Long Beach Island residents returned home Saturday, nearly two weeks after Sandy battered the Jersey Shore and left millions of dollars in property damage.
Residents crossed the bridge around 6 a.m. to return home and stay if their homes are habitable. The island is now completely open for residents to begin clean-up and construction after New Jersey Governor Chris Christie lifted the evacuation order in LBI Friday. Christie has not lifted the evacuation order for those in heavily damaged Holgate.
Steve and Ellen Kramer enlisted the help of family and friends to start the task of cleaning up post-Sandy.
“There was a lot of water damage, all the rugs, the couches, beds, everything. I think it went up to about 4 feet of water,” said Steve Kramer.
Before the sun was even up the island was abuzz with back-hoes. Contractors and homeowners spent the day hard at work.
“There's a lot to do, a lot ahead of us. But we're going do it,” said Ellen Kramer.
Public works crews have already collected trash and debris Sandy left scattered across roads. They'll now begin collecting debris homeowners are putting out to the curb.
Maureen Grennan shoveled out nearly 2-feet of sand Sandy pushed inside her first floor. Now comes the task of getting rid of it altogether.
“We've contacted some people and they're gonna give us estimates to get rid of the sand. It's physically impossible to get rid of the sand,” said Grennan
Residents, though happy to be back home, are realistic that recovery will take some time.
“This is a major disaster. All the officials and everything, they're working really hard. This isn't something you fix up overnight, or in two weeks of two months. However long it takes, we'll tough it out.”
A boil water advisory remained in effect Saturday. Residents are not allowed to drink the water until further notice. Residents will also have to find an alternative heating source. Natural gas is still shut off.
Renee Amellio, with New Jersey National Gas, says they hope to have natural gas restored to all customers by Dec. 1st.
Schools in LBI are set to reopen on Monday. There are only two elementary schools in the Long Beach Island School District. One school is too damaged to reopen which is why all the students and faculty will go to Ethel A. Jacobsen Elementary School tomorrow morning. Ethel A. will be open due to the fact that it runs on electric heat rather than natural gas.
The Beach Haven School district only has one elementary school which is too damaged to reopen. Those students will be bussed to the mainland tomorrow. Classes will also resume for LBI middle school and high school students on the mainland.