MANVILLE, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – Dozens of homes in one New Jersey neighborhood are still sitting untouched and left to rot since a destructive storm ripped through.
But the storm in question is not superstorm Sandy, it’s Hurricane Irene, which hit nearly two years ago.
As CBS 2’s Derricke Dennis reported, homes in Manville sit fenced in, boarded up, blocked by downed trees and left empty after being ravaged by Irene.
The Lost Valley neighborhood has been largely forgotten following the 2011 storm.
Irene’s floodwaters heavily damaged so many properties that many homeowners stopped fighting with insurance companies and stopped paying their mortgages.
One home even has “Dear Bank Bye” spray painted on the side.
Those who did not get out at the time said they wish they could now.
“Of course, I would leave this place in a heartbeat,” homeowner Jay Habas told Dennis.
The section of Manville continues to struggle because of the abandoned properties, government red tape and homes too expensive to fix. But the real problem, Dennis reported, is a lack of money.
Manville Mayor Angelo Corradino said the delays have been a perfect storm of their own.
After Irene, some 277 homeowners applied to be bought out. But with only $3.8 million earmarked in state and federal aid, just 15 homes were approved.
The mayor said even that took two years.
“By the time they decide what houses are gonna be bought out and then negotiate with the owners of the price and the buyout sum, it takes a while,” Corradino told Dennis.
Many frustrated residents still in town said the process is taking far too long, leaving them left staring at empty houses, many marked as uninhabitable, others with permanent for sale signs.
“Who’s gonna buy this house, who’s gonna buy anything in a flood plain? And where do you go?” long-time homeowner Elizabeth Chernesky told Dennis.
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