2005-07-21 / Front Page

Hill of mud takes a dip in Monroe family’s pool

BY SETH MANDEL Staff Writer

BY SETH MANDEL
Staff Writer

Sunday’s storm caused a mudslide, covering the backyard and filling in the pool of Don and Tina Albach, Monroe. 
Sunday’s storm caused a mudslide, covering the backyard and filling in the pool of Don and Tina Albach, Monroe. MONROE — While flood waters covered parts of Jamesburg, Helmetta and Spotswood, a township family dealt with a disaster confined to their own backyard.

Don and Tina Albach, residents of Dayna Drive in Monroe, watched Sunday night as a hill on their property collapsed, filling in an in-ground pool and covering their entire yard in several feet of mud.

“It was like Niagara Falls. The water just kept coming. The mud was coming down so fast, and going into the patio, and then into the pool, and then the earth just caved in,” Tina Albach said.

PHOTOSBYMIGUELJUAREZstaff
The ladder is all that can be seen of the Albachs’ in-ground pool after Sunday’s mudslide. 
PHOTOSBYMIGUELJUAREZstaff The ladder is all that can be seen of the Albachs’ in-ground pool after Sunday’s mudslide. Her three children and her daughter’s friend had been swimming in the pool when it started to rain. She told the kids to get out of the pool and come inside the house — not a moment too soon.

She said she could see mud dripping from the hill shortly after it began to rain.

“Never thinking this would happen; I just wanted them to come in from the rain,” Albach said. “And before you know it, from the top of the hill, it was just a waterfall.”

The mudslide took her neighbor’s tree and fence along as it careened toward the house.

Having no idea when the mudslide would stop, Albach immediately called for help.

“I saw the hill starting to collapse and I didn’t know what to do,” she said. “I called 911, and I said, ‘Help, my hill is sliding into my backyard. Could somebody please come and help me?’

When firefighters arrived, Albach was told that her family had a few minutes to gather their belongings and leave the house.

“Grabbing every important thing in my life, that alone was very stressful,” she said.

Albach put her kids in the car, grabbed every photo album and video she had of the kids, her daughter’s American Girl doll and a few stuffed animals.

“That was scary, because they made me feel like my house was in danger,” Albach said. “And I’m sure they had to do that to be cautious, but it was just very frightening.”

As they were leaving the house, Albach’s children asked if the mud was going to continue unchecked and knock their house down. Albach’s response: “I hope not.”

Thanks to the pool, which is about 9 feet at its deepest, the mudslide stopped short of the house.

One firefighter told Albach that, had the mud not had a place to collect, it would have come right through the house.

The Albachs’ patio around the pool was also swallowed by the mud.

The only visible evidence of the pool’s existence is now the top of a ladder leading into the deep end.

The level of the mud now reaches the floor of a tree house on the property and is half the height of the Albachs’ swingset.

The firefighters told Albach to have the house inspected by a structural engineer just to be safe, but as of Monday, the Albachs had still not been contacted by anyone from the township.

But Albach was grateful no one was injured, and there was no damage inside the house. Even her basement was clear.

“I’m just so thankful. Now we just have a backyard to replace; I’m glad it’s not a house to replace,” she said.

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