Restore the Shore: Boat Tour Kickoff

May 13, 2013 2:34:21 PM PDT
Tom Ohntrup is living, and by accounts loving, the retired life. Perhaps most of all, he's loving where he gets to do it.

"I am without a doubt a shore guy," Ohntrup says.

he knows these waters about as well as he is known here, as was evident when Action News joined him for a morning boat cruise. He is very well known. So it should come as no surprise that, as Superstorm Sandy bore down on the coastline, the former charter captain and his wife didn't want to "abandon ship."

"As everyone else, we were ordered to leave. But I'm not too good at following rules, and my wife and I stayed."

It was a decision he wishes he could take back. When the storm subsided he was left with a foot of water in his home, and a view of his beloved bays that he now recounts like a tour guide of the tattered.

"There's somebody who lost their whole dock right there, and the ramp is going down into the water. The dock is gone... They're working on that as we speak... You can see right there, that's all new wood.... It's hard to believe. Nature is strong. Very strong."

But Tom is equally quick to point out the good and there is a lot of it. As we motored in and out of bay after bay, it was very often hard to tell a storm had ever even been here.

"We are definitely on the way back. We're on the mend. That's for sure."

Some houses that were damaged have already been fixed up. Some even raised up so they are higher than they were before. Others never had so much as a scratch, many thanks to a seawall measuring 4,500 feet long that many had bemoaned because of its cost.

"This is why the beachfront of Avalon didn't get affected whatsoever."

But best of all, Tom says, is how Sandy reinforced a sense of community, and the need to make sure that this community is ready when the summer crowds come knocking. He will be.

"Everybody's working down here. Everybody. And that's a good thing."