Mounds of garbage confront Lambertville, NJ residents after Ida’s wrath
LAMBERTVILLE – As the cleanup continues from the flooding caused by the remnants of Hurricane Ida, residents in one Hunterdon County community are still shaking their heads in disbelief about what happened to them.
Joe Shoemaker, a resident of Lambertville for 43 years, sat on his front porch Tuesday afternoon, staring blankly at mounds of his mud-caked ruined belongings piled high in large, black plastic bags in front of his home on Ferry Street.
“It looked like the Mississippi River coming down this street for about four hours. It came up to here and started coming into my living room. My cellar has 10 feet of water – the worst ever, ever, ever,” he said.
Shoemaker said he's concerned that weather conditions like Ida will happen more often.
“They say every hundred years flood, right? I think you take the last zero off it and make it every ten years, and maybe every four years after that, with this climate change the way it is. It’s frightening,” Shoemaker said.
Down the street from Shoemaker, Mike Menche said he and his family were in their first floor TV room, keeping an eye on the weather, when all of a sudden “it went from nothing, just rain, to a raging lake of our entire neighborhood."
Just as he told his kids it was time to leave, water started rushing in all over.
He said when the room started filling with water, panic set in, especially when he thought of his 9- and 7-year old children.
"You feel for the kids. They’ve never been through this and the main thought is we wanted to get them safe and get ourselves safe,” Menche said.
He said within minutes the entire basement was flooded.
“It was completely inundated, then there’s about a foot of flooring and then above that we took about four feet of water in our first floor, so all told we had about eleven feet of water,” said Menche.
He said his family fled to a car parked on higher ground that was already partially flooded, but the engine started and they were able to drive out of town.
John Barbie’s home was also quickly flooded from the storm.
“We just barely got out because the water, it was a flash flood and it just came running in,” he said.
Barbie said for much of the next day his wife was on Union Street directing traffic so cars would not drive into the flooded section of roadway.
Menche said ten years ago, during Hurricane Irene, his home was also flooded, but the buildup of water was not as fast, nor as muddy.
He said his family was grateful for the cleanup help from an army of volunteers who showed up out of the blue at the beginning of the week.
Menche said the family intends to fix the damage and stay in Lambertville, “but we’re hoping this never happens again.”
Shoemaker said he’s thought about leaving town on several occasions because of flooding issues, “but it’s such a nice place," adding that he likes that it's quiet and that crime is low.
Lambertville Mayor Julia Fahl said the storm quickly turned into something that no one was prepared for.
“Every single one of our waterways, every creek, every river breached its banks. We were watching water pour over major bridges,” Fahl said.
She noted there had been fears about the rising Delaware River causing a new round of flooding the day after the remnants of Ida moved out of New Jersey, but fortunately the river only crested about 6 inches higher than flood stage, causing only minor flooding in some parking lots.
Fahl said early on it was clear this was a once in a lifetime type of storm that will take months to recover from.
You can contact reporter David Matthau at firstname.lastname@example.org.