Mantoloking returning to its pre-Sandy self

MANTOLOKING, N.J. - August 6, 2013

Now that houses, cars and other debris has been cleared from the Barnegat Bay, FEMA contractors are focusing on removing the sand.

From sun up to sundown, 7 days a week, heavy equipment is scooping up dark, sloppy sand that was swept off the beaches and into the bay during Sandy.

It's put on barges, cleaned and dumped back on the beach.

"They run it to the lab, they test it, got to be 90% ocean sand going back so if it's not then they take it to a landfill," Mantoloking spokesman Chris Nelson said.

Once it's screened and cleaned, the recovered black sand is being used to build new dunes to replace the ones wiped out October.

"I'm glad we are getting back from Sandy. It is good to help the beach and reform the dunes, but it's just upsetting to see all this black," Chris Giannos of Point Pleasant said.

In New Jersey, we are used to beautiful white beaches, but the sand that's coming from the bottom of the bay is decidedly darker. The look of it disturbs some people, but officials say the safety issue is more important than aesthetics.

"You had pristine white sand that sat in the muddy bay for eight months, so it's going to be dark. After the storm we had nothing, you could see from the bay to the ocean. Now we have a dune system, around 13 to 16 feet," Nelson said.

"We got hammered when the storm came through. So anything that protects us for the next one, I'm thrilled," Jim Turro of Mantoloking said.

"Right now it doesn't look great, but it's going to change because of the sun it's gonna get lighter and lighter," Mantoloking resident Barbara Turro said.

Mantoloking officials say that rain and sun should bleach the sand back to its normal color in a matter of months and that dealing with discolored sand is a small price to pay for what the dunes mean to shore communities.

"Towns are doing all that they can to make sure that they bolster that sand dune so God forbid another hurricane hits, we are protected," Nelson said.

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