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Business Owners Discuss Flooding Problems

Politicians begin and dialogue with volunteers and business owners to determine how best to handle flooding and other disasters when they occur. Businesses in the Mountain View section of town remain closed nearly a year after Tropical Storm Irene caused

A few business owners met Wednesday to start a dialogue and see what they can do to help each other the next time disaster strikes.

and a newly-formed sponsored the event.

A few business owners form the Mountain View section of town attended the gathering. The area is often one of the first in town to flood. Several businesses were closed for months after Tropical Storm Irene hit last August. Some haven't . .

“It was a mess and it still is a mess,” said Ron Katoni, president of Advance Medical Supply on Legion Place. “The business owners I’m talking to all say that the flooding is too much of a disruption. This should be a thriving business community.”

Assemblyman Scott Rumana attended the meeting. He said that a permanent solution must be found before flooding begins to cripple the local economy.

Several homes in town are being bought out and demolished. But Rumana said that is not enough. He said constructing a flood tunnel and moving the water out to Newark Bay is a viable solution that state and federal officials should seriously consider backing.

“If we lose these businesses, we lose our jobs, we lose our economy and we can’t allow that to happen,” Rumana said.

Others agreed.

Therese Farid, a local team leader for Project Recover encouraged those in attendance to talk to each other on a regular basis. She stressed the importance of working together.

Project Recover is a minister of Catholic Charities. The organization helps disaster victims recover from situations more quickly than they could on their own.

For more information about Wayne VOAD, visit its Web site. For more information about VOAD, how it is helping residents and local businesses, or to receive aid call Alyssa Cimino, VOAD’s liaison to the business community, at 973-986-0412 or e-mail her at Alyssa.a.cimino@gmail.com.

— Have a question or news tip? Contact editor Daniel Hubbard at Daniel.Hubbard@patch.com or find us on Facebook and Twitter. For news straight to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

Sandy Fantau July 26, 2012 at 05:41 PM
That may have been my fault. I think I said you where on vacation. If you where here I'm sorry for telling them you where away. Sorry for that
stewart resmer July 26, 2012 at 05:44 PM
my point exactly sandy why indeed were these allowed, so now that we are saddled with them whatt to do? In the california example I post with the states 16 b defecit, the gov is forging ahead with his proposal to build 2 tunnels to move water, here we see there is no such bold leadership, how then are we to anticipate local flood remediation? I am so serious about analysis paralysis, and the townships squandered FEMA money on non permanent capital projects.
Sandy Fantau July 26, 2012 at 06:13 PM
Stewart I think the problem is bigger than we can both imagine. We are talking about several differnts towns being effected. Pompton Lakes, Wayne, Pequannock, Riverdale, Lincoln Park, Little Falls, Fairfield, Caldwell, Paterson and Woodland Park. There is also 3 different counties involved. Passaic, Morris, and Essex. So I do agree that maybe Wayne could do more for the effected flood areas, but with so many different towns and counties involved there needs to be better communication and cooperation between all the effected towns. Until this is done, the problem will remain, because this is a regional problem that needs to be addressed. It is just not Wayne's problem.
Joe videodummy July 26, 2012 at 06:24 PM
Sandy, Where I disagree started many years ago- not 2 or 3. Long time residents have always been against "new business and new homes " in the flood zone. Our town government has been proposing a flood tunnel since 1966. Although it sounds nice, we're no closer to eliminating the problem than we were the day Willowbrook opened. It goes back before flood insurance, Fema, and any revisions to our towns Master Plan. But still to this day, newcomer's come to our planning board seeking EPA waiver's, and reasons why they should be allowed to impede our sensitive wetlands. It's not like I want to see more businesses leave, but there comes a time when we have to realize the facts about demographics and to stop denying it to get people to invest in more losing propositions regarding businesses and homeownership. Research how many homes and businesses will be directly affected by the installation of a flood tunnel into comparasion of how many are being affected without one and you'll find it's no surprise why the tunnel hasn't been installed. It's time stamp the master plan, drop the mandatory flood insurance clause, deny new building permits in the flood zone, and foreclose on properties as they become inhabital. The flood channel is 21 miles long, and we continue to put up buidings right in the middle of it. The towns continue to allow it, so it's evident they can't stop it, or don't want to ! Why ? because flood victims are revenue.
stewart resmer July 26, 2012 at 06:28 PM
Joe? dont sugar coat it buddy! lol
Rob Burke July 26, 2012 at 06:41 PM
No worries, Sandy. They know how to reach me - they could've even said something to Artan when he handed them eggs...
Rob Burke July 26, 2012 at 06:42 PM
I don't understand all the focus on flooding with no mention of CLOSING THE FLOODGATES to at least return us to the status quo ante from when those monstrosities were installed. Its really easy, TURN THEM OFF. Then, do a study.
stewart resmer July 26, 2012 at 06:56 PM
rob, at the FDU symposium the issue of the gates operation was brought up with the Army Corps of Engineers spokesperson saying that the gates are owned by a water company and water is their asset, trade and stock who are free to open or close the gates of their product at will. as an attorney may I ask of you would this be a tort when one has reason to suspect releasing copious amounts of water will do damage down stream? as an side what of packanack lake if the water level breached the lower wall?
Chris Schillander July 26, 2012 at 06:56 PM
heres my 2 cents. Add up all the FEMA money that has been poured into homes and business in the flood zone over the last 30 years. Now divide that by the number of homes and businesses affected. What you will get is a staggering amount of $ outlayed per property. Money that certainly could have been used to buy those properties out, and the business owners and residents could have been relocated. Example: 1 house in Pompton Lakes has been rebuilt 5 times in 20 years, at a cost of $200k EACH time. So, for $1,000,000, this home, with a value of maybe 150k at this point, has been rebuilt. Now, not every home is going to cost this much, but the retail/commercial spaces could cost this much or more. Even at a payout of $100k per property, multiply 100k times the amount of homes in the 21 mile flood basin. It is a staggering amount of money spent over time, that comes out of our pockets. Even if you lower that amount by half, to 50k, its still a LOT. These buyouts are great for the residents, but they amount to closing the barn doors after the horses have escaped.
Chris Schillander July 26, 2012 at 06:58 PM
Burke, the flood gates wont be closed, because oakland wants to sell/develop the old lake property. im sure you already know the conflict there, you are a smart guy.
stewart resmer July 26, 2012 at 07:10 PM
good one chris thnx!
Chris Schillander July 26, 2012 at 07:13 PM
Stew, we may disagree on other things, but i think everyone can agree that on matters of common sense, politicians fail...spectacularly...
Rob Burke July 26, 2012 at 07:13 PM
Asm. Rumana is a smart and powerful legislator. Wayne is his home town. If he wanted to get those floodgates closed, he could do it. Schillander, will you join me here, publicly, in asking him to make that a near term priority?
Chris Schillander July 26, 2012 at 07:17 PM
Absolutely, Rob. Here I stand side-by-side with you. Scott Rumana and anyone else who has a say in the matter should have the gates turned off, and do a study.
Chris Schillander July 26, 2012 at 07:20 PM
the $$ that is spent unwisely around here is staggering. they could use some of the "handicap curbs to nowhere" money to fund a study.
Rob Burke July 26, 2012 at 07:34 PM
Excellent, Chris. Common ground despite our differences on other issues is always good. Will anyone else join in asking Asm. Rumana to get these gates closed? Sandy? Stewart? Joe? Paul? Nose? This is one simple, easy to understand thing that will make an immediate, positive difference. Asm. Rumana is a powerful man and he has Governor Christie's ear. He can make this happen if he wants to. Anyone else want to join in this request?
stewart resmer July 26, 2012 at 07:39 PM
oh rob and chris it is so good to see your enthusiasm, but really? if mr rumana and his cohorts didnt think of 'it', and be able to present the idea with out taking credit for 'it' do you really think they will give a rip less?
Chris Schillander July 26, 2012 at 07:56 PM
sorry...my idealism shows through once in a while..
Joe videodummy July 26, 2012 at 09:36 PM
...and Rob The idea of the flood gate was conceived during a time when the Wanaque Reservoir was at it's lowest level in over 35 years. At that time, the mindset of those that were planning and designing the gate had more to do with politic's than it had to do with limiting the amount of water that flowed over the falls during it's 'peak'. Most residents were against the floodgate, and no one was applauding it last September when they were planning on it working. At most, on lookers were standing at the banks of the river to see if it would work the way it was explained before construction first began. Those living on higher ground and away from the river hardly paid any attention to the gate because it wasn't going to affect them or their property either way. Now, the battle over the success or it's failure will continue for the next 40 years. The battle over a tunnel vs. no tunnel will also continue for another 40 years. Residents living in flood prone areas don't have 40 years, they need answer's that will assist them in making a decision to "battle" or retreat to higher ground now- before the next flood. Fighting to close the floodgate is misleading many people into believing it's another battle worth fighting for. Supplying the victims with cleaning products, supermarket gift cards, and latex gloves isn't solving anything either. But allowing Scott Rumana to continue telling them everything is going to be alright is worse than the flood.
Sandy Fantau July 26, 2012 at 10:13 PM
That would make way to much sense. Leave the water in the Ramapo river above the dam. Let it come over the dam naturally, let those up stream get flood and those downstream get flood during a major rain event. However if I'm not mistaken it took an act of congress to put the floodgates in. They where supposed to be put in with the tunnel project. Why the Army Corp would allow that to happen, and then hide behind their statement that the floodgates are operating the way they should is beyond my ability to reason. You are right when you say they should be shut down until there is a solution to the problem that was created by man. However, Bergan county is doing everything in there power to make sure that does not happen. I just hope the towns down stream are fighting harder to get this problem solved. 300 homes upstream from the dam now being protected at the expense of all people who live in the lower Passaic Valley. Maybe Wayne can afford to get the flood properties off the tax maps. However, what about towns like Pompton Lakes where they are dealing with part of the town getting flooded and a nother part of town located by acid brook, which dumps it water into Pompton Lakes, then it travels all the way to Newark Bay. That still leaves Wayne with the problem of every major road in and out of town is closed due to flooding. What about Pequannock? Can they afford to lose all their commercial properties along 23. Not to mention the village section of town.
stewart resmer July 26, 2012 at 10:37 PM
Large storm front moving in, any one gotten a reverse 911?
Sandy Fantau July 26, 2012 at 11:12 PM
Joe not sure if I'm interpreting this information correctly. In 1984 the Wanaque river @ Wanaque read 10.82 ft on 4/5 In 2011 the Wanaque River @ Wanaque read 7.88 ft on 8/29. It was 2.94 ft lower. Pequannock River @ Macopin read 8.90 ft on 5/4/1984 Pequannock River @ Macopin read 7.76 ft on 8/29/2011. It was 1.14 feet lower Ramapo River @ Pompton Lakes (below Dam) read 21.60 ft on 5/4/1984 Ramapo River @ Pompton Lakes (below Dam) read 22.62 ft on 8/29/2011. It was 1.02 feet higher. Pompton River @ Pompton Plains 24.47 ft 5/4/1984 Pompton River @ Pompton Plains 25.24 ft 8/29/2011. It was .77 feet higher Ramapo River @ Pompton Lakes Dam (above) 15.33 ft 5/4/1984 The highest reading was on 4/3/2005. It was 15.60 ft. During hurrican Irene the gauge never hit a historical crest, because action stage for the floodgates is 11.5 ft. If I'm interpreting this right, what will happen when both the Wanaque River and the Pequannock River also go above their historical crests. I personal feel we ain't seen nothing yet and the flood zone will again get bigger going into the Sheffield area. I do hope I'm wrong.
Sandy Fantau July 26, 2012 at 11:27 PM
No. Don't think their will be that much rain THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN UPTON NY HAS ISSUED A * SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING FOR... FAIRFIELD COUNTY IN SOUTHERN CONNECTICUT... PASSAIC COUNTY IN NORTHEAST NEW JERSEY... WESTCHESTER COUNTY IN SOUTHEAST NEW YORK... BERGEN COUNTY IN NORTHEAST NEW JERSEY... ESSEX COUNTY IN NORTHEAST NEW JERSEY... ROCKLAND COUNTY IN SOUTHEAST NEW YORK... PUTNAM COUNTY IN SOUTHEAST NEW YORK... * UNTIL 845 PM EDT... * AT 711 PM EDT...TRAINED WEATHER SPOTTERS REPORTED A LINE OF SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS CAPABLE OF PRODUCING DAMAGING WINDS IN EXCESS OF 60 MPH. THESE STORMS WERE LOCATED ALONG A LINE EXTENDING FROM 7 MILES EAST OF LAKE CARMEL TO BEDFORD TO FAIRFIELD...OR ALONG A LINE EXTENDING FROM PAWLING TO 8 MILES EAST OF MOUNT KISCO TO LINCOLN PARK...AND MOVING EAST AT 45 MPH. PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS... THESE ARE DANGEROUS STORMS. IF YOU ARE IN THEIR PATH...PREPARE IMMEDIATELY FOR DAMAGING WINDS AND DEADLY CLOUD TO GROUND LIGHTNING. PEOPLE OUTSIDE SHOULD MOVE TO A SHELTER...PREFERABLY INSIDE A STRONG BUILDING BUT AWAY FROM WINDOWS. REMEMBER...IF YOU CAN HEAR THUNDER...YOU ARE CLOSE ENOUGH TO BE STRUCK BY LIGHTNING. DAMAGING WINDS UP TO 60 MPH WERE REPORTED AT THE TAPPAN ZEE BRIDGE WITH THESE STORMS. THESE ARE DANGEROUS STORMS...SEEK SAFE SHELTER AND STAY AWAY FROM WINDOWS!
Rob Burke July 26, 2012 at 11:48 PM
What you were told doesn't really respond to the issue facing the community. As to your question, I'm not sure what the tort would be -- there needs to be a duty owed by the owner/operator of the gates to those who were damaged, and then the duty needs to have been breached through negligence. Seems like a tough road to hoe for a plaintiff. Even assuming there is a duty, how do you prove that the owner/operator behaved unreasonably under the circumstances? Surely they have plenty of data to justify their decision making. That said, I'd bet there's a lot more information that we don't know that would affect any litigation analyses. Just exactly how to acquire that information in a way that allows it to be introduced into evidence in a courtroom remains to be seen. For instance, what if the whole floodgate installation was done with the intention of protecting upstream and the knowledge that downstream would be adversely impacted? And what of money and favors were exchanged to get the whole project done? That sort of thing would certainly change the analysis. But I don't have any such information and I haven't heard anyone else claim to have such information.
Joe videodummy July 27, 2012 at 02:30 AM
Sandy, I can't remember who posted that when the flood gate was opened they saw the released water rushing over the water that was flowing down the river. Other comments agreed, stating that it contributed to the 'sudden surge' and the impact caused severe damage that otherwise could have been avoided if the gate remained closed. This, to some extent, confirms your report regarding the 1984 flood table. Investigations concluded juveniles opened the flood valves which led to the same effects the eye witness stated this past year. The 84 flood should have been the awakening, but it was over-shadowed by the juvenile incident. Instead of looking at that flood and saying "look, this is what can happen", the public view was all about convictions and prosecution rather than the severe impact the sudden surge of water caused. The 100 year flood is unthinkable. That's why I encourage residents not to believe the nonsense about support etc., and start making conscience decisions about not being in it's way.
Chris Schillander July 27, 2012 at 04:33 AM
i saw the floodgates opened last year...the water was coming out so fast and hard, hitting the bridge with such force that the water was being forced upstream...ive never seen where a river is flowing in one direction down the center, but in the opposite direction on the banks...yet, upstream in oakland, there was no water spilling over the banks in the notoriously bad floodzone there...
Sandy Fantau July 27, 2012 at 01:33 PM
Rob, I was invited to the event by Catholic Charities. A lady from the group was walking around the neighborhood looking for people that might need help. Councilwomen Miller Ryan and Rev. Radcliffe where here to talk to some people in the neighborhood who are still having problems with their banks. They didn't even mention the event. Again sorry for taking so long to post. Should have called.
Sandy Fantau July 27, 2012 at 01:52 PM
It is my understanding that in order to sue the Army Corp or DEP the suit must be filed within 5 days of the flooding event. They are protected by a statute of limitations. That being said there is just not enough time to put together a class action suit in that time frame. After Hurrican Irene I think most people did not even get a chance to asses their damages in 5 days. From my understanding governour Witman put the stop on the flood tunnel, but let the floodgates get built anyway. There is plenty of information stating the floodgates where put in to protect communities upstream. I have been trying to find any study that might have been done about the effects of the floodgates without the tunnel. So far I can find nothing, so I assume it was never done and they where put in with no consideration of the communities down stream. I do hope our representives are looking into the fact that communities up stream want to line the Ramapo River with rock to help stop the erosion problem that is happening up stream from us. This will only make the water come to us faster.
Rob Burke July 27, 2012 at 01:57 PM
you mean 'former floodzone,' right?
Sandy Fantau July 27, 2012 at 05:29 PM
Joe I agree that they need to put a moratorium on building within the flood zones. However I don't see that happening any where in NJ or any other state. I have a friend who live in SC, in a flood zone and they are trying to fight the building of a Walmart within the zone. To make things crazier they want to fill in 20 or so acreas with 20 ft of fill. They are looking to build a mail in mawaha along the Ramapo River. This also is a flood zone. Maybe a good start would be for FEMA, blue acreas, and any other program to buy the property that can be built on now that is within any flood zone in the state. This way you are not adding any more buildings or people within this sensitive area. The DEP won in court that Top Soil Depot filled in there property and that it is contaminated with carcinogens. Why haven't steps been taken to remove the soil and bring the property back to the levels before it was filled in. If I'm not mistaken I believe about 10 new homes where built in my neighborhood from 1984. I think about 6 homes are being raised above the flood level, so they should not be a major burden on flood insurance any more. From the time the floodgates became operational in 2007 there has been repetive damage to all homes below the floodgates. I believe my neighborhood has been hit at least 7 times. Just for your information you can not put in a flood claim unless you and your neighbors have water surrounding their home. That means most non-major floods are not covered.

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