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Town Receives $18.5 Million To Purchase Flood-Damaged Homes

Funds will be used to purchase 70 homes along Passaic and Pompton Rivers.

Wayne will receive an additional $18.5 million to purchase 70 homes in the worst hit flood areas in town.

The homes are located in the Passaic River and Pompton River floodways. 

The funds are provided through the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) Severe Repetitive Loss Program. Properties are included in the program based on how much damange their properties have incurred in recent flood events. Homeowners are given fair market value for their property.

The township  last year from the program to buy out 56 homes in the Hoffman Grove section of Wayne. The money was part of a $28 million grant to municipalities to buy out homes in the Passaic River Flood Basin. 

The township has already purchased and demolished more than 70 homes in Hoffman Grove in two rounds of acquisitions. 

Some local officials, while they welcome the buyouts, said more needs to be done to prevent flooding in the basin beyond just getting residents out of harm's way.

"Buyouts are the complete answer, not at all," said 1st Ward Councilman Alan Purcell.

The 1st Ward is often the worse hit flood area in town. When flooding is particularly serious, as it was when Irene hit, parts of Routes 23 and 46 in the ward are closed. 

The ward contains a lot of commercial space, including the  Mall, and in the Mountainview section of town. Some flooded-out businesses in the ward have not yet opened since Irene and some residents have not returned to their homes.

"We can't buy out all of the industry in the 1st Ward, that's never going to happen, we need the jobs here in town, so something else must be done," Purcell said.

Purcell said that work should begin immediately on a drainage tunnel from the basin to Newark Bay.

"A tunnel would not only help solve the problem, it would stimulate the economy just like the Hoover dam did and that's still working the way it should all these years later," Purcell said. "A tunnel l control flooding to the point where we could enjoy more economic growth in the area."

Senator Frank Lautenberg announced Thursday morning that the funds had been allocated. Lautenberg is vice chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security, which funds the program.

"This program provides an opportunity for Wayne families that face flooding year after year to move out of harm’s way," Lautenberg said in a statement. "While we work to find long-term solutions to flooding in this region, this federal funding is an important step that will create open space and reduce future flood damage."

Residents said the flooding caused by Hurricane Irene was the . That flooding came not even six months after another flood event shut down major highways and drove people from their homes . 

Steve May 03, 2012 at 08:05 PM
The folks on Laguna Dr. area have upscale homes and properties. It would cost the town alot to purchase these, even in this economy. Take the money and upgrade the stream near there to a wider and deeper level; as it used to be. Beyond that its the GATES.
leanbean May 03, 2012 at 09:18 PM
@ Steve, The monies can onlt be used to purchase the homes. And to have them torn down and removed. It can't be used for anything else. The homes on Laguna Dr. do not qualify under the terms of FEMA. They do not flood after minor flooding in the area.. Widening that brook would have no effect when it floods. The water backs up from the river in Hoffmans Grove were it's outlet is.
leanbean May 03, 2012 at 09:20 PM
The monies cannot be used
Steve May 04, 2012 at 12:01 AM
leanbean- I've seen the water come in that area and it comes in from the opposite direction of Hoffman
leanbean May 04, 2012 at 01:25 AM
Steve-It backs up from the river and flows over Rt23. I use to live in the Grove and I've lived by Laguna Dr. before it was built. If you want I'll take your there and show you. I've lived in this area for 69 yrs and seen a lot of floods. Before Laguna Esates was built I use to duck hunt and pheasant hunt there. When I was a small boy I remember Niels house under water. That's the house they just got done remodeling on the corner of 23 and Laguna. It backs all the way up and floods out the golf course.All the oil that was in the water came over the highway from Van Varicks. I don't want to argue with you. But I know this as a fact and I can prove it. And above you. It comes out of the storm drains on New York Ave and flows towards your area also. But widing the Pack. outlet would do nothing except take land away from some homeowens that live by it. Water seeks it's own level. When the river rise the stream will rise. When it gets to a higher level. The stream starts to back up.
Steve May 04, 2012 at 01:48 AM
leanbean - I can't say that it doesn't also come from the grove section, but it does come from the opposite direction.
Nose Wayne May 04, 2012 at 03:45 AM
Filling in the flood plain(Mothers Parking Lot,New Jersey Transit) to name a few,has contributed to the severe flooding in lower wayne.Time to DREDGE the river again.As for the GATES,we DO NOTneed another study.Put our study people in a rubber raft at the Gates when they are open and see how fast it takes to get to willowbrook mall.
kenneth m. wiatrak May 04, 2012 at 06:14 AM
lean bean u are rt we live on the brook on winding way. we sit on the deck , watch it flow out then stop on a dime and reverse course. then its only a matter of how high the flood level will get. if niels house was under water before laguna estates was built, then i'd like to know how the project was approved ????? who was the mayor, members of the planning board and the real estate broker. i recently talked to a broker who didn't know where i lived. he bragged to me that he knew how to get homes built in flood areas. i suggest that massive water retention areas need to be built especially in the buy out areas. lets face it the only real solution was the tunnel project. the waters just can't drain fast enough. so if i may coin an expression " if it won't drain, then we must contain "
Nose Wayne May 04, 2012 at 10:59 AM
ken,Look across the brook..That used to be a lake with swimming and fishing.Now it is filled in just like the park and ride down the street.I think the mayor,planning board and real estate people call it "Progress"
Wayne's World May 04, 2012 at 12:40 PM
Now that the Wayne Transit Center is operational, there doesn't seem to be a need for Mother's at all. I believe it is private property being leased to NJ Transit. The parking lot never seems more than a quarter full. This would be a perfect project for Green Acres or something similar. Buy it back, take out the asphalt, and let it go back to nature, with a nice large retention basin/lake to look at as we drive by. What a great idea!
leanbean May 04, 2012 at 04:10 PM
Wayne's World. There use to be a lake there. It was called Laguna Beach. It was an old clay pit that was owned by Paterson Brick Co. Back in the late 40's or 50's Milt Neil bought it and made a swim club out of it. And named it Laguna Beach. The over flow form the lake went into the stream. The same stream that backs up and floods the area today. The area also flooded before it was filled in . In the late 60's. My Grandfather worked there when it was a Brick yard. They hit an underground spring and it filled up with water in no time. This whole area is sitting on clay and there is no perk for it to drain off. The only answer to help this area is the flood tunnel. With the tunnel in place. The river would never reach a level that would back the stream up. My 69 years in this town I've seen more floods then I can count. As a kid I remember the bridge on 202 being washed out. And the Army corp engeers had a Duck transporting people from the front off the Old Cozy which is now Mr Sushi to the otherside of the river to Wolfson's as a kid we'd ride it back and forth.
leanbean May 04, 2012 at 04:15 PM
Ken- If I remember correctly Richard Brown was Mayor at the time Laguna Estates went in. Back then they could buid anywhere they wanted to. There use to be a lake there. It was called Laguna Beach. It was an old clay pit that was owned by Paterson Brick Co. Back in the late 40's or 50's Milt Neil bought it and made a swim club out of it. And named it Laguna Beach. The over flow form the lake went into the stream. The same stream that backs up and floods the area today. The area also flooded before it was filled in . In the late 60's. My Grandfather worked there when it was a Brick yard. They hit an underground spring and it filled up with water in no time. This whole area is sitting on clay and there is no perk for it to drain off. The only answer to help this area is the flood tunnel. With the tunnel in place. The river would never reach a level that would back the stream up. My 69 years in this town I've seen more floods then I can count. As a kid I remember the bridge on 202 being washed out. And the Army corp engeers had a Duck transporting people from the front off the Old Cozy which is now Mr Sushi to the otherside of the river to Wolfson's as a kid we'd ride it back and forth.
Nose Wayne May 04, 2012 at 04:35 PM
Leanbean,thank you for telling everyone how much fun Wayne was back in the day.Just so everyone NOSE,A Duck was an Army Vehicle used in the war that could be driven on land and in the water.Wayne had one to do evacuations back in the 70's and 80's.and could drive(or float)up to peoples doors and evacuate them.
Scondo May 04, 2012 at 04:38 PM
lean, what a great history. The Brickyards were all along that area, North Cove, and down by the apartments, there are still clay pits evident, they are water filled now but still visible. In Lincoln Park near there are a couple of streets named after brick companies. You will never see the tunnel. The opposition of down river communities like Lyndhurst, Kearny, Harrison will never let it happen, and the Passaic River Coalition and Sierra Club opposition killed any hope. So even if the money was available they will kill it. PRC has effectively negated any flood remediation over the years. Basically one tail wagging the dog.
Rania Baladi May 04, 2012 at 05:09 PM
Wayne's World: The four year contract (that is almost 6-7years now) should have expired. What I heard through the grape-vine is that NJ Transit ran out of monies to build more parking for the Wayne Transit Center. MAKES ME WANT TO THROW UP... You are all right and again the only reason this topic is so HOT is because our representatives have been cornered by BIG businesses, who have threatened to lose shop if flooding occurs again. We are just being shuffled in between all those involved in a solution. THE TUNNEL WAS APPROVED...THE MONEY IS GONE, AND THE PROJECT BECAME MORE DIFFICULT BECAUSE THEY CANNOT BUILD THE TUNNEL UP OUR YOU KNOW WHAT. I truely had hope that we meant something as citizens, now I pray that the business apply more pressure so something may be done.
Sandy Fantau May 04, 2012 at 05:40 PM
Dan we are along the Ramapo River. We have never had repetitive damage in this neighborhood until 2007. I believe only 2 homes are able to be bought out and they applied through the blue acres program. In other words they started the process.
Nose Wayne May 04, 2012 at 06:52 PM
How many more floods is it going to take until the insurance companies say"We are not going to pay you any more money because you have been flooded too many times! Just like having to many accidents with car insurance,they will drop you or you pay so much money,you will not be able to afford it
Scondo May 04, 2012 at 08:55 PM
Sandy: There have been according to definition. Definition:The definition of severe repetitive loss as applied to this program was established in section 1361A of the National Flood Insurance Act, as amended (NFIA), 42 U.S.C. 4102a. An SRL property is defined as a residential property that is covered under an NFIP flood insurance policy and: (a) That has at least four NFIP claim payments (including building and contents) over $5,000 each, and the cumulative amount of such claims payments exceeds $20,000; or (b) For which at least two separate claims payments (building payments only) have been made with the cumulative amount of the building portion of such claims exceeding the market value of the building. For both (a) and (b) above, at least two of the referenced claims must have occurred within any ten-year period, and must be greater than 10 days apart.
Scondo May 04, 2012 at 08:56 PM
NFIP is prohibetted by law from doing that. It is the only "game" in the entire country.
Sandy Fantau May 04, 2012 at 09:10 PM
Scando thanks for the information. I know a family on lake that would love a buyout and they where told they did not meet the requirements. I will pass this on to their son.
Nose Wayne May 05, 2012 at 03:27 AM
Sandy,i do not know what more requirements you need when the water is up to the roof of your house. Scondo, i know it is prohibeted by law,but you know how loopholes are always found in laws.Great information you found,i am glad some of us do their homework before we post information.
Steve May 05, 2012 at 04:50 AM
Dredge streams, widen streams, clear debris and keep the GATES SHUT!
Rob Burke May 05, 2012 at 03:26 PM
@Scondo -- According to the definition???? Most people whose houses now get water in them but never did before don't care much for your "definition." And why, pray tell, were arrests threatened at the flooding conference the other day? Threats to arrest folks who were handing out pamphelets about flooding. Seriously???? On what charge??? What kind of country have we become??? Is this still America. with a Constitution, a Bill of Rights? WTF???
Pat Lowe May 06, 2012 at 11:55 PM
I think a buyout is a first step. I'm happy to see it. Something HAS to be done with the rivers. They need to get dredged to start with
kenneth m. wiatrak May 09, 2012 at 09:59 AM
gentlemen : the tunnel will never be built and is the only viable solution submitted by the corp's '88 study. what is needed is massive water retention areas i.e. dig out the entire grove section into linc park but high water tables are a problem and these projects may disturb frog habitats which will bring the sierra's into action. really hate to be so pessimistic.
un-common sense July 09, 2012 at 03:09 PM
you bought in a known flood area.......now it's everyone elses problem......god bless this country.. maybe a little research would have helped you!
un-common sense July 09, 2012 at 03:13 PM
maybe if the insurance company's refused to insure these people, they would be willing to except a buy out....most of these fools bought house and land for under $50 grand, and think they should get 300 grand......Is it still 1980's
leanbean July 09, 2012 at 03:47 PM
@ un-common sense, your useing the correct screen name with your comments. People buy in the flood plain because that is what they could afford. Plus the fact that many bought there homes before the flood gates were put in. The gates changed everything. If you bought your house 20 or 30 years ago? You would be looking to make money on the sale also seeing all the homes in the area have gone up in value. The insurance company's don't sell the flood ins. FEMA does. It's a separate policy. That they buy along with there homeoweners policy. So try and have a little support for these folks. If you were in there shoes? You would want some.
Sandy Fantau July 09, 2012 at 04:40 PM
@Un-common sense, please take a look at the spot graph up above. I again can not speak for other neighborhoods except my own. From the graph you can easily see the increase in flooding with the opening of the Pompton Floodgates. I have lived in my neighborhood from 1972 and the only time I had water on my property was in 1984. After the Floodgates became operational in 2007 my community has had water almost ever year. Yes we did buy in a flood zone, but when people looked at the river gauges our neighborhood was not in an area that was prone to repetive damages. From 2007 that has changed and people should be given what the property was worth before the Floodgates became operational. For someone to lump the whole flood zone into one categorie is wrong. That is like saying ever home outside the flood zone are like the homes in visca estates. That is just not true. Maybe you would be better directing your frustration over building in the flood zone to what is be proposed in Mahwah. Someone want to build a new mall along the Ramapo River and route 202. The more that gets built and filled in up stream from us, means more water in the lower Passaic River Basin. Fight that. Leave these poor people alone. They bought where they can afford to give their children the best education they could. They bought in Wayne for the same reasons you did. How about lets stop all new building in the flood zone.
Alaskop January 24, 2013 at 08:36 PM
There's either 20 years of data missing between 1984 and 2004 or the river level never rose above 11' during those years and then suddenly began to flood yearly after that. That tells me it's a man made problem.

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