(WABC) — Eight people were killed in flooding across New Jersey, with two others also feared swept away.
Five residents of an apartment complex in Elizabeth were found dead in the aftermath of the flooding, according to a city spokesperson.
Oakwood Plaza is across from the Elizabeth Fire Department headquarters, which was inundated with eight feet of water, destroying fire equipment and apparatus.
Rescuers have been checking the rent roll and going door-to-door through the entire apartment complex to make sure there are no other bodies found.
Mayor Chris Bollage is expected to make remarks later this morning. The city is trying to open a school to house displaced residents.
A person in a car was killed after becoming trapped in six feet of floodwaters in Passaic, after the Passaic River flooded, prompting evacuations of 60 residents to City Hall.
According to a preliminary investigation, firefighters and rescue crews pulled a 26-year-old man and his 66-year-old mother from the submerged car at Passaic Avenue and Lackawanna Place in what the mayor described as a heroic effort but were unable to save their 70-year-old husband and father, who drowned.
“Unfortunately we have confirmed the loss of a life within the city of Passaic and have unconfirmed reports of additional lives that have been lost,” Mayor Hector Lora said.
Describing the rescue effort, Lora said the car was overtaken by water and “firefighters were being dragged down under the vehicle and the vehicle began to float away.”
“We are now dealing with the aftermath in our city. We see vehicles that were abandoned, so many individuals that were injured had to leave property behind,” the mayor said.
Floodwaters were beginning to recede Thursday morning after the river crested at about 5 a.m.
Somerset County confirmed two fatalities from the flooding in two separate incidents in Hillsborough. One was close to the Montgomery border. Investigators are on the scene waiting for the Medical Examiners Office.
Water rescues were underway and people could be seen sitting on their roofs in Cranford. Entire neighborhoods were underwater and rescue crews were using boats to aid people in their evacuation.
Governor Phil Murphy declared a state of emergency in all of New Jersey’s 21 counties. He urged people to stay off the flooded roads.
“An extraordinary, sadly tragic, historic 24 hours in New Jersey. There’s no other way to put it,” Murphy said.
The governor said the state will use every resource at its disposal to ensure the safety of New Jerseyans.
“I’ll close with a pretty obvious statement. But the world is changing right. These storms are coming in more frequently…they’re coming in with more intensity and as it relates to our infrastructure, our resiliency, our whole mindset, the whole playbook that we use, we have got to leap forward and get out ahead of this,” Murphy said.
Paterson Public Schools and several other districts announced they will be closed or opening late Thursday due to severe storms and flooding.
New Jersey state offices also had a three-hour delayed opening on Thursday.
All NJ Transit rail service on the Northeast Corridor, with the exception of the Atlantic City Rail Line, was suspended due to weather-related issues.
The roads remain treacherous with flooding far from abating, including Exit 148 on the Garden State Parkway, where cars are strange and flood waters were high early Friday morning. At Exit 12 on the New Jersey Turnpike, “cars and trucks were everywhere.”