LITTLE FALLS/WOODLAND PARK, NJ - It was 21 years ago next month that Hurricane Floyd struck the East Coast, killing seven people in New Jersey, including one man from Little Falls. That tragedy and the huge loss of property started a journey to solve the dangerous flash flooding problem from the Peckman River. 

It happened again in 2011 during Hurricane Irene and during the freak August 2018 storm, which swept vehicles into the river channel. Each time, local officials doubled down on their resolve to solve the problem.

After all that - and thanks in large part to our Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill and former Congressman Bill Pascrell Jr., the project has been designed and has now been approved by Congress and will begin to be funded. 

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The legislation authorizes for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to move forward with the Peckman River Basin Flood Risk Management project, a $146 million mitigation plan.

“This is a milestone that some thought we would never achieve and nothing short of a huge accomplishment,” said Woodland Park Mayor Keith Kazmark. “A special thanks to the members of the Passaic Valley Regional Flood Board - both past and present, who never gave up.”

This project will install a 1,500-foot-long, 40-foot-diameter diversion tunnel near the Paterson Avenue athletic fields to divert flood waters out of the Peckman and into the Passaic River. This will solve flash flooding not only from the Peckman, but also from its tributaries - Dowling Brook and brook in the Kohl’s parking lot which frequently overflows its banks. It will not exasperate flooding of the Passaic. 

In addition, the plan calls for

  • 1,848 linear feet of channel modifications.
  • 2,170 linear feet of levees and/or flood walls.
  • 1,207 linear feet of levees and/or flood walls near Passaic Valley High School, between the track and baseball fields.
  • Raising up to 16 structures and flood-proofing as many as 58 structures.

“When I was first elected, so many people told me to give up hope on this project and not waste my time, after nearly 25 years of failed progress,” said Little Falls Mayor James Damiano. “While additional authorizations and funding are needed, we are closer than ever, and I will continue the fight to see this through.”

While the measure has passed the House of Representatives, it now needs the Senate's approval. It is scheduled to vote on it in the fall session.

“Flooding has plagued the 11th District for decades, and the Peckman River Basin is no exception,” said Representative Sherrill. “I’m proud to have fought for the authorization of the Peckman River project alongside Congressman Pascrell so that we can take another step toward providing much needed relief these towns deserve. We must continue to address flooding across North Jersey, and the Water Resources Development Act is just one piece of this work. I will continue to fight for all of our towns affected by flooding, including advocating for federal support of flood mitigation projects and addressing challenges with the National Flood Insurance Program.”