Homeowners in flood-prone NJ town offered buyouts

September 14, 2011 3:16:57 PM PDT
If you can't hear the frustration, you can at least see it.

"Buy me out... 7 times is enough!" written on a destroyed mattress.

Or this one, "dear bank... Bye."

People in the lost valley section of Manville are literally walking away from their homes, and hoping the government will pay them to do it.

But for Arlene Miller it might not be that simple. She just got her gas service back today. Out for two weeks, her foundation is destroyed.

Manville will be participating in a government buyout program, but qualifying for it is another matter.

Gary Garwacke is the borough administrator. He would like to help everyone, but he knows that most likely will not be the case.

When Floyd hit in 1999, 500 people asked for a buyout. Only 38 got one.

This time, with a third of all homes affected here, the need will be even greater.

"It's just a matter of time to figure out whose foundation will fail next," Lisa Fallon said.

She is trying to clean her house up. It sits just across from Millstone River.

Her parents own this home and another a few blocks away. They have been flooded now a half dozen times. They applied in 1999 and were denied.

"My parents didn't make it to list a last time, so I hope that our list B will be list A this time," Fallon said.

So while these guys try desperately to rebuild the foundation of this home, the reality is even if everyone gets bought out, those left behind will have to shoulder the added tax burden and suffer cuts in service. The quickest anyone would find out if they made the list is six months. It will be a year before they see a check.

FEMA awarded New Jersey $48.3 million to fund buyouts, raise elevations and other flood mitigation projects. Nearly $40 million would buy 200 homes in Lambertville, Lincoln Park, Little Falls, Neptune, Nutley, Pompton Lakes, Ocean and Wayne.