‘Gov. Murphy, where are you?’ Manville residents told state won’t pay to raise their homes
Manville residents at risk from flood damage will no longer have the option to raise their homes with help from the state. Those residents are being told that they must foot the bill or move away.
It’s been over two years since Hurricane Ida touched down in New Jersey. Residents like those in Manville are still getting back on their feet. They say they have yet again had the rug pulled from under them with this recent policy change.
“Two and a half years later, Gov. [Phil] Murphy, where are you? You haven’t helped me or my neighbors,” says Manville resident Eric Vaughn. “We’re still struggling, where’s the help?”
News 12 first met Vaughn and his two sons in September of 2021 – a month after Hurricane Ida. The family had been displaced and living in a hotel room. They were facing a hotel bill of more than $3,000. They were told FEMA would pay for it. Following their hotel stay Vaughn and his family lived in an RV in the driveway of their flood-ravaged home.
“I couldn’t find an apartment and apartments are way too expensive to rent and we were there until November of last year,” says Vaughn.
A new state policy was announced last summer and was approved by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development in December. It leaves homeowners in the area with what they say are limited options to either repair their homes and hope they don’t get flooded again, elevate their homes on their own dime or accept a Blue Acres buyout. Vaughn is calling out the governor for betraying them.
“They swore up and down that they were going to help us and a week after getting the letter that we were approved…everybody got that email that they’re reappropriating funds because we’re too high-risk,” says Vaughn.
Manville Mayor Richard Onderko said he was willing to cut a deal with the state and wanted the New Jersey State Office of Emergency Management, Department of Environmental Protection and the Blue Acres program to reconsider funding elevating homes outside of the “Lost Valley” area of Manville, which is the hardest hit.
“They absolutely refused to even discuss the issue…They think it’s too dangerous to live here, but in Ida and other events, we never had a loss of life,” the mayor says.
Vaughn says he can’t sell his home in good faith knowing it floods and he and his family continue to hope the state reconsiders.
News 12 has reached out to the Murphy administration for comment and is waiting for a response.