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Sandy Havoc Remains Reality For Many

Three years ago, on Oct. 29, 2012, Super Storm Sandy came up the Eastern Seaboard and made a sharp left turn into the coast of New Jersey. A massive storm, it started as a tropical depression the week before as it tore through the Caribbean. Gaining strength, it grew to a Category 3 hurricane, devastating the Bahamas, Jamaica, Haiti and Cuba. As it traveled up the coast of the United States, it weakened. But by the time it made landfall its diameter was about 900 miles. Sandy had the largest circulation in history; pushing a 12 foot storm surge that created incredible beach erosion and flooding. Whole neighborhoods burned to the ground.

I’ve lived at the Jersey Shore for 30 years. We are hurricane veterans. But we weren’t prepared for Sandy, even though we were. I remember, days before Sandy struck, being at the local luncheonette and talking to neighbors. None of us thought we would need to evacuate. By the time my husband got home Saturday, he was anchoring a multi-million marine construction job in NY Harbor and making his way down the coast to other places Caldwell Marine had boats and barges to moor, we knew we had to go.

The trajectory of the storm was directed at us. Despite all the predictions and speculation, nothing prepared us for the flooding. My neighborhood and the surrounding areas of Great Bay filled up like a soaking tub. Bungalows sitting on slabs were full of water. When the tide receded, the water was replaced with mud holes.

As dawn broke Oct. 30, 2012, so did much of the disastrous and devastating news. Neighbors lost everything. The Atlantic had breached to the intercostal in Mantoloking in northern Ocean County. Breezey Point in New York had burned to the ground.

Those of us who could get to our homes were the lucky ones. Long Beach Island, Pelican Island and Mantoloking remained closed and under National Guard for months after.

We raised our home after the December 1992 nor’easter so we had very little water in our home after Sandy. It was only weeks later that we realized the full extent of the water damage. Mostly, though, we had to deal with mold remediation, replacing walls and floors. It was overwhelming, but we still understood we were the lucky ones.

Now, three years later, my neighborhood still looks like a war zone. It is changing every day; for the better. Nearly 5,000 homes were damaged. Some have been raised and renovated but many more have not. Others may never come back because of complications including lack of insurance.

On this third anniversary, I remember all those people who are unfortunately still not in their homes. I talk so much about ways to beautify our homes. I couldn’t imagine loosing mine. I pray that someday soon, all my neighbors on the East Coast will return.

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