By Desirée Taylor
Little Falls is still feeling the impact of Tropical Storm Irene one year after it devastated this community and other parts of the state. Little Falls Mayor Darlene Post says FEMA still hasn’t reimbursed her town the $885,000 it spent for the cleanup. And she says some residents in hard hit areas of town haven’t returned. There are a few abandoned homes in town that are located near the Passaic River. And there are at least a half dozen properties in this area that have for sale signs on the lawn.
The federal government has offered help. So far, 78 homeowners have been approved for a federal buyout or elevation. Gail Corbosiero, who has been flooded seven times over the last 26 years, is hoping for the latter option. “If the buyout comes through and it’s enough to pay my mortgage and put a deposit down, I am out,” said Corbosiero.
Gov. Chris Christie established the Passaic River Basin Flood Advisory Commission back in 2010 to address the flooding problems. It has established a 15-point plan that calls for updating flood risk mapping and providing DEP grants to pay for the removal of snags and debris that can exacerbate flooding. There are also long-term structural projects planned to enhance or modify levees, floodwalls, bridges and dams. But many residents believe the only way to curb flooding is to dredge the Passaic River.
Corbosiero and other residents say they get nervous every time there’s a heavy downpour. “When I saw Isaac, I prayed, ” said Corbosiero. “Please don’t let it come up the coast.”