New Jersey residents fight to return home more than 1 year after Hurricane Ida
There are some New Jersey residents who are still recovering more than a year after Hurricane Ida left a path of destruction around the state.
A single father tells News 12 New Jersey that he is fighting for his home and that the real disaster is the lack of communication that followed the storm.
“The recovery process has been brutal,” says Eric Vaughan.
Vaughn is the father to two boys. They have all been living out of an RV in his driveway since the storm.
Ida swept across New Jersey on Sept. 21, 2021. It left behind chaos and destruction. Residents in Manville were told to evacuate ahead of flash flood warnings.
“When I came back a couple of days later, my whole life was gone. Everything was gone,” Vaughan says. “Destruction. It literally threw my refrigerator upside down. The power – the water was about 4 feet on the first floor.”
Vaughan says getting help has been a disaster as well. After receiving a substantial damage letter, he was given two options – a Blue Acres buyout or proceeding with an elevation program. He chose the elevation program through the state but says other than $8,000 he received from Federal Emergency Management Agency to be used for replacing home contents, he still hasn’t gotten any additional assistance.
“I’m not refurnishing, rebuilding my home only to get flooded again while I’m waiting to get the grant I need to elevate and have a safe home,” Vaughan says.
FEMA disaster assistance applications for Ida are now closed, but Vaughan says that the people who still need help are being forgotten.
“[President Joe] Biden came here to Manville and made his cameo after the storm and yet people are not recovered,” he says.
Vaughn’s future remains unclear. He says that he plans to continue to fight for additional funding.
FEMA says 181 households across the state were receiving continued temporary housing assistance up until recently. The deadline for those households to reapply was March 5.
News 12 has reached out to the Department of Consumer Affairs regarding the elevation program and where funding for it stands. A spokesperson says they are looking into the request for information.