so much. We had one of the wettest winters in years which created the initial flooding as the ground could not absorb it so fast. Even upstate by my son in Plattsburgh NY they had such flooding due to this. Then we follow it up with heavy rains that flooded others upstream. Rockland County got hit first and we knew it was going to flow this way after that. It is the speed of which the water came that got people off guard. We also have to remember that some of these areas flooding out like KMart and King's were lakes long time ago, water will be return to where it naturally will. Remember we are the HUB of the Pascack Valley. The de-silting/dredging over in others parts of town did hold the water back. Dredging might be the correct answer. We need to give the water more room to spread. The other types of work only scratches the surface and will not last for long.
Steve Macioci June 24, 2011 at 12:29 PM
3 times in 3 months. !! This is unheard of and an outrage.. Nothing will be done other then a "FLuF" conference with the water commision to calm the people. Noone cares that local business are losing money daily fromthe damage. Time andhour spent cleaning to get up and runng to just get demoilished again. Where is the help for them. NOTHING . Nothing will be done till someone gets hurt then all of a sudden a solition will be found in 5 minutes.. NO MORE FLOODS!! THE PEOPLE HAVE HAD ENOUGH!! THERE IS ALWAYS A SOLUTION
Steve Macioci June 24, 2011 at 12:37 PM
Also Funny how the town got notice at 2:30 pm... Broadways buisness didnt get notice till about 5pm on our "call back" By 5 pm we had over 2 feet of water.. the pictures taken here dont even do justice to the damage. the water was over 3 feet high at some points.
Tina June 24, 2011 at 12:58 PM
"call back" ....do you mean the message I recieved after the business was under water that stated..."this is a warning... high potential for flooding." Nice warning guys.. And the broadcasted alarm that the cops were shouting throughout town...."evacuate etc etc....if you need assistance call.......PLEASE.....what assistance?
Dan O'Banks June 24, 2011 at 01:25 PM
Now that there have been three significant flood events (and this one was much worse than the others) the town and United Water need to stop talking about what "could" be done or why it was a freak occurrence. It is obvious that something has changed and they BOTH need to take action. The impact to the community is huge and it is going to last for years. You will soon see businesses leave or fail due to the costs associated with these floods. The Broadway storefronts will remain empty for years. I can only imagine what the homeowners are going through. You want to move because of the flooding, yet you can't sell your house. Your property values have dropped beyond what your mortgage is. Even with flood insurance, the rebuilding and replacing is tiring. How much longer can they keep it up? Take Action Westwood and Hillsdale! The Future of Our Communities Depends On It!
Lisa Bontemps June 24, 2011 at 01:44 PM
It's so sad to see one of these homes is up for sale and knowing that none of the residents in this neighborhood will be able to sell their homes until this flooding issue is resolved once and for all. My heart and prayers go out to you all.
Taylor June 24, 2011 at 01:44 PM
I think there is something to be said about the immediate actions or lackthereof in this situation. These businesses received their "warning calls" once they were under water. Should you instead just call them to clarify, "Your business is likely flooded at this point, good luck with clean up." Believe it or not, the 2:30 warning could have made a significant difference in some cases. It could have allowed some to get in before the waters rose and at least salvage or get out a decent amount of what they had stationed in their buisnesses. Keep in mind, these small businesses, they are the livelihood of your town. They keep you running, they keep your residents present. If broadway were to be lined with vacant storefronts, moreso than it already is, imagine the face value of your town. Council members, planners, whomever, needs to keep in mind, your town is nothing without residents and business, they are your primary concern. I honestly, don't see the concern in cases like this, you are quite literally, letting them go under.
Heather H June 24, 2011 at 02:34 PM
It is an absolute outrage that it has become a norm to dump the water onto small businesses and houses. The lack of preventing the floodwaters from being diverted to populated areas is pathetic. It is each and every borough’s fault for allowing these disasters to occur in their town. And to add insult to injury there is an even greater lack of properly warning those in the path of destruction.
Hilda V. June 24, 2011 at 02:36 PM
Isn't fact checking, writing 101? I certainly recall it was Ms. Sartor. How is it possible to publish auch an inaccurate story? The reality is drowned along with the false pretense that local businesses were notified prior to the rain event. Local businesses were not advised of this third occurrence in 3 months. How could a community forget the devastion and impact of flash flooding this Spring? What's even more hurtful is the media, such as yourself, that presents the reality thru stained window where no clarity runs through.
Roberta Hanlon June 24, 2011 at 02:42 PM
Absolutely businesses as well as homeowners should be equally called in the flood prone areas. This is something that can be fixed and fixed immediately. The areas that are flood prone need to be alerted even if that particular area does not get the water it is better to be warned.
Debbie June 24, 2011 at 02:44 PM
This article doesn't seem to show the unbelievable shock and incredibility of the flooding happening again. Three times is not just annoying but disastrous to these businesses on Broadway that are still trying to mend damage from the last flood! Not to mention the homes that are flooded as well. Something has to be done about this.
Tom D June 24, 2011 at 03:05 PM
I have lived over 30 years, in two separate houses, in the area immediately surrounding where many of these pictures were taken. Flooding has always been an inconvenience but something I could usually move on and recover from. However with the events of this year I have reached my breaking point... 3 floods in this short of a time span has put an incredible burden on myself and my family. This last flood in particular has wreaked absolute havoc. While the financial toll in this sort of situation is always great, it does not begin to compare to the emotional toll this has created for myself, my family, and everyone in the area. I have already begun the process of searching for a new home and I can only hope there is an ex-boat captain who would be willing to buy my house and enjoy the comforts of the sea for half the year. And yes, many of these areas were lakes many years ago... but that is no excuse for them to be treated as though they still are. Mexico City was also built on a lake, but thanks to properly built and managed dikes, levees, and canals they did not have to deal with the incredible burden of constant flood waters.
James Robert Maloney June 24, 2011 at 03:16 PM
http://www.northjersey.com/news/121302054_Lowering_of_lake_sought.html They know there is a solution and yet they still drag their feet . If the town of westwood was consumed by fire 3 times in 3 months a solution would have been found Westwood act now . Enough is enough
Anonynonymous June 24, 2011 at 06:05 PM
Less talk about what the town is going to do when it floods, and MORE ACTION! GET INTO IT!!!!!!
Brad June 24, 2011 at 06:54 PM
Ignore the problem, and hopefully it will go away. That seems to be a common theme lately. It didn't work out so well for New Orleans. There are many other examples of it not working out either, nationally and locally, but the obvious one is the repeated flooding in our local towns right here near Westwood. One would hope the constituents of Westwood and other towns were valued members of the homeowner and business community. Perhaps not? Is the The Office of Emergency Management so inept that they can't proactively try to prevent EXPECTED events from happening? There are many proactive steps that could be taken. It's already been mentioned that the flood warning was comically late. Fix that emergency notice system first. Other fixes could also contribute to lowering the risk of floods along the Pascack river. It could be dredged out, the sharp corners along the river could be straightened out, additional flood meadows could be found for overflow, and any other obstacles that slow down the river flow could be optimized, LOWER THE RESEVOIR, and even levees could be built for the low lying areas prone to flooding. Perhaps there is not one all encompassing fix, but many little things put together could certainly lessen the huge impact these floods are currently having. Perhaps it is time for people to convey how upset they are with this issue the next time they vote. Get the lazy out of office, and vote in the doers.
Timothy Regan June 24, 2011 at 09:45 PM
Hello my name is Tim Regan . I am a union electricain, I have two genterators that are not being used right now, If you have children or elder people and home as no power call me i will bring one over so you can have light and some power tonight. 201-774-1370
Stef Sedenyo June 24, 2011 at 10:31 PM
Yesterday as I stood in a foot of water, I see this woman run by me splashing through the water desperately heading towards the deepest part of the flood where her business was also located. She seemed terribly upset, anxious to salvage anything she could from her business which produces revenue for the provision of her family. I realized that her teenage son stood a few feet away from me in a worried state because he didn't want his mother to be harmed in the process. "I told her to stay but she wouldn't listen to me, she needed to go see what could be rescued.", he stated as we witnessed the fire department assisting her and others. Who will provide this mother, a small business owner with the financial assistance to recuperate her losses? Who will take responsibility and begin the engineer work to ensure that this does not happen again? When will the political bs end? This is the livelihood of a neighborhood we speak of. People of Westwood, Hillsdale, and surrounding affected areas, do not stay silent. These questions need answers NOW!
LivinLocal June 25, 2011 at 02:24 AM
It’s unfortunate that Westwood’s governing body is disconnected. I was told a Councilman riding around on a bike said that a dam broke upstate and that’s why we were flooding. Obviously he knew less then we do. He apparently doesn’t live in a flood zone otherwise he’d feel the frustration and not try to appease victims with dribble. Mayor Birkner recently said in the Record he didn’t think de-silting would be any help. As the water swirls around and backs up at each clog it dominos back onto the surrounding properties. De-silting can’t hurt. The flooding has been worst in recent years but no one cares. We spend millions on a fancy sports complex while other town needs go unattended. My taxes go up and my property value goes down and we see photo ops for the politicians to say something needs to be done. And then we start all over again with the next flood.
Westwoodian since '91 June 25, 2011 at 04:09 PM
Unfortunately the pictures only tells part of the story. The smell in our house in unbelievable - the whole neighborhood smells of rot, dirty water and despair. Insurance can't make up the emotional toll this takes on our family, the neighborhood and Westwood in general. We're all tired, cranky and exhausted. After 3 floods in less than 6 months, it's not that surprising.
unknown June 27, 2011 at 02:54 AM
All of these comments are making me really angry. Ignoring the problem obviously isn’t the answer. Thanks to the Westwood and Hillsdale fire departments, along with the many fast teams helping them out, many families were helped out of their houses and taken to "higher" grounds safely. Maybe if you were one of the people helping, and I can only imagine the measures they took, you'd understand how much they risked to actually help you. OEM is the exact opposite of "inept." THEY were the ones helping you. THEY were the ones who got not even 15 minutes warning of the roaring and rushing waters. OEM did ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING they possibly could have done. This event was certainly NOT expected. The warning calls went right out to you when OEM was notified. You live in a flood zone. Floods are things you need to take into consideration. If you don’t like it, move. Just like Tornado Ally. They expect tornados. You live in a flood zone. Floods are expected.
Tina June 27, 2011 at 12:28 PM
Let me guess "unknown"...being that you refer to us flooders as "you" I assume you didn't flood and have no idea how it feels correct? Or do you work for the town? Either way....it’s tough to make light of a situation that has happened now 3 times in a VERY short period of time. Yes we are aware we are in a flood area....but being flooded three times in a few months...completely unacceptable regardless of what you think happened or the efforts of the Westwood and Hillsdale. And being that you were not one of us unfortunate people who had to suffer yet another flood....did you make a mockery of the flood while it was happening also??? It seemed to be the consensus of the people who do not deal with this problem. So now in lieu of your comment needless to say…your comment made me angry…
Katie June 27, 2011 at 01:50 PM
Three times in three months is outrageous! Property values dropped after the first flood, what will they be now after three in three months? Local business owners have enough of a struggle dealing with an economy in a recession. Do they really need this aggravation! The local fire departments, police departments and public works departments have been beyond helpful. But, can we all stop and wonder how much property taxes will rise for each cleanup effort? Rockland County and upstate New York has been developed for years. What's the change? Looking at these past three flood events, each one was different. The water came up in different ways. During this past flood, to the best of my knowledge, residents in New Milford were not flooded and thank goodness as those folks have been flooded enough. But, it begs the question, was there better control at the Oradell resevoir? In the past if Westwood/Hillsdale was flooded so was New Milford. These are all questions that residents deserve answers to NOW! Before local municipalities raise property taxes to deal with these issues. Its sad to see the residents of these communities deal with the physical and emotional tolls of this issue. Something has changed in the past three months. Residents and local business owners deserve a proactive solution. Elected officials from Bergen, Rockland surrounding need to come together with United Water ASAP.
Westwoodian since '91 June 27, 2011 at 09:18 PM
I happened to be on the corner of Stuben and McKinley as people were being pulled from their homes. I'm sure that Westwood and Hillsdale fire departments were there, but let's not forget the River Vale was there too. I'm sure OEM worked very hard to alert families and businesses, however, your comment about about moving was very insensitive. When I moved here I was told it was a 100 year flood area - not 3 times since March.
Brando October 29, 2012 at 03:10 PM
They bought in a known flood plain, duh..... And anyone coming in would have the same knowledge. I still dont get why people in a flood plain are complaining about flooding. Its like complaining to budweiser that drinking 12 of their beers made you drunk.

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