In New Jersey, a slow-motion evacuation from climate change

A flood-plain forest grows now where there used to be houses in the Watson Crampton neighborhood in Woodbridge, N.J., as seen from the air on Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019. The Heards Brook on the top meets the Woodbridge River on the left, which leads to the Atlantic Ocean. Homeowners here took buyouts through a program that purchases houses and demolishes them to remove people from danger and to help absorb water from rising sea levels due to climate change. (AP Photo/Ted Shaffrey)

WOODBRIDGE, N.J. - Patricia Kambach couldn't bear to watch a crew demolish her longtime neighbor's home this month, so she went inside her own house in Woodbridge, New Jersey, where she has lived since John F. Kennedy was president.

"I lived here 56 years, and it's hard," said Kambach.

Hard but not rare. The state has bought and torn down 145 homes since 2013 in Woodbridge, with eight homes demolished this month alone. Dozens more are slated to be torn down in the near future.

It's all part of an effort to get ahead of climate change. Some neighborhoods in this town of over 100,000 residents just off the bustling New Jersey Turnpike are projected to be partly or fully underwater in coming decades as global sea levels rise.

"A lot of people are taking the buyout because they are getting good price for their house and we do have problems with the water," said Kambach, 80.