As residents are cleaning up from the aftermath of Hurricane Irene, Lake Hopatcong folks can find one piece of good news: the lake level seems to be going back down.
After rising rapidly during the heavy rainfall Saturday night and well into Sunday, the lake blasted through the "high-water" level of 9.5 feet at the dam in the early hours of Sunday, and quickly made its way to nearly a full foot above that, stopping at 10.49 feet for about nine hours before slowly receding. As of Monday afternoon, the lake level had gone down a fraction of an inch to 10.46 feet at the dam.
The last major summer storm, in August 2000, the lake hit its record high of 11.8 feet, more than a foot above the high so far from Hurricane Irene.
On Monday, the skies were clear and lakefront residents were surveying the damage to docks, boathouses, boats, homes, and lawns. At the Main Lake Market on Prospect Point, there was flooding of about 4 inches throughout the store, and the docks were completely underwater. Similar scenes of flooding and underwater docks were visible throughout the lake community. (Click here to see a collection of photos submitted by readers.)
Residents had reason to be nervous about further flooding when the Saffin Pond dam failed and the Lake Shawnee dam was compromised. Though the breach added more water to Lake Hopatcong, the imminent threat was deemed over by Jefferson police by mid-day Sunday.
Power continues to be out for residents in all four towns around the lake, as downed trees have taken their toll on electricity lines and structures. But the forecast for the next week or so is relatively dry, with just a chance of thunderstorms on Thursday and later in the holiday weekend.
State Police could not say when they thought the lake would return to normal levels, and the "no wake" restriction would be lifted. Calls to the Lake Hopatcong Commission have not yet been returned, but an increased outflow from the Lake Hopatcong dam began on Friday in anticipation of the storm.