A flooded street in Wayne, N.J. from Hurricane Irene
Inland flooding is often the greatest threat from hurricanes that strike the U.S. Here, Hurricane Irene flooded a street in Wayne, New Jersey. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

The Passaic River in northern New Jersey crested Tuesday morning and forced mandatory evacuations.

Rising flood levels along the Passaic River has caused evacuations in one borough, with a lingering threat for more, possibly evacuating as many as 4,000 people from the city of Paterson, reports NBC New York.

National Guard and firefighters rescued hundreds people from record flooding in New Jersey on Tuesday and Vermont planned to airlift food and water to inland towns cut off by Hurricane Irene, reported Reuters on Tuesday.

Search and rescue teams have rescued around 600 people from the flood, when the river rose to 13 feet above flood stage in Paterson, a record level since 1903, said Paterson police Sgt. Alex Popov. Some are standing there in the doorway. Some are coming out of their windows, said Popov, explaining that people were rescued by boat and truck and taken to a Red Cross shelter.

In East Rutherford, no mandatory evacuations were issued. Residents were rather forced to clean their houses again, due to the river's overflow.

The river is expected to start receding later on Tuesday.

New Jersey officials asked President Barack Obama to quickly declare the state to be a major disaster area.

Hurricane Irene was a catastrophe of enormous severity and magnitude and the storm conditions required emergency shelters to be established in 16 counties to house nearly 16,000 evacuees, while over 700,000 residences suffered power outages, according to Gov. Chris Christie's office.

Torrential rains have caused significant flooding in areas across the state, impacting residences, major and local roads, and necessitating highway closures and a suspension of rail services. Recovery efforts are still ongoing in the aftermath of the disaster.

U.S. Senators Frank R. Lautenberg and Robert Menendez also expressed concerns for the extent of the damage caused by Hurricane Irene, and requested for a Major Disaster Declaration for New Jersey, federal recovery and rebuilding aid.