Officials say minimal damage in Cape May, Wildwood

CAPE MAY, N.J. - October 30, 2012

"We were within about three hours of getting a direct hit," said Cape May Mayor Ed Mahaney, Jr.

It was the closest Cape May has come to a direct storm hit in 50 years, and Mayor Ed Mahaney is breathing a sigh of relief.

And so was Sabrina Welsh. "It was really windy. Where I live, it wasn't that bad. But when you look at the beach and you see all of the pictures, it's crazy," she said.

According Mayor Mahaney, 90% of the Cape May residents still have power, many of them not losing power during the height of the storm.

Emergency responders manned the streets Tuesday to secure manhole covers and to check on trees and downed power lines.

After Cape May was in the clear, crews began removing boards from windows round town.

"I'm very lucky to be living where I live," said Sabrina. "In Atlantic City, it's crazy."

The area suffered some minor flooding but nothing that posed any real damage to property.

However, Cape May officials want to send a message to the people who live in town to stay inside of their homes.

Although it may appear that the storm has passed, officials warn there could be hidden hazards that residents may not be aware of, and they want to survey the area before residents begin to move around.

Cape May officials plan to stay in contact with residents to let them know when it is safe to resume normal activity.

Officials say residents will not be allowed back in Cape May until Wednesday afternoon at the earliest. They are urging residents to stay wherever they have been seeking shelter until further notice.

Officials say they will be accessing beach erosion in the coming days.

In Wildwood, residents are slowly beginning to return to their homes to assess any damage they may have sustained during the storm.

People were even walking the boardwalk late Tuesday afternoon, many of them saying they feel very lucky to have escaped the brunt of Sandy.

Dan O'Connell is one of them. He says he braved the elements Monday night to look at the ocean. He was amazed that the vast Wildwood beaches were covered in tidal waters.

"We got one of the biggest beaches around and the ocean came all the way up. As soon as it did, I got out of there," said O'Connell.

The heart of Wildwood bore the brunt of the flooding with much of the downtown area underwater.

With only minimal flooding remaining in the downtown area Tuesday evening, a lake of water sits in the middle of the beaches in Wildwood.

"This is what we get," said Dennis Shepherd. "We pay the price down here."

And for some, that price is great. Sandy's powerful surge over West Wildwood, New Jersey forced one home to partially collapse. Across the street pieces of a white fence are now strewn across the backyard. Several yards and homes are littered with debris.

"We took hoses and sprayed it all down," said Frank DiGiorgio.

Cleanup is underway at the DiGiorgio's West Wildwood home. Their garage smelled of seawater and had been filled with piles of weeds.

"This freezer shorted out. You could see the water line on it," said DiGiorgio.

The water lines show the garage took on at least 3 feet of water.

Two years ago, the DiGiorgios raised their home off the ground; had they not, they would be out of thousands of dollars in damages. Fortunately, there were only a few casualties to the flood.

"I was more concerned about my shuffleboard table," said DiGiorgio. His table did not survive.

While Sandy pounded particular properties in the Wildwoods, the majority of the towns dodged a bullet, though she still can't be called gentle.

"My shed had 10 inches of water," said Dennis Shepherd.

Flooding was an issue for many people on the barrier islands.

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