Ortley Beach Recovering Slowly From Sandy [AUDIO]
New Jersey lawmakers who toured hard-hit areas of the Jersey Shore after Superstorm Sandy were amazed by the destruction in the Ortley Beach section of Toms River.
Many houses were completely destroyed, and piles of debris are everywhere.
Toms River Police Chief Mike Mastronardy gave lawmakers an overview of the destruction, telling them "Ortley beach was ground zero for Superstorm Sandy - the area was pounded by 30 foot waves and was completely flooded in many areas…90 percent of residents evacuated during the storm - and it's a miracle that there were no fatalities- there were hundreds of water rescues."
He said when the storm hit, things happened very quickly
"You would have 6 inches of water," said Mastronardy, "and you'd turn around all of a sudden there were 3 feet in your house…We had over fifteen hundred 911 calls, where people were trapped in their attics. So it put a lot of pressure on our resources- we searched every house- the roadways were impassable…It's unfortunate that we lost not only a lot of homes, but also a lot of memories, but people are committed to rebuilding."
The Chief said he knew there'd be significant damage, "but I'll tell you this, being a Jersey Shore boy all my life, I never anticipated the amount of flooding that we had- not only Ortley Beach but the damage we had on the mainland…Listening to the 911 tapes is incredible, people were crying for help and pleading and never anticipated getting up in the middle of the night and they'd step in 2 feet of water in their bedroom and saying what's going on or the bed started floating away. It was totally amazing."
He also said at this point, after clearing the roads of sand, and starting to fill in sink-holes.
"Now it's a trash mode. We have to get rid of this trash- and then you have to work through FEMA. You have to get it to a yard, somebody has to monitor it, then you have to re-collect it and ship it out- get it off the island…Our job is to protect people- it's a fine balance between rebuilding, clearing the way, making it safe…When people rebuild, I really think we need to look at raising homes - to prevent water from coming in."