'Heartbreaking' Cleanup efforts underway in Warren County following major storm damage

Some people were stuck in their homes and businesses have been forced to shut down due to the damage.

Matt Trapani and Naomi Yané

Jul 17, 2023, 10:57 PM

Updated 334 days ago


Cleanup efforts are underway in Warren County after weekend storms caused landslides in the area.
The landslide happened near Route 46 and Brookside Avenue in White Township. Some people were stuck in their homes and businesses have been forced to shut down due to the damage.
Homes remain surrounded by mounds of rocks and dirt. Pieces of the roadway broke into pieces. One resident told News 12 New Jersey that his mother was trapped inside her home after a bridge leading to the house washed away.
“Our family built the house, we built the bridge and it’s heartbreaking because there’s not an easy solution,” says Len Garriques.
Garriques says that the bridge stood for nearly 40 years and came tumbling down, thanks to one storm. The bridge led to the home where Garriques’s 77-year-old mother lives. She was stuck in her home until the family came to get her.
“When I went to go over the bridge, that’s when I realized that the bridge on the far side had fallen into the water,” says Garriques. “Me and a bunch of the guys I work with came over here and built that ramp and got her out on Saturday morning, and when we came after the storm on Sunday morning, this side had collapsed and gone into the water.”
Residents whose homes and businesses were impacted by the landslide Saturday morning said it got bad in a matter of 15 minutes. It first came down the driveway then across Route 46 and over the guardrail to its final resting spot.
Scott Ayers owns and operates nearby Ayers Body Shop. The shop was started by his grandfather 80 years ago. Ayers says he has seen at least four landslides in his lifetime. He says it has never been this bad, and he knows why it happens.
“There’s a tributary that should be flowing east towards Beaver Brook…but what happens is when you get 4 inches of rain in four hours, it rises, it cuts the bank, and it turns to the right and it comes through the train tunnels that are up there,” he says.
Meanwhile, homeowners are considering their next moves.
“We have some alternate options, maybe putting in a temporary bridge while we’re waiting to decide if we can even afford a new one or maybe we can get an alt route in through the farmers' fields that we know,” Garriques says.
Gov. Phil Murphy surveyed some of the damage on Monday morning. He declared a state of emergency Sunday afternoon.

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