Highlands, NJ- A home that had been damaged in Superstorm Sandy collapsed while being lifted above the floodplain this morning, destroying an adjoining home in the process. No one was injured. Both homes will be torn down this afternoon.
Borough Engineer Dale Leubner said that the cribbing, the wood palates piled to hold the structure while lifting takes place, apparently failed on one corner of the home, causing the collapse.
No one was home in either property. Leubner said that residents of the neighborhood were evacuated. Fire Departments from Asbury Park, Middletown and Naval Weapons Station Earle were on hand to assist the Highlands Volunteer Fire Department in preventing further property damage or injury. Utility workers from JCP&L and New Jersey Natural Gas were on hand to shut off the utilities in preparation of the demolitions.
Steven Hasenfus, President of Hasenfus Construction, the company hired to lift the Locust Ave home said, “It was an accident.” Hasenfus declined to comment further. Hasenfus Construction has offices in Long Branch and in Plymouth, MA. Hasenfus’s LinkedIn profile says he’s from the Great Boston area.
Mayor Nolan thanked the Highlands first responders, and those from the neighboring communities who arrived to assist and urged homeowners who are rebuilding and raising their home to be careful. “Thank God no one was hurt. This should be a cautionary tale for homeowners to be sure they hire qualified contractors and that those contractors have adequate insurance.”
Patricia Parker, President of the Highlands Fire Department’s Ladies Auxilary, said that homeowners who are lifting their homes should be sure to remove all valuable possession and important papers.
The owner of the home that collapsed is traveling out of state. Friends and family are on the scene waiting to recover whatever possession are in the home after it is demolished.
The adjoining home has been abandoned since Hurricane Irene devastated the borough in 2011.