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.