Mother and children rescued from Newark floodwaters

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NEWARK, N.J. (PIX11) — It may be mid-June in the tri-state, but it feels more like Seattle in the autumn.

The gray, overcast skies, and generally wet conditions of Monday are going to predominate for the rest of the week, and along with that situation comes potentially hazardous weather.

Some people who learned that firsthand were a family and a worker in Newark who had to be rescued from flood waters by first responders.

On Meeker Avenue, just east of the railway underpass, waters quickly rose chest high Monday morning, after a sudden cloudburst began around 9:00 A.M. The driver of a white minivan, a mother who identified herself only as Tanya, ended up driving into the waters before they reached maximum depth.

In the vehicle with her were her five children, ranging in age from two to thirteen.

“What would cause you to put yourself and your kids at risk like this?” asked Angela Cottle, an eyewitness who works at Josloff Glass Company, which is located next to the underpass, and which took on about three feet of flood water itself.

She said that there had been another car ahead of the minivan that had gotten stranded, and that the minivan driver continued ahead anyway.

That driver and all five of her children were given shelter from the rain in the glass company warehouse until they found other transportation. The minivan will require quite a lot of work before it’s able to run again.

Its stranding scene was by no means the only one near Newark’s Weequahic Park. Over a three block area, the flood waters rose up to six feet in depth over the course of a couple of hours, and then receded just as quickly

. During that time, however, concern rose as high as the water itself.

“I thought we were gonna need an ark for a minute,” said Carleton Jones, a resident who lives near the park. “It was crazy this morning, yeah.”

Two blocks northeast of the Meeker Avenue underpass is the Freilinghuysen Avenue Underpass, where the water was even deeper. Police had to keep all traffic out from the area, and even semi-trailers did not brave the bottomless water until it started to visibly recede.

In order for that to happen, Newark city workers had to clear out clogged drains in the area. They could not do that, however, without first making sure they didn’t have to rescue more people.

One of those workers, though, had to be rescued himself, after an apparent accident. He was taken away in an ambulance in what appeared to be stable condition.

The lesson overall is that sudden rain that ends up ponding is not to be taken lightly, especially when the current weather conditions are expected to persist, off and on, for the next four days, at least.

“I know,” said Cottle. “It’s not going to be a good week.”

The sudden floodwaters apparently also disturbed an underground gas line. Multiple calls were made to 911 reporting a strong natural gas odor on Meeker Avenue near the Weequahic Park entrance, shortly after the waters began to recede.