ORTLEY BEACH, N.J. - It could be months before residents on New Jersey’s barrier islands can return to the homes.
In Ortley Beach, considered ground zero for Sandy, the township still has no electricity, gas, or water.
The two-story home of Stephanie Kuzbyt is one of two left standing on her block. While the inside of her first floor has been gutted, she can’t move back upstairs until the infrastructure returns.
“I know we’re going to be the last ones back because there’s no telephone poles… there’s no electricity,” she tells WSB’s Sandra Parrish. “They’re doing the best they can right now.”
Her neighbor’s homes, that are still there, are crumpled and off their foundations. Sections of asphalt that once was her street lay in piles.
But a few miles to the north, the town of Lavellette is faring better. Mayor Walter LaCicero says half of its full-time residents are back despite the fact that 98 percent of the homes were either damaged or destroyed.
“We’ve got quite a few businesses that are open, a couple of restaurants, gas station, hardware store… post office should be open soon,” he says.
He stayed during the storm and watched the surge reach eight feet in a matter of 20 minutes. He describes what he saw like a tsunami as the water rushed through town sweeping away everything in its path.
And while many of the towns are now open to traffic, only residents are allowed in the town of Mantoloking which is further north.
Barbara Smith home remains intact, but her neighbor’s house two doors down now sits in the middle of the bay.
“Hopefully the services will be back in a few months and people will be able to start assessing how they can rebuild and start their lives over again,” she says.
Borough officials in Seaside Heights and the owners of the Casino Pier amusement park are still trying to decide how to take down the Jet Star roller coaster that now sits in the water.