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Fairfield Remains Under Water; Receives Visit from Governor

Residents evacuate, businesses shuttered, roads closed.

The Passaic River may have crested, but flood conditions remain in Fairfield, and unfortunately for many of the town residents, this is a road they have traveled on too many times.

What was unusual, however, was a visit from Governor Chris Christie, who visited residents and rescue workers in besieged areas of both Fairfield and Wayne on Tuesday afternoon.

In addition to speaking to residents, Christie did tour homes and witnessed firsthand the damage caused by Hurricane Irene.

For some residents, the flood damage was all too familiar. "I have been dealing with this since Hurricane Floyd in 1999," claimed J.J. McNamara, a 22-year-old college student, adding this is the sixth major flood he has experienced.

McNamara usually resides with his parents at 15 Fairfield Court in Fairfield. However, the family evacuated last Saturday afternoon to La Quinta Inn on Route 46, along with many other Fairfield residents.

McNamara said the hotel is booked to capacity, and roads leading to the hotel are now flooded.

MacNamara did return home to assess damage on Monday. "I have never seen water levels this high," he said. 

While his family has experienced many floods, McNamara said flooding has now reached Fairfield homes outside of the typical flood zones. 

For McNamara and his parents, the evacuation seems like deja vu, as they were forced to evacuate in. "I feel sorry for my parents.  They have gone through a lot," he said.

While the family would like to move, McNamara said, "That is easier said than done. No one wants to buy a house in a flood zone."  As for receiving a government buyout, the home did not qualify based upon government criteria.

In addition to being forced to evacuate, McNamara was also upset at the loss of business at the store where he is employed, Family Christian Book Stores, on Rt. 46 in Fairfield.

"They closed at 1 p.m. on Sunday. So far, they have been closed for three days. Many of the clientele are from out of town. This is a big loss," he commented.

According to the town's website, businesses were advised to shut down on Monday afternoon. The only access currently into and out of Fairfield is Sand Road to Route 80. The town is only open to Fairfield residents with ID's checked at the re-entry point.

AnnaMarie Fusaro, the operations director for Mennekes Electrical Products, managed to get to her office at 277 Fairfield Road from her West Caldwell home on Monday morning, only to leave soon after arriving.

"Once we heard the town was being closed to everyone except Fairfield residents, we sent all employees home. We are waiting for a reverse 911 from Fairfield to let us know when we can return," Fusaro stated.

Tommy Stiglianl, the plant manager for Parker Labs on Eldridge Road in Fairfield, made the decision on Sunday night to shut down operations for Monday. Now, he said, it looks like business is closed indefinitely.

Parker Labs manufactures gel used for ultrasounds and employs 40 people in Fairfield.

While businesses and residents ponder when they can return, for McNamara, one thing is certain. "2011 has not been a good year," he stated.

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