The National Guard rescued hundreds of bleary-eyed residents trapped in their Hoboken apartments in heavily flooded neighborhoods Wednesday.
Families with small children, people with pets, seniors and residents with medical emergencies were taken out of their flood-ravaged homes with amphibious vehicles and brought back to City Hall by the military forces.
While rescues were voluntary in most cases, many residents said they didn't expect the storm to hit Hoboken so hard and thought they'd be able to ride it out. When the floodwaters rose, they were trapped with a dwindling supply of food and water.
First priority on Wednesday went to people with medical emergencies. One woman with labor pains, a five-day old infant and a three week old were all evacuated overnight.
At Fourth and Madison, Swati Gadodi, 33, was evacuated from her house where she had been since Monday night without power. She said her basement was flooded and she was unable to leave.
“We were scared when the storm surge came,” Gadodi, who was at home with her husband Prashant and 3-year-old son Vihaan. “We were lucky that we were saved.”
“We were running out of milk for the baby,” Gadodi said. “We couldn’t have survived for one more night.”
Gadodi said she left Hoboken after Irene, but stayed in town this time around because there was no city-wide mandatory evacuation.
The National Guard, together with a large group of volunteers, brought water to those residents who decided to stay in their homes.
The Hoboken Housing Authority was still completely flooded Wednesday and meals and water were scheduled to be delivered there.
Katie Murphy was evacuated from her apartment at First and Clinton Streets with her husband and 16-month-old twins. Murphy is five months pregnant and said she was happy to be out of her apartment.
“We thought we’d be fine for a couple of days,” she said, “I’m happy to be out of there.”
One of the main problems for many residents was the lack of available information after power and most cell phone service went out in town.
“There was no way to get it,” said Lisa Chernick, who was stuck at Jackson Street between First and Second Streets. “We felt a little bit abandoned,” added Chernick.
For her daughter Charlotte, 10, the storm meant a boring and cold day. “It was boring,” she said, “We couldn’t do anything.”
Residents at Marine View Plaza were without power after its back up generator failed, and were without water as well. Elevators in Marine View weren’t working.
James Way, 50, was evacuated from his apartment at Fourth and Monroe Streets together with his dog shaggy.
“My dog is fine,” he said, “he’ll be much better now that he’s going to a house.”
In most Hoboken neighborhoods, communication remains at a halt. Residents without cell phone service, Internet connection and electricity were concerned about family members stuck in their apartments in the flood, and had no way of getting in touch with them. While most of Hoboken remains in the dark, power restoration could return by Monday, PSE&G has said.
Rescue operations by the National Guard started very early in the morning on Wednesday and were supposed to continue all day.
“It’s going to be a long process,” said Emergency Management Director Joel Mestre, “but we’re going to do it.”