National Guard Arrives in Hoboken to Help Thousands Trapped in Flood, Mayor Says
Half the city still without power, thousands trapped in apartments in flood-ravaged city.
National Guard troops spent much of the day Wednesday rescuing weary residents trapped in their apartments surrounded by several feet of water, and delivering supplies to those who decided to remain.
At least 85 percent of Hoboken was still without power and despite assistance from the National Guard, thousands remained trapped in heavily flooded areas.
After a desperate plea from Mayor Dawn Zimmer for assistance from the National Guard, the forces arrived late Tuesday night, Zimmer confirmed on Twitter.
"I am so thankful to have NG here to help our city! Thank you Governor Christie," Zimmer tweeted shortly after 1:30 a.m. Wednesday.
The troops began rescuing residents early Wednesday, beginning with medical emergencies first.
Among those rescued were a 5-day-old baby and a 6-month-old child with a fever.
Zimmer said the National Guard was focusing on Hoboken's hardest-hit areas and giving trapped residents a "choice of more supplies if needed or evacuate."
Water was being delivered to most apartments and shelters.
At least half of Hoboken residents are without power and while flooding is slowly receding, the water is expected to remain for at least a few more days, city officials estimated.
All public schools were canceled on Wednesday and the annual Ragamuffin Parade has been postponed until a yet to be determined date.
While water started receding on Tuesday, it was still impossible in many parts of Hoboken to pass through city streets. Approximately half of Hoboken flooded during Sandy's passage through town on Sunday and Monday.
PSE&G informed its customers that power will likely be restored by Monday, a day before election day.
After it was safe to go outside on Tuesday morning, hundreds of Hobokenites ventured out into the streets—ignoring a city-wide curfew which was not enforced by police—to see the flooding up close and take pictures.
On the corner of Newark and Garden, the coffeeshop Legal Beans coffeeshop was saturated with water, its windows shattered. While the same intersection was hit hard by Irene last year, Sandy's wrath was much more devastating.
Jason Schwartz, a Hoboken resident for the past 27 years, lost power during the storm, but was otherwise not very affected, he said. Looking at the Hudson River basically flow down Garden Street, he said, "It's sad."
"There's nothing you can do about it," he said, "it's part of living by the water."
On Garden between Newark Street and Observer Highway, people stood on their stoops, unable to get out of their houses. The basement apartments that flooded during Irene were hit harder this time.
On Garden Street, three tenants were removing the water from their flooded ground floor apartment on Tuesday afternoon, by dumping bucket after bucket of water from their apartment.
Stacy Drolshagen, one of the residents, said that during Irene there were only a few inches. Now, there were at least six inches of rainwater inside.
Most businesses were closed on Tuesday and many of them sustained heavy damage. Most of the businesses on Washington Street were in the dark.
While much of the city is out of power, the mayor and her staffers together with the Office of Emergency Management, the Community Emergency Response Team volunteers and the Hoboken Volunteer Ambulance Corps are running a command center in City Hall. The rest of the building remained without power.
Zimmer spent much of the afternoon on a front loader with police officers, assessing the damage and trying to help stranded residents.
The city experienced issues with its communications, with only one phone line working at the command center. At police headquarters all phones were down, forcing officers to communicate with walkie talkies.
The shelter in the Wallace School was moved to two new locations—Sts Peter & Paul and St. Matthew Trinity—because the back up aggregator failed. Volunteers and supplies—such as pillows and blankets—were needed for the people in the shelters.