More NJ Sandy evacuees allowed home

January 7, 2013 2:55:52 PM PST
Authorities reopened most of Ocean County's northern barrier islands on Monday, more than two months after Superstorm Sandy destroyed and damaged homes.

Thousands of residents of towns like Brick, Mantaloking, Normandy Beach and many others were allowed to go home to see what, if anything, is left.

Residents on the northern beaches of the Barnegat Peninsula were told if they've been able to repair their house, they can move back in.

Candy Popaca of Normandy Beach is one of the few who can do that. She has light, water, power and only minimal damage. That's because, 25 years ago, her home was built seven feet off the ground.

Popaca said just being home was enough to make her cry, along with the knowledge that "a lot of people still have a long way to go."

One person who has a long way to go is Janice Matthews. Her home in Brick was right next to Camp Osborne and burned to the ground.

Janice said her goal is to "rebuild and get back to normal as soon as possible." She added, "but that's going to be a very long time."

85-year-old Norm Van Arsdalen has a house just across the street. He's anxious to move back in after repairs are made, but his sons don't have that option.

"Both my sons lost their houses. They were here, along with many other friends who were here," he said.

The Mantoloking Bridge is now open to traffic and drivers are allowed on most of Route 35. However, there are electric crews all over working to replace damaged power lines and contractors repairing infrastructure and roads.

Most all of the checkpoints will be gone but authorities say there will still be a heavy police presence here to protect from looters, and a curfew. No one, not even residents who move back, will be allowed out on the street after 6:00 p.m.