Holly Fordham

Holly’s Story

In December of 2019 my husband and I purchased our first  home together aer searching for years. We moved to Manville  – the lost valley – because we found our dream home – which  even had a pool! We moved from Middlesex county and were  very excited to start our next chapter together in our new  home.  

On September 1st, 2021 it was a regular weeknight. My  husband and I had dinner. I had checked the water level in the  pool and decided it could wait to be lowered the next morning.  Aer a few tornado warnings we went to bed to only be woken  up at midnight by the sound of a siren. I didn’t know what it  meant so I looked online and was told that we should move our  cars since there was going to be flooding.  

Aer we moved the cars, we saw other people walking back  into the valley, so we figured we were safe to do the same. Aer  falling asleep for a few hours, I was woken up again by flashing  lights outside my bedroom window, right on the bridge. I  quickly noced a wet spot when I put my foot on the floor and  noced my cat who sleeps downstairs was staring at me. Her  fur was also wet! Then I looked out the window – through the  trees I noced there were Emergency responders set up at the  corner. I tried to rush downstairs, but it was too late – water  was already in my home on the 1st floor and already up to the  third step on the second staircase in our home. 

I woke up my husband to tell him what was happening, but he  didn’t believe me when I said there was water in our home. At  this point outside the water was up to the top of our 6 foot  fence outside, and we knew we couldn’t walk out with our cats  because they’d get wet. I screamed out from the second floor  that we needed to be rescued. We tried to grab the most  important things, but honestly we didn’t know what to take  with us since we were in shock. An hour and a half later, it was  finally me for the boat rescue to pick us up, and at this point  the water was 4 feet high. Thank goodness for the fireman that  had us turn off our electric and gas on our way out.  

We le our home by boat and were then taken by a van to our  local VFW which was set up as a shelter. We needed to figure  out our next move. Fortunately we had flood insurance, so I  called the insurance office and found out that we had lodging  and displacement coverage. We booked a hotel room, but the  next challenge was to get someone to pick us up and take us  out of Manville so we could get there. The enre process took  from 7 am to 4 pm – since the only way into Manville was from  Rt 206.  

We had never been in a flood before, and didn’t have any  knowledge or informaon about what to do next. Social media  was helpful, and we found out the next day that the water  receded early in the morning. Someone kindly posted a video of  our house since it’s right on the bridge where most people  enter and exit the town. 

So we came home – and found out the house had experienced 5  feet of flooding. Everything on the first floor was destroyed. We  lost both our home and our workplace since we both had been  working from home due to Covid.  

The insurance company didn’t give us much direcon when we  called them again. In fact, our neighbors who had flooded  before gave us more info than the insurance company. They  advised us to rip out and remove all of our damaged belongings  from the first floor so they didn’t collect mold.  

We piled everything we ripped out on the front lawn, and it was  sll there when the president came to visit Manville – he went  to the house that burned down cay corner from where we  live. He said a lot of nice things when he was here – but at this  point we feel forgoen.  

While we were able to rebuild and be home within three  months; we sll have many repairs that need to be done which  were not covered by insurance or any programs available to  storm survivors. This gap remains on us as a financial burden.  

Most recently, I received two emails from the state advising me  that my home is high risk and not eligible for funding. This hit  hard. Our opons are now very limited. Either we sell our  home that we love or take a buy out – rather than get  assistance to stay in our home. For us to raise our home and  stay we’d have to pay out of pocket which would add on to our 

exisng financial burden which is not an opon and will never  be an opon.  

What I want to know is why the heck did the policy change aer  we all wasted our me filling out mulple applicaons? I had  hoped for over a year that I would get funding to raise my home  to stay home and be safe. While we are home, we are NOT safe  nor properly prepared for the next storm. 

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