DEP officials tour Sandy damaged Ocean County

NORMANDY BEACH, N.J. - July 10, 2013

Dawn Mattfeld was one of those watching in Normandy Beach as about 3,000 dangerous or collapsed homes affected by Sandy were demolished.

New Jersey's Environmental Commissioner was there too, checking on progress as shore towns try to rebuild.

"A big piece of that rebuilding has got to be demolishing homes that are destroyed like this, that were caused by the storm, so we can start to rebuild," said Bob Martin.

The Hennions watched as heavy machinery finished the job Sandy started.

"It's sad, it was our home, you know? We didn't rent it, we lived there and we used it all year round. So it's tough to watch," said Rich Hennion.

"You have to put things in perspective, that's all I can tell you. This is only stuff. A lot of people lost a lot more," said Janine Hennion.

Through the Private Property Debris Removal Program, FEMA is paying 90 percent of the cost of removing houses that were destroyed in the storm.

"It gives homeowners that might have to wait to save the money or see what insurance is gonna pay - it gives them an opportunity to do it a little quicker," said Mayor Steve Acropolis, Brick Township.

There are thousands of structures ready to be knocked down. Some call them 'Dorothy' houses, as in the Wizard of Oz.

"They're twisted, turned and so on and they're dangerous and they're an attractive nuisance for kids. And they're unsightly and bad for morale and they're tying up the rest of development here," said Mayor Tom Kelaher, Toms River.

Normandy Beach residents say they're sad to see the homes knocked down but it's a must.

"It was a hazard after Sandy, it was wide open and irresistible to children and teenagers," said Marion Libonate.

"The boardwalks are up and running, that's easy but to put these people's houses back, it's devastating," said Ryan Mikula.

By the end of September, the state hopes to have in place preliminary plans to protect against future damage by building a dune and berm system along the interior New Jersey coast.

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