Dock Mike's Pancake House reopened in Sea Isle less than two weeks after Sandy hit. The building was repaired, but it's going to be another summer, at least, before the owner makes up for his financial losses. It's just another example of how you can't judge this recovery by appearances.
From Dock Mike's Pancake House in Sea Isle, to the Stone Harbor Elementary School, to the Northpoint Marina in Brigantine, Sandy left a trail of damage in her wake.
But in all of these spots, those in charge didn't have time to dwell on what they'd lost. Instead, they forged on with the cleanup.
Since Dock Mike's is elevated and hadn't flooded in the more than 20 years that Michael Tramutolo owned it, he didn't have flood or business interruption insurance. Before the flood hit, he lined up contractors that could do the necessary cleanup and repairs as soon as they could gain access. It cost him over $30,000, but the restaurant reopened ten days later.
Tramutolo says, "People pull together. Sandy, our server here, came down to help the final night setting tables. And my wife, you know, it was just a team effort to get us back together."
At the Northpoint Marina in Brigantine, owners Donna Vanzant and Michael Leeds are also grateful to those who helped them rebuild.
"We spent all winter, every day from the time the storm happened, there was people here helping us," Donna said.
And though Vanzant became famous after she was photographed getting a hug from the President, the Marina didn't get a dime of federal aid. They reopened in April, but have to replace thousands of dollars in inventory and twenty customers who lost their boats have yet to return.
At Stone Harbor Elementary, supervisor Renee Murtaugh credits teachers and parents with helping students make a smooth transition to the Avalon School, where they held classes until March 11th.
Over five-and-a-half months, the gym, first floor hallways and kindergarten classroom were gutted and renovated. The students are now happily settled back in.
Just about everyone we've spoken with agreed that if there was a silver lining to Sandy, it was learning just how many people are willing to help you out when you're down. But the economic recovery is far from over.