FAIRFIELD, NJ — Nearly five inches of torrential rain that the National Weather Service reported to have fallen in the Caldwell-West Caldwell area on Saturday caused havoc on some Fairfield roads and homes as well.
Flash flood warnings were sent out as homeowners watched the water flow down from the mountains of North Caldwell to the lower areas of Fairfield above Passaic Avenue. Some streets that are typically affected by such flash floods include Carlos Drive, Summit Avenue, Glen Avenue, Greenbrook Road and Beverly Road, according to Fairfield Township Administrator Joseph Catenaro.
Another section of town that experienced flash flooding was Henning Drive, Campbell Road and Alan Drive. Catenaro explained that “when the drainage system was installed for this area, it was designed to handle a 20-year flood.”
“It has a small capacity and was not designed to handle that much water,” he said.
In both areas of town, the backup and water-flow stops almost immediately after the rain stops, and within a half hour, water begins heading toward the Passaic River.
“The drainage system does work,” Catenaro said.
As some Fairfield residents worry about flash floods, other residents worry about the impact of the rain on the Passaic River. These residents have experienced the devastating effects of a raging Passaic River.
Some of the roads affected by the river are Camp Lane, Two Bridges Road, River Edge Road, Broadway Lane, Matt Drive, Brook Street, Oak Road, parts of Horseneck and Big Piece Roads, Cole Road, Sylvan Road and Long Acres.
“Thankfully, the rain came from the west,” said Catenaro said, who explained that if it came from the north, water would have come down from New York State and would have drained into the Passaic River causing an increase in flooding.
The National Weather Service’s hydrograph of the Passaic River at Pine Brook showed the river cresting at 19.57 feet, which is considerably lower than the historic crest of Hurricane Irene at 24.25 feet. At 19 feet, there was a small amount of street flooding, but not much more.
In 2011, Hurricane Irene left a major part of Fairfield in devastation. It affected even homes in areas of town that never saw water before. After Hurricane Irene, the flood-plain maps had to be revised.
The Fairfield governing body has a bid out to engage a company to clear trees out of the river. During the winter, many trees fell into the river and brooks due to the heavy ice storms. These trees impede the flow of the river, slowing things down.
Many residents are concerned about the ongoing building in town and are wondering if flooding will increase because of it. Some said they will be keeping a close watch on the Passaic River and are hoping for sunny days.
Any residents who have questions on the flooding are urged to attend the next Fairfield mayor and council meeting on Monday, Aug. 27 at 7 p.m.