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Jersey Shore residents return home to damage, destruction

  • Boats that were carried from a marina by surge from superstorm Sandy sit in driveways in Brant Beach, N.J., Thursday, Nov. 1, 2012. Three days after Sandy slammed the mid-Atlantic and the Northeast, New York and New Jersey struggled to get back on their feet, the U.S. death toll climbed to more than 80, and more than 4.6 million homes and businesses were still without power. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

POINT PLEASANT BEACH, N.J. — Bill Goldberg's first reaction upon entering his flood-damaged home in this popular Jersey Shore resort community was unprintable.

His second was that life as he knew it had just been turned upside down — along with his refrigerator, freezer, and kitchen and dining room furniture.

"Now it's a matter of figuring out whether I have anything left," he said Thursday, as he scraped a thick layer of mud from his home.

Similar scenes were playing out up and down the Jersey Shore and along New York's beachfront communities as residents were allowed back into their neighborhoods for the first time since Hurricane Sandy hit Monday night. Some were relieved to find only minor damage; others were wiped out.

"A lot of tears are being shed today," said Dennis Cucci, whose home near the ocean in Point Pleasant Beach sustained heavy damage. "It's absolutely mind-boggling.

"The worst part is the mental damage from not knowing what comes next," he said. "We're ready to start doing something, but what? What do you do first? When should you start doing it? Where can you put damaged stuff? When can you put it there? We're just waiting for someone to say something."

In the meantime, the shock from the storm was wearing off and the realization that this would be a long, sloppy slog was setting in.

"We're running out of clean clothes," Cucci said. "This is the last pair of dry shoes I have. It took the storm two days to wreck all this, and it's going to take well over a year to recover from it."

Barbara Montemarano drove with her husband Robert to see how their condo near the ocean in Point Pleasant Beach had fared. They dragged their waterlogged possessions to the curb, hoping to dry them in the first sustained sun the region had seen in three days.

"It's just sadness," she said. "It looks like a bomb went off here. There's almost nobody here; it looks like tumbleweeds are rolling down the street."

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