More should be done to educate the public about the dangers of flash flooding

Date: 2021-09-23 02:36:11

Powerful storms are expected to douse New Jersey in heavy rain on Thursday. The threat has prompted the National Weather Service to issue a flash flood watch for parts of the state.

There are some people in New Jersey who may ignore a flood warning because it doesn’t seem as serious as something like a tornado warning. But following the devastating effects of Ida, this may be changing.

Tornado, hurricane and snow warnings are often taken more seriously. But flash flooding can come quickly, and many may not take the proper precautions until it is too late.

“That whole street was closed down – Bloomfield Avenue and everything that always floods. But we were lucky enough where we dodged a major bullet,” says Matt Saskowitz, of the Denville Dog and Grill.

Saskowitz says that he knows to protect his family business that is located across from the Rockaway River in Denville. But not everyone takes these precautions. During Ida, Morris County received hundreds of 911 calls.

“Busy, busy night for first responders. And quite frankly, there were a lot of people out that shouldn’t have been out during that period of time,” says Jeff Paul, director of the Morris County Office of Emergency Management.

Paul says that Ida was an eye-opener for many. There is already a push to get more first responders trained in water rescue.

“So, we can service a greater good as a region,” Paul says.

Experts say that this is greatly needed. More should be done to make people understand how dangerous flash flooding can be. It happens fast and most people won’t realize it until it is too late.

“This was such an extraordinary event that when you get events like this, it’s impossible to forecast them until they start unfolding,” says state climatologist Dr. David Robinson.

Forecasters predicted more than six inches of rain in spots during Ida. But it was the pace – 3-4 inches of rain an hour – that had the state reeling. Still, there were watches and warnings before the storm.

“We’ll never know how many lives were saved by those warning and emergencies and no doubt many were,” says Robinson.

But he says that it is still unacceptable that so many people died – 30 in all. The death toll was higher than any other state.

Robinson says that another thing that made Ida different was widespread flooding across the state.

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