The town on the Hackensack River
Secaucus residents recover from Sandy
by Adriana Rambay Fernández
Reporter Staff Writer
Nov 11, 2012 | 5694 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
ON GAIL PLACE – Marc and Lynne Ricco had emptied half of the contents of their home on Gail Place onto the driveway and curb after the rising tide from Sandy flooded their basement and climbed up to four feet into their first floor.
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Residents in Secaucus continue to clean-up and recover from the damage left in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. Many people who lived in low-lying areas experienced several feet of flooding that was at least twice as much as what was caused by Tropical Storm Irene last year. The tidal storm raised the levels of the Hackensack River and surrounding marshes.

The water swept into basements and first floors and damaged homes in areas that were flooded along Farm Road, Acorn, Oak, Gail Place, Valley Court, Millridge Road, 10th Street, Huber Street, and Meadowlands Parkway.

The municipality sustained substantial damage from severe flooding, loss of electricity due to downed power lines, and blown transformers, and fallen trees.

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“I am hoping this is once in a lifetime.” – Marc Ricco

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In the midst of the storm, firefighters and emergency response workers rescued over 100 residents by boat from flooded homes.

“It was horrible,” said Maria Rodriguez days after the storm hit. She has lived on 10th street for more than nine years. She had six feet of water in her lower level. She said all her cleaning materials flowed down the street. She had piles of garbage bags lining her front sidewalk that contained damaged possessions.

On Farm Road, the street was lined with washed out furniture, damaged mattresses, and soaked possessions. According to Mayor Michael Gonnelli an oil tank flipped over on one of the properties and caused 50 gallons of oil to further contaminate the water that flooded the road.

One house after another, residents pulled damaged possessions out to the front of the property. Some streets were lined with couches, mattresses, furniture, and personal belongings that all littered the curbs.

One resident had evacuated her home on Monday only to return the next day to discover most of her possessions destroyed.

“My apartment is lost,” said Dana Dipoto-Engleke as she took a reporter from room to room through her house next to Farm Road. She showed where the water had gone up several feet and reached her mattress. She has resided in the multi-level property for 33 years.

“I am trying to wrap my head around this...everything is gone,” she said, overtaken with emotion.

On Millridge Road, Sandy felled enormous trees in Schmidts Woods. Across the way, Daniel Conroy took garbage bags out tossed them into a Dumpster.

He said he had just neared completion of refurnishing his basement after the damage Irene had caused. With eight feet of water, he had to get rid of everything, and planned to tear out the walls.

He chose to stay in his home during the storm instead of evacuate.

“It was very scary,” he said. He said the water rushed in from both ends of the street in both directions, coming from Mill Ridge Point Park and from the high school parking lot.

He said he had prepared and felt that the town did everything it could do.

He noted that he has been through worse. He almost lost his wife to cancer years ago. His wife and his teenage daughter were safe in Rutherford.

Two baby grand pianos gone

On Gail Place, cars sat in driveways with all four doors wide open as residents dried them out. At the end of the street, Marc Ricco, 33, hauled materials out of his sloped driveway.

Marc said he was thrown back when the garage door blew in from the rushing water.

Although the Fire Department came to rescue the family, they chose to stay. Marc’s wife Lynne said the family had prepared with extra pumps, a generator, and sandbags. She had video of the water rushing into their basement.

Among the possessions lost to the storm, two baby grand pianos were destroyed.

“I am hoping this is once in a lifetime,” said Marc. “We will fix it and move on…a lot of people got it worse than we did.”

Adriana Rambay Fernández may be reached at afernandez@hudsonreporter.com.

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