Manalapan family living in nightmare situation due to constant flooding of their home
Delays and red tape in a federally-funded program are keeping one New Jersey family stuck in a home that has become unlivable.
Looking from the outside, one would not know what is going on inside of the Manalapan home. But the family that lives on Birmingham Drive says that they are living in a nightmare situation.
George and Janell Willis say they have lived in the home since March 2019. In almost three years they have lived through three floods. Their home is now partially gutted.
“It’s very traumatic to come into a home that you’ve just purchased and you have dreams of spending the rest of your lives here,” says George.
The couple says it was never disclosed that their home is in a flood-prone zone. They say they were only told that there was water damage that has long been repaired.
“Three months later, you’re in a truck being rescued by firefighters and you’re finding out that the home you purchased had previous flooding on multiple occasions,” says George.
The home and several of the homes in the famiy’s neighborhood are part of the Blue Acres Floodplain Acquisitions program. It’s federally funded and the government buys homes from homeowners who live in flood-prone areas, using the land for recreation and preservation purposes. However, the Willis family is stuck between a rock and a hard place. Their ceiling recently caved in. They can't open an insurance claim to make repairs without jeopardizing their status with the Blue Acres program.
“It could take another year for us to get out if we choose to take the insurance that we’re entitled to fix the damage,” says George.
The family is now forced to live in horrific and possibly dangerous conditions while they wait for a closing date form Blue Acres on their home.
“It's been the hardest three years. We're basically just living in this nightmare over and over again,” says Janelle. “Every time we fix something, we get to the next thing and we go backwards and it's no way to live.”
Just behind the Willis home sits Pine Brook, the primary source of their flooding problems. Any time that water level goes up, the water goes right into their home. They're hoping to be able to move on from this sooner rather than later. News 12 reached out to Department of Environmental Protection but has not yet received a response.