2 missing in Passaic flooding; witness recounts water washing them away

New Jersey

PASSAIC, N.J. — Two people remain missing in Passaic after being overcome by floodwaters from Tropical Storm Ida.

Passaic resident Lady Torres said she felt helpless, crying from her second floor window as she saw the two people get taken by a rush of water along Main Avenue during Wednesday night’s torrential storms.

“When they got to the middle of the street, they got out of the car,” she recounted. “And I don’t know if they were trying to take a video but the car just started moving and the current was so strong it just swept everyone away.”

Those two individuals — described only as a man and woman between the ages of 18 and 21 — were still missing Thursday afternoon. 

They were later identified as Nidhi and Ayush Rana by family and friends, desperate to find their loved ones.

Officials said their car and phones have been recovered, but the search and rescue mission continues.

One theory is that the pair was swept into a nearby storm drain which empties out into the Passaic River.

“We want to be strategic and specific with our efforts because we also want to preserve the lives of our emergency responders, our firefighters, our divers,” Passaic Mayor Hector Lora said. 

At the height of the downpour triggered by remnants of Tropical Storm Ida, the city of Passaic reported its first causality: a 70-year-old man who was a passenger in a car that was overcome with water.

First responders were able to rescue his 66-year-old wife and 25-year-old son.

Officials are still wrapping their heads around the power of Wednesday‘s storm, which transformed streets into rivers in some cases five feet high.

“In my 35 years I’ve seen a lot of storms, I’ve worked all through Sandy,” homeowner Faiga Hager said. “The intensity of what developed over our area I’ve never seen.”

A surge of water not only ravaged her newly renovated basement, but it brought fragments of a tennis court from nearby memorial park to her lawn.

“This is devastating, everything down there is just gone,” she said of her basement. “It’s down to the rafters that were there to begin with.”

Late Thursday, Gov. Phil Murphy toured the city, surveying the damage and speaking to those impacted.

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