The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

National News

January 8, 2013

After the surge, a slow trickle back to the shore

TOMS RIVER, N.J. — It may be January, but Jim and Joanne Murphy are excited to get back to the beach — Normandy Beach, the community they call home.

They were among the few residents who returned to the area Monday, the first day of so-called “repopulation” plans in certain areas of the Jersey Shore towns of Toms River, Brick and Seaside Heights that were flooded by Superstorm Sandy.

Few others have returned because their homes still are too damaged nine weeks later. The slow pace of return helps illustrate the difficulties in recovering from the historic storm, which swamped the shorelines of New Jersey, New York and Connecticut on Oct. 29.

The Murphys count themselves lucky. They built their home in May, employing tough building standards that called for, among other things, a higher elevation than their neighbors. Aside from a caking of mud on the outside, their home is fine.

His wife said: “We are happy — no, we are exuberant — to be back home,” Joanne Murphy said. “We may even go to the beach (Tuesday). It’s supposed to be 50 degrees.”

They’ll be lacking in neighbors, though. Many of the houses on the barrier island with the most devastated communities are populated only in the summer, and of those, few homes are inhabitable.

In the Ortley Beach section of Toms River, only 60 of 2,600 homes escaped damage, and residents still can’t return. In nearby Brick, even fewer residents appeared to have returned to an area defined by more than 100 bungalows that burned after the storm.

Residents of Lavallette, a shore town north of Toms River, were permitted to return home last month, but even there, most homes remain vacant.

Public access was restored Monday to the southern section of Mantoloking, another hard-hit town.

But motorists had to detour onto a bridge leading out of town unless they were residents or contractors working on one of the hundreds of storm-damaged homes. There are still police checkpoints, and town-issued photo identification cards are needed to get into the community’s northern half.

In Seaside Heights, a roller coaster still sits in the ocean after plunging off a collapsing amusement pier a few blocks from the home of retired Police Commissioner Guy Mazzanti, who was allowed back Monday.

Even now, Mazzanti isn’t in his permanent home. That building took on more than 2 feet of water and still needs major repairs. But he rented a condominium, and on Monday greeted friends he hadn’t seen for more than two months.

“It’s paradise, being home,” Mazzanti said.

“I still can’t believe how 24 hours can make such a difference in our lives,” he said, referring to the storm.

Tony Vaz, a Seaside Heights councilman, also has not been able to return to his house. He, too, rented a condo until repairs can be made to his home.

“The feeling of being back home, in our own town, that’s a feeling we all missed,” Vaz said. “You can’t imagine how good it feels.”

Wearing a fleece New York Jets top, Vaz joked about having withstood two disasters last fall: the storm and the beleaguered football team’s season. He is looking forward to normalcy in a neighborhood where there still are few people.

“I’m looking forward to the 7-Eleven reopening, so when you need cigarettes or a cup of coffee, you can just walk around the corner and get it,” he said. “Little things like that are part of everyday life in a town.”

In Toms River, the Murphys spoke of “euphoria and relief” as they carried boxes of belongings inside to the home they weren’t even sure they still had.

“There was a lot of anxiety,” Jim Murphy said. “We weren’t allowed into the area at all for 15 days; we didn’t even know if we had a home to come home to.”

Bill McEnery came to his house Monday but still could not move in because the gas, water and electricity have yet to be restored.

His landlord promises they’ll be turned back on soon. And when that day comes, McEnery knows exactly how he’ll celebrate.

“The very first thing I’m going to do is turn the heat up full blast, get naked, and run around the house,” he said. “It’s going to be so great to be home.”

 

1
Text Only
National News
  • Salmonella decline seen in food poisoning report

    The government’s latest report card on food poisoning shows a dip in salmonella cases but an increase in illnesses from bacteria in raw shellfish.

    April 18, 2014

  • Judge in gay marriage case asks pointed questions

    A judge in Colorado who will play a pivotal role deciding whether gays should be allowed to wed in the United States asked pointed questions Thursday about whether Oklahoma can legally ban the unions.

    April 17, 2014

  • Obama shows skepticism on Russia in Ukraine

    President Barack Obama conveyed skepticism Thursday about Russian promises to de-escalate a volatile situation in Ukraine, and said the United State and its allies are ready to impose fresh sanctions if Moscow doesn’t make good on its commitments.

    April 17, 2014

  • Cyber cops: Target hackers may take years to find

    Secret Service investigators say they are close to gaining a full understanding of the methods hackers used to breach Target’s computer systems last December.

    April 17, 2014

  • Court to weigh challenge to ban on campaign lies

    As political campaigns begin to heat up, the Supreme Court is deciding whether false accusations and mudslinging made during an election can be punished as a crime.

    April 16, 2014

  • Auto Show Nissan Hot _Cast.jpg Hot models at this year’s New York Auto Show

    With more than 1 million visitors annually, the New York International Auto Show is one of the most important shows for the U.S. auto industry.

    April 16, 2014 3 Photos

  • Transportation Blues 2.jpg Congress is giving states the transportation blues

    On the road in a tour bus this week, the U.S. transportation secretary is spreading some bad news: the government’s Highway Trust Fund is nearly broke.

    April 15, 2014 2 Photos

  • Report: Russia withheld intel before Boston attack

    A yearlong review of information the U.S. intelligence community had prior to the Boston Marathon bombing found that the investigation could have been more thorough.

    April 11, 2014

  • Obama Health Secretary.jpg Obama announces Sebelius resignation, successor

    President Barack Obama praised outgoing Health and Human Secretary Kathleen Sebelius for helping to steer his health care law’s comeback after a rocky rollout, even as he nominated a successor aimed at helping the White House move past the political damage.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Police seek driver in deadly Florida day care crash

    As mourners trickled by Thursday to honor the 4-year-old girl who was killed and 14 others injured in a crash at a Florida day care, authorities scoured the state for the driver they said fled in the vehicle that caused the fatal wreck.

    April 10, 2014

Facebook
Poll

A Missouri Senate committee has endorsed a 1-cent sales tax increase to fund transportation projects. The proposed constitutional amendment passed the House earlier this month. If passed by the full Senate, the measure would head to the November ballot for voter approval. Would you vote in favor of it?

Yes.
No.
     View Results
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
NDN Video
Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Raw: Church Tries for Record With Chalk Jesus Raw: Faithful Celebrate Good Friday Worldwide Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest Police Arrest Suspect in Highway Shootings Drought Concerns May Hurt Lake Tourism Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home Calif. Investigators Re-construct Fatal Bus Cras Mayor Rob Ford Launches Re-election Campaign Appellate Court Hears Okla. Gay Marriage Case