Middlesex County residents worry erosion could make their homes collapse
Some residents in Middlesex County say that ongoing erosion could cause their homes to collapse.
Ken Beck has lived on Heather Lane in Middlesex for 14 years. Over the past decade, he says he has watched his backyard slowly disappear.
"Every time we get a flood, the water rises up and another five, 10 feet of property is eroded,” he said. "Every time it rains, my wife and my family live in fear."
Beck says it has been an issue since the U.S. Army Corps of Engineering built a wall and pumping station upstream in an effort to reduce flooding. He says that redirected how water travels down the brook.
“Over 10 years ago when they started the flood project, we went to the meetings. He said, ‘what we're doing will not have any impact on you.’ And now today, I'm being told to put a wall behind my house,” he said.
Beck says he would have to pay for that wall himself.
It is too late to save the home next door to Beck. Mayor John Madden says the borough was forced to condemn it last year after a sinkhole formed and erosion reached the building.
“These houses are all going to be affected, and we have two other cul-de-sacs that back up to the Green Brook, and the same thing is going to happen. We can't stand by and watch this happen,” he said.
Since the borough has no way to address the issue, Madden says he and the residents reached out to state and federal lawmakers.
State Sen. Jon Bramnick toured the area earlier in the year. He says the problem will likely require federal assistance.
"Even if I was to get the funding, we'd have to go back to the Army Corps of Engineers because they're the ones who have the expertise,” he said.
Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman told News 12 that the area does not fall under the Army Corps of Engineering Authorization. She declined a request for an interview. However, she made a statement which said in part:
"My office is aware of the erosion along Heather Lane and has been in touch with the Mayor, the Governor's team and both Senators Bramnick and Scutari to see if there are resources available to dedicate to this matter. This is a multifaceted issue that needs all levels of government working together from the local to the state to the federal."
As time goes by, Middlesex residents say they feel frustrated and helpless.
"You pay a significant amount of taxes in New Jersey and Middlesex County, or Middlesex borough. You try to invest it in your house. Now all of a sudden, the value of your house has dropped,” said Al Platten.
Madden has told News 12 that he is calling for federal funds to help implement a fix that residents would not have to pay for.