Retaining wall collapses in Fairview; dozens displaced

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Heavy rain and flooding caused a retaining wall to collapse in Fairview and now dozens of people may be permanently displaced.

A major drainage pipe unexpectedly shifted last week, causing storm water to flood the streets near the Fairview Gardens apartment building twice last week. The flooding and collapsing retaining wall forced the apartment residents to evacuate. Officials say that the damage is so extensive that the residents may not be able to return.

Tenants attended a meeting at Fairview Borough Hall Monday afternoon to find out where they are going to be relocated and how much the town is responsible for what happened.

MORE: News 12 New Jersey Weather Center
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“It's not negligent. Too much water came too fast and it's maybe a 100 year old pipe,” says Fairview Mayor Vincent Belucci. “It just unfortunately cracked and created this water flow down Fairview Avenue.”

Fairview Mayor Vincent Belucci says that unfortunately the town does not have the resources to relocate the 30-someodd residents.

The American Red Cross has paid for two nights at a hotel for the residents, but they will need to find alternative housing come Monday night. Bergen County Social Services was on hand at the meeting to provide rental assistance and temporary lodging.

But the question still remains about the structural integrity of the complex. Borough engineer Berge Tombalakian says that the owners are still assessing the damage.

“Earlier today, they outlined what they planned on doing in terms of whether the buildings are safe to occupy or not and that work is going to be ongoing and we will be pressuring the owner to move as fast as possible to get those answers,” he says. 

Many of the tenants tell News 12 New Jersey that they feel frustrated by the whole situation. They say that they are owned their security deposits and a month’s rent. But they say that if they take it, they relinquish their claim to come back to their apartment.

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