Attorney: Complex Evacuated Due To Rockslide Will Be Razed

WEST ORANGE, N.J. (AP) — A New Jersey apartment complex from which 45 families were abruptly evacuated due to a rockslide stemming from the remnants of Hurricane Ida will be demolished, according to the lawyer representing the property owner.

Attorney Steven Eisenstein handed evacuees checks for returned security deposits, October's rent and an extra $1,250 per unit to help cover relocation costs during a community meeting Thursday, NJ.com reported.

Eisenstein said three engineering firms had recommended to owner John Jakimowicz that the Ron Jolyn Apartments in West Orange be demolished. “It’s not that he has any choice,” Eisenstein said.

The red brick garden apartment complex was evacuated late Monday hours after a township employee opened an email sent Friday night warning that a steep, rocky slope behind the apartments was unstable and could result in property damage and “possible loss of life.”

Mayor Robert Parisi said the township would go on paying for the hotel accommodations of evacuees while they sought new permanent housing.

Evacuees voiced anger and frustration with the evacuation conducted from 10 p.m. Monday to 1 a.m. Tuesday with no warning to tenants who had little time to gather what belongings they could carry. Parisi acknowledged that the evacuation “was done poorly.”

A Federal Emergency Management Agency team was taking applications for relocation and other assistance from evacuees who may be eligible for FEMA help following Essex County’s declaration as a federal disaster area in the wake of the storm.

A rockslide at the base of the slope after Ida's remnants swept through the area damaged several parked cars and the complex itself. An analysis by an engineering firm warned of the risk of further failure that “would likely result in significant property damage and possible loss of life.”