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More residents evacuate as New Jersey river swells

By Leigh Remizowski, CNN
Rains and the cresting of nearby waters caused flooding in front of the Hi-Tech auto shop in Wayne, New Jersey.
Rains and the cresting of nearby waters caused flooding in front of the Hi-Tech auto shop in Wayne, New Jersey.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The Passaic River is expected to crest at double the flood level, officials say
  • Crews are trying to rescue people stranded in their homes
  • Hurricane Irene made landfall in New Jersey Sunday

(CNN) -- As the Passaic River in New Jersey threatened to crest to dangerously high levels Tuesday, residents continued to battle the floodwaters that have forced thousands of people to relocate, authorities said.

Search and rescue teams are combing through Passaic County, evacuating residents who are still stuck inside their flood-ravaged homes in the wake of Hurricane Irene, said Edward O'Connell, a spokesman for the county's Office of Emergency Management.

About 1,700 residents have been evacuated from their homes in Wayne, Totowa, Little Falls, Paterson and Woodland Park communities, said O'Connell. Many more left their homes on their own over the weekend, he added.

Rescuers are pulling families and pets alike from their homes and using rafts to transport them down the county's flooded roads. Evacuees are being transferred to several area shelters or taken to the homes of family members living on higher ground.

"It's been pretty much 24 hours a day," said Sgt. Alex Popov of the Paterson, New Jersey, Police Department.

Popov estimated that about 500 people had been rescued from their homes in Paterson.

"We're dealing with elderly people, families, small children and pets," he explained.

Forecasters have predicted that the Passaic River, which runs through the southern tip of the county, will swell to a level that is double what is considered to be a "flood stage" in some areas.

"They are expecting it to crest sometime today and the other rivers will be rising a little bit as well," O'Connell said.

"Hopefully it will crest soon and we can assess the damages," he added.

CNN's Katie Silver and Rachel Garrett contributed to this report

 
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