NJ man still seeks answers about vanished house - FOX 10 News | fox10phoenix.com

Superstorm Sandy

NJ man still seeks answers about vanished house

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Nearly a month after we first introduced you to Nick Maria he says he still has no answers about his vanished house in Ortley Beach, N.J.

"All I know is my house is gone," he said. "I know that for a fact. It's the only fact I know."

Fox 5 reported exclusively on Nick's story on December 5. He returned to his summer home in Ortley Beach two weeks after Hurricane Sandy expecting to find some damage... but instead he literally found nothing. His entire home was gone; it vanished with no warning.

"The township didn't know what happened. I called the governor's office and asked the assistant what happened," he said on December 5. "She said to me, 'Are you sure your house is gone?' I said 'Miss, you misplace your pen or pencil. You don't misplace your house.'"

So Nick contacted the New Jersey Department of Transportation, and got a letter saying "The DOT did not remove any structure that was not in the roadway... our objective... was to open the roadways."

Pictures obtained by Fox 5 show Nick's home had shifted off its foundation but it was still in one piece and not in the street. Part of another home was in the street.

The DOT told Fox 5 that "the structure in question... was pushed off its foundation and jammed against another house that had come to rest in the middle of the street. The two houses had sandwiched a utility pole. Our crews did not take down any structure unless it was deemed to be unsafe."

Over the past few weeks, Nick said he has heard several explanations from the DOT.

"First the house was in the street, then it sandwiched a utility pole, then it was on the sidewalk," he said. "The fourth one, most ludicrous, is they found only half my house. As you can see from pictures and videos, my house was whole. It wasn't in half."

After our initial interview aired, Nick's story made national headlines. He even received a phone call directly from DOT Commissioner Joe Simpson.

"He said people tearing the houses down were in tears," Nick said. "Demolition workers were in tears when they were tearing the house down. They felt so bad. I said 'You should've seen how my wife was crying. We couldn't stop her from crying, she was shaking.'"

However, Nick said Simpson offered few answers as to what really happened to his home.

"That's all I want to know. Who made the decision and why was it made?" he said. "I'm not going to stop until I get some answers."

The DOT did not respond to request for comment on this updated story.

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