Some Ocean County residents return for first time

November 9, 2012 9:06:18 PM PST
It was the first fledgling step toward recovery for some Ocean County victims of Hurricane Sandy, but they have got a shockingly long way to go.

Evacuees were bused in to specific areas on the barrier island and given just one hour to see what happened to their homes, and to take what they could.

These "grab-and-go" re-entries will be departing from Bellcrest Plaza in Toms River to different developments over the next several days.

It was the first time many residents were able to take a look at what they may have left.

It's also the first of three phases for re-entry into the Barrier Islands, post Hurricane Sandy. Ocean County officials released more on that plan here.

Police took four busloads of Toms River Township residents to their homes for the first time since Sandy hit.

One resident took video as they rolled through.

"The distruction is unreal; it's epic, seriously epic," said Carlo Guardascione.

Police escorted permanent residents onto Ocean Beach unit 1, Ocean Beach Shores, and Sunset Manor Shores. They had one hour to grab what they could and don't know when they can return.

"It was a minefield," said Margaret Russoman. "I'm shocked to see my house the way it is."

Samantha Campolongo is thrilled a turtle she adopted a day before the storm was found alive.

"I can't believe he's still alive," said Samantha.

Officials scheduled the trips to different areas through Tuesday except for Ortley Beach, citing safety concerns.

"I'm being told, 'If we let you over, we have to let everyone over.' So no go," said Gail D'Amico.

Full time residents are frustrated.

"I just want to go home," said William Duphorn.

In Toms River, the Red Cross and Emergency Management are helping people displaced. Plus, T-shirts are on sale with all of the proceeds going to help victims.

Victims shared stories of Sandy rescues Friday.

"He was like, 'I'll be back for you.' He stole a boat and came back for us," said Stephanie Miller.

Many residents have begun planning a Jersey comeback.

"We'll be back," said Erich Hoffman. "Everyone can look forward to another summer."

Click here for more information about the phases of the Barrier Island re-entry plan.

Silverton in Toms River Township is one of the towns is forging ahead 11 days after Sandy devastated their town.

"The whole neighborhood is in one house, like the Brady bunch with different bedrooms generators outside," said Chief Bob Sinnott.

Silverton Fire Chief Bob Sinnott lost his home under 5 feet of water. He is one of 12 firefighters displaced and now receiving some of the community donations piled high in the shed.

"When you get down to the location by the bay it's devastating," said Andy Jensen.

For volunteer firefighter Andy Jensen, rebuilding the town is a family effort. His son, Kurt, is also a Silverton volunteer firefighter, while his other son Drew is a fireman in Easton Maryland. He and his crew drove up during this week's snowstorm to help.

"We're here to make sandwiches and serve coffee," said Drew Jensen.

The out of state fire companies have also been fielding emergency calls. Silverton lost four fire trucks to the storm, but through it all their spirits remain bright; the community is united.

Silverton is among the many towns determined to rebuild despite the challenges ahead.


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