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Updated: River Reaches Flood Stage Again in New Milford

High tide this morning brought the river over six feet

Updated at 12:33 p.m.

Borough residents in low-lying areas were hit once again with flood waters on Wednesday as they continued to clean up after Hurricane Irene. The Hackensack River at New Milford measured 6.51 feet at 10:15 a.m., according to the US Geological Survey, which is above the flood stage. 

One resident of Columbia Street said his street was dry when he went to bed but when he woke up, it was a different story.

"I was up around 6:30 this morning and there was water all in the street," he said. "It's flooding all of the garbage on the curbs and the trash is floating and blocking the storm drains."

Numerous residents on Columbia Street complained about the amount of garbage that had not been collected more than a week after Irene had passed through the borough. On Wednesday, garbage trucks were seen on the northern end of Columbia in the morning and residents on the southern end reported trucks in their area by early afternoon.

"We have been in constant communication with the waste management company," said Borough Administrator Christine Demiris in an e-mail. "First, immediately following the hurricane to put a plan in place and every day since trying to determine why what had been arranged and agreed upon has not come to fruition and what can and will be done to turn it around."

Demiris said a representative from Waste Management told the borough "they had absolutely no idea of the magnitude of what they would be dealing with statewide."

Waste Management told Demiris that they have had to petition the state to allow their drivers to log more than the 60 hours per week they are normally restricted to working by law.

"Local representatives have assured me that while the residents of Columbia Street claim they have not been on their street, they have been there and continue to go there but that they have filled entire garbage trucks with one house’s debris and that upon return to area everything that has been cleared has been replaced with more," said Demiris.

Demiris said additional measures had been put into place today by the borough and she anticipated seeing a "marked improvement" Wednesday with normal levels anticipated by Friday.

In addition to garbage issues, several streets were closed around the borough as the rising river caused localized flooding throughout the morning.

  • Lenox and Washington Avenues once again had barricades blocking access on Fulton and Cleveland Streets as the Hirschfeld Brook rose and spilled over its banks. Pine Avenue also experienced flooding at its dead end. 
  • Main Street is closed from Madison Avenue to River Road. Madison Avenue is open, however, and residents were using it to access New Milford Avenue which remained open. 
  • The river was high along Steuben Avenue but had not crossed over on to the road by mid-morning. 
  • Drivers were cautiously navigating large pools of water spilling off Columbia Street onto River Edge Avenue. Columbia was barricaded as the dead end flooded once again by heavy rains throughout the day Tuesday into Wednesday. The southern end of Harvard Street was also impacted by flooding. 

Many residents of Columbia and Harvard Streets had moved their cars to higher ground, parking on Zabriskie Street at the top of the hill. 

The New Milford High School fields were beaten up once again with water reaching nearly to Madison Avenue. NMHS buildings and grounds staff have moved equipment and other items to higher ground prior to the water rising.

Story will continued to be updated. Check back later today.

Austin Ashley September 07, 2011 at 05:54 PM
Why didn't the Borough bring in dumpsters?
Roy W. September 08, 2011 at 12:43 PM
and the town wants to change the zoning to allow more building along the Hackensack on River Road...

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