Jersey floods leave rail cars floating, homes in road

N.J. governor: Sandy impact 'terrifying'
N.J. governor: Sandy impact 'terrifying'

    JUST WATCHED

    NJ governor: Sandy impact 'terrifying'

MUST WATCH

NJ governor: Sandy impact 'terrifying' 02:01

Story highlights

  • President Obama is set to tour damaged areas of New Jersey on Wednesday
  • Houses end up in the middle of highway; rail cars float on turnpike
  • Some flood victims were barefoot; mothers carried diaper bags and babies as they fled
  • The affected area is in Bergen County near New York City

Ralph Verdi has been working for nearly 30 hours.

You won't hear him complain. He says yes and no ma'am when a reporter stops him to ask him a question, even though he's helping lead the rescue effort of three New Jersey towns that are drowning.

Verdi works for the police in Little Ferry, a town of about 10,000 people that was flooded Tuesday as water kicked up by Sandy barreled over a natural berm.

It took only about 30 minutes for Moonachie, a town of about 2,700 residents in Bergen County along the Hackensack River, to be nearly 6 feet under water. It's also bad in another town, Carlstadt.

Superstorm Sandy's toll: Mounting deaths, historic destruction, stranded residents

The surge floated rail cars onto the New Jersey Turnpike as railways were littered with trees and power lines. There are houses in the middle of Route 35, and much of FunTown Amusement Pier in Seaside Park is washed out.

A woman waved and shouted for help from her front porch as rescuers scrambled to save people in Bergen County. Hundreds of people have been whisked from rising water in their homes, many who climbed into boats that have navigated the murky water.

Massive waves wash over New Jersey homes
Massive waves wash over New Jersey homes

    JUST WATCHED

    Massive waves wash over New Jersey homes

MUST WATCH

Massive waves wash over New Jersey homes 00:44
Homes damaged along New Jersey coastline
Homes damaged along New Jersey coastline

    JUST WATCHED

    Homes damaged along New Jersey coastline

MUST WATCH

Homes damaged along New Jersey coastline 01:18
Superstorm aftermath from every angle
Superstorm aftermath from every angle

    JUST WATCHED

    Superstorm aftermath from every angle

MUST WATCH

Superstorm aftermath from every angle 01:08

Some wore pajamas and were barefoot. Mothers carried diaper bags and crying kids. Thousands more remain stranded, local officials said, in as much as 6 feet of water.

"We're in search-and-rescue mode," said Jeanne Baratta, chief of staff to the Bergen County executive.

There are some reported injuries, but no one has learned of any deaths, Baratta said.

Gov. Chris Christie was as blunt as he's ever been.

Christie told reporters that he didn't "give a damn" about the presidential election, which will happen in a week. He said his only concern was making sure New Jersey residents were safe.

Sandy's devastation is "beyond anything I thought I'd ever see," he said. "The level of devastation at the Jersey Shore is unthinkable."

New Jersey officials are "nowhere near" allowing many residents to return to their homes in flooded areas, Christie said.

Chris Christie: Jersey Shore devastation 'unthinkable'

He plans to fly Tuesday to visit one of the most ravaged towns, but it's unclear if there will be a place for the plane to land due to all the damage.

Christie also said that every rail line in the state has been severely damaged.

The governor added he's confident that President Barack Obama and the federal government will work with New Jersey and that the state will rebuild. Obama will tour damaged areas of the state Wednesday, the White House said.

While Christie spoke, rescuers in Moonachie charged up to second floors of homes, with helicopters hovering overhead.

State police and the National Guard are helping. Rescue workers from Virginia are expected to arrive Tuesday afternoon, said Baratta, the Bergen County official.

"The rescue workers -- they're phenomenal," she said. "They're pulling together."

A mother in Bergen told CNN that she and her two children were about to go to sleep when they heard a loud noise, looked outside and saw people running in the street.

Google maps Sandy flooding, power outages

In an instant, water started rushing into their home. They didn't bother to pack anything up but yelled for each other and struggled out the door.

The superstorm knocked out power along the Jersey City waterfront. CNN iReporter Marc Anderson, a photographer, said the power in his apartment building went out at 9 p.m. Monday and the basement filled up with about 8 inches of water. The sewers backed up, he said, and the smell was terrible. The neighborhood grocery store was a madhouse, he said, but everyone was just glad to be safe.

Back in Moonachie, The Bergen Record spoke with Jan Gulino, who lives in a trailer park. She was among about 100 people at the Bergen County Technical High School shelter. She said she was watching TV at 1 a.m. when neighbors knocked on her door to tell her that her car was in deep water.

Together, they managed to push the car to higher ground. A rescue crew arrived and ordered her out of her house because there was kerosene in the water.

So Gulino grabbed her boxer, Max, and got on a boat, along with six neighbors. She was taken by truck, then bus, to the high school.

She's just happy to be with Max. "I wasn't going to go anywhere," she told the paper, "without him."

How you can help

      Superstorm Sandy

    • The storm that broke records, and hearts

      A mother learns that her newborn is part of a hospital evacuation. Facebook posts from a member of the HMS Bounty turn ominous. A man worries about the wind and rain, but another force of nature hits home.
    • In the wake of Superstorm Sandy, a storm that ripped so much apart, people have come together to provide help and hope.

      In Sandy's wake, help comes in unexpected ways

      Tourists become volunteer rescue workers. The connected provide power outlets and Wi-Fi. Performers lift spirits. Photographers preserve images. Doctors work overtime to keep hospitals running and patients alive.
    • Despite a mangled phone screen, volunteer Candice Osborne is able to quickly respond to the needs of Superstorm Sandy victims with the help of social media.

      Social media make helping personal

      It has been in operation only since October 30, but the Facebook page for "Giving back to those affected by Sandy" has a longer timeline than most Facebook members.
    • Steph Goralnick

      Let's not forget Superstorm Sandy's victims

      It's important to remember that even as the effect of Superstorm Sandy recedes from the news, there are still devastated areas that are without electricity, heat or hot water.
    • Americares volunteers help clean out flood damaged homes in Queens, New York during Operation "Muck-Out"

      Volunteers help Sandy victims start over

      Our AmeriCares "Operation Muck-Out" team immediately got to work, ripping out the interior walls and removing the insulation until only wooden beams were standing.
    • exp point harlow murray sandy_00013211

      Trying to keep the family business afloat

      Ashley Murray became the first female president of Liberty Industrial Gases and Welding Supplies Inc. in Brooklyn. But now the family history Murray was charged with preserving is at risk of ending after Superstorm Sandy.
    • Jeannette Van Houten and other residents of Union Beach, New Jersey, have found family photos such as this one scattered after Superstorms Sandy. They want to return them to their rightful owners.

      Finding joy among the wreckage

      The adage says "a picture is worth a thousand words," but when Leeann Lewandowski happened upon a photograph of her late mother on Facebook after her home was destroyed in Superstorm Sandy, she was speechless.