South Bound Brook residents living in flood-ravaged apartments desperate to find new places to live

A desperate search for a new place to live is underway for some renters and owners almost two weeks since the remnants of Hurricane Ida devastated their South Bound Brook apartments.

News 12 Staff

Sep 14, 2021, 10:57 PM

Updated 940 days ago

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A desperate search for a new place to live is underway for some renters and owners almost two weeks since the remnants of Hurricane Ida devastated their South Bound Brook apartments.
"I'm just trying to piece it together. It's like, 'Oh my God,' and I'm not the only one. I mean, look at how many people. I think there were 30 apartments destroyed in here," said Jerry Colavita inside his flood ravaged apartment in the Finchley Gardens complex. It's been where he has spent the last 10 nights sleeping, on a mat on a hard wood floor that is buckling from water damage.
Outside his door, a section of the complex looks like a ghost town. Most of the tenants are gone and are staying in hotels or with family.
Left behind, amid the choking dust that washed in the apartments as mud, are those with nowhere to go.
The second week after a flood is often when the mold sets in, and the promises made by the officials and politicians in the days after the storm can start to feel as soggy as the Sheetrock.
"I don't know what I'm going to do. I don't know what I'm going to do and my son is in school," said Hanan Sanduqa, who lives in a flood-damaged apartment with her 16-year-old son.
She lost her job at Macy's due to the pandemic and her unemployment just ran out. She applied for FEMA aid two days after the storm but has not heard anything.
"And I keep calling. Sometimes I have now a bad attitude because I need someone to help me. They just talk. They just talk and no one helps," Sanduqa said.
Tenants have been told they need to be out by the end of the month so repairs can be made.
Their leases have been voided, and on Tuesday, a property manager walked around with a pile of checks, returning people's security deposits.
For Colavita, a part-time security guard on disability from a botched kidney stone operation that put him in coma, that means two more weeks living and sleeping in squalor if the mold doesn't drive him out first. He said he has no other choice or place to go, so the apartment is where he will stay.
Colavita and others are plunging headlong into an emergency search for an apartment, along with thousands of other flood victims, in one of the tightest, most expensive housing markets in the country.
"Right now, I don't have any place to live," said Janice Copeland, whom firefighters on a boat rescued on the night of the storm.
In the meantime, tenants in second-floor apartments and other sections of the complex are able to remain in their homes.


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