Flood washes away cars — Why is mayor blaming dealership?
LITTLE FALLS — Woodland Park Mayor Keith Kazmark is blaming a car dealership for causing flooding in his town.
The Route 46 Chrysler Jeep Dodge in Little Falls was the victim of Saturday's torrential rains, which caused the Peckman River to overflow and wash away the cars in the lot. The incident was captured on video.
Kazmark wrote in a Facebook post that the cars "worsened the situation tremendously" by creating a dam as they piled against a bridge.
Dealership owner Frank Esposito told New Jersey 101.5's Steve Trevelise on Tuesday that his heart bleeds for his business' neighbors but said he has video that shows the bridge was not blocked by his cars.
"This water came up so fast and so hard like we've never seen," Esposito said, adding that there was no time to move the vehicles.
Esposito said that he's been in the same location since 2008 and has had to deal with flooding before. But this time was unprecedented.
"There was nothing we could have done. The water was 4 feet deep. The cars were flying from one end of the lot to the other. The dumpsters were in the middle of the highway," Esposito said.
His immediate goal is to reopen the dealership and get his 135 employees back to work. They all brought mops, brooms, buckets and tools to the dealership on Sunday morning with their families to help clean up the damage.
"I am the luckiest man on the Earth that no one got hurt and that I have such good employees that are so loyal and dedicated that want to work and want to be there," he said.
Esposito said he is partially covered by insurance but "this will be a very, very, very, very expensive loss for me. I will have to take out a loan to subsidize this."
The cars will not be put up for sale. Instead, the vehicles will all be "totaled" by the insurance company and the titles will be branded as a "flood car" and be sold to scrap companies.
Torrential rains on Saturday flooded out the Woodland Park and Little Falls area. Another slow moving storm on Monday left up to 8 inches in the Brick area that led to the evacuation of a retirement community.