New Jersey pulls funding for Manville homeowners to lift homes, prevent flooding

Anthony Johnson Image
Monday, January 22, 2024
NJ homeowners in flood-prone areas dealt another dilemma
Anthony Johnson has more from Manville.

MANVILLE, New Jersey (WABC) -- The fear of another flooding catastrophe was amplified Monday for a town in New Jersey after learning the state is pulling its funding for owners to lift their homes to prevent them from constantly flooding.

The work to elevate a home is expensive, tedious and time consuming, but it may be the only way residents in a particular section of Manville known as the "Lost Valley" can remain in the neighborhood.

Homeowners say they were caught off guard when told that they will not receive grant funds to help raise their homes.

"If I'm elevated, I don't have any issues. My first floor doesn't get four feet of water if my home is elevated, and we can literally just evacuate before the water comes and then come back when the water recedes," said Manville homeowner Eric Vaughn.

Vaughn's house had to be totally renovated after Hurricane Ida dropped some 10 inches of rain in a short period of time. Four feet of water rushed into his home.

He lived in an RV in his driveway while the repairs were being done. Now the state says they will buy him out, but Vaughn says the settlement will leave him struggling to find another place to live.

"There's not enough room for me in this market to go and buy another house with the interest rates the way they are the pricing of houses right now, and took them two years to even give me an offer," Vaughn said.

The mayor says many people want to stay in Manville and he feels the residents of his town have gotten a raw deal from the state.

"Disaster recovery needs to be sped up in this country for situations like this," said Manville Mayor Richard Onderko. "Two and a half years later and we're still waiting? It's unacceptable."

Nearly 70 families will be impacted by the decision to buy out homes rather than paying for raising them. The area was visited by President Joe Biden following Ida. Residents say a lot of promises were made but never kept.

"The state just doesn't want to manage an elevation program," Onderko said.

The State Department of Community Affairs issued this statement:

"First and foremost, public safety is the primary driver of the policy. Unfortunately, in the areas of Manville subject to this policy, there is a demonstrated inability to safely evacuate people during flood events like Hurricane Ida."

The mayor says that if the homeowners do not return to Manville, the town could lose about $2 million in property tax revenue.


* Get Eyewitness News Delivered

* More New Jersey news

* Send us a news tip

* Download the abc7NY app for breaking news alerts

* Follow us on YouTube

Submit a tip or story idea to Eyewitness News

Have a breaking news tip or an idea for a story we should cover? Send it to Eyewitness News using the form below. If attaching a video or photo, terms of use apply.