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Middlesex County residents fear homes are on the brink of collapsing into creek

Middlesex County residents pleading for help as erosion threatens homes
Middlesex County residents pleading for help as erosion threatens homes 02:21

MIDDLESEX, N.J. -- Homeowners in Middlesex County are pleading for help as their homes are on the brink of falling into the creek behind them.

They told CBS New York's Lisa Rozner a government project has caused erosion, yet no government agencies will take responsibility for it.

The first two decades he lived there, Dave Crawford's Heather Lane yard stayed dry, but almost two years ago during Hurricane Ida, for the first time, it became an extension of the Green Brook behind it.

"It's the amount of water that we're seeing flooding my backyard on a more regular basis. It's erosion we're seeing," Crawford said.

He said the erosion led to one home being condemned in 2022.

Neighbor Ken Beck said he's lost 35 feet of his backyard and his home could be next during this hurricane season.

"You go to bed and you pray and you hope you wake up in the morning and you don't find something else laying in the creek and you have a deck still," he said. "Every storm that we get, I keep losing another 5-6 feet of property."

Less than half a mile away from the homes is a flood wall, which residents say was installed about a decade ago. At first, they say there were no problems.

When a pump station was built two years ago to reduce flooding in nearby Bound Brook, the residents say the direction of the water changed.

"The river used to do like an S-turn, and when they put that pumping station in, it created a volume flow and a current, and it just undercut all the property that wasn't directly in lane with that process, and it just took everything out in its path, and it's going to do that again the next major storm that we get," homeowner Al Platten said.

"There's no banks no more. There's nothing to channel the water," Beck said. "You've got water going left, right, straight."

"Flood insurance won't do anything because we're not actually getting flooded, and homeowners insurance won't do anything because they don't cover acts of erosion," Middlesex resident Kim Haluszka said.

"I'm devastated ... We as public officials, we should have an answer that makes sense and that's timely," Middlesex Mayor John Madden said.

Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman secured federal funds to build a large-scale flood control project that the pump station was part of. She was not available Tuesday for an on-camera interview but told CBS New York, "My office is aware of the erosion along Heather Lane and has been in touch with the mayor, the governor's team and both Sens. Bramnick and Scutari to see if there are resources available to dedicate to this matter. This is a multifaceted issue that needs all levels of government working together from the local to the state to the federal."

She went on to say, "While this area of the Green Brook is outside the sub-basin USACE federal projects and outside the scope of the USACE's authorization, my office will continue to advocate with other federal agencies for mitigation appropriations while working with our state."

"We just get told, oh yeah, we'll take care of it until God forbid the house will then fall in the river," Middlesex resident Kevin Haluszka said.

"I'm afraid I'm not going to be able to sell my house for what it's worth right now. We're all up the creek," Middlesex resident Toni Kijewski said.

"We've reached out to every government organization -- FEMA, OEM, state OEM, Army Corps -- and they said, yeah, we can help, but then next day or two, they say no, we can't help . The borough cannot get involved in private property, that's a big no-no, so the homeowners are left to fend for themselves. We're trying to do the level best we can," Madden said.

Residents said FEMA told them they don't qualify for aid.

CBS New York did reach out to the Army Corps of Engineers for comment, but it did not get back to us Tuesday evening.

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