National Guard on Sandy Recovery: This Isn't a Sprint, It's a Marathon

Nearly two weeks after Sandy changed their lives forever, residents of Long Beach Island are set to return home.

By Harry Hairston, Katy Zachry and David Chang
|  Friday, Sep 20, 2013  |  Updated 12:39 PM EDT
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Residents are allowed to return to their homes on Long Beach Island on Saturday morning, nearly two weeks after Hurricane Sandy.

NBC10Philadelphia.com - Katy Zachry

Residents are allowed to return to their homes on Long Beach Island on Saturday morning, nearly two weeks after Hurricane Sandy.

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National Guard Helping to Put NJ Back Together

NBC10's Harry Hairston joined the New Jersey National Guard on Friday to get a firsthand look at the battered area of Long Beach Island.
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Nearly two weeks after Sandy changed their lives forever, residents of Long Beach Island are set to return home. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has lifted the evacuation order in LBI. On Saturday, beginning at 6 a.m., those who live on the island will be able to return home and stay if their homes are habitable.

"There are so many things up in the air," said Bobbie Grissoni of North Beach. "There are no definitives."

"Am I elated about getting back onto my island? Absolutely," said Ila Biegel of Surf City. "This is my heart." 

Emergency managers will let in anyone who shows proof of residency along with licensed contractors. The one exception however is Holgate. No one will be allowed back there because the damage is too severe.

Trash will be collected throughout the island as long as it's on the curb. Water is considered unsafe to drink unless it's boiled for at least one minute.

"It's a lot of clean up," said Grissoni. "A lot of preparatory work before the insurance companies come."

Another issue is natural gas. A local police chief says the goal is to have all gasoline stations working by December 1.

Bulldozers are currently hauling sand for beach replenishment. A nightly curfew will be in place between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m.

“This isn’t going to be a sprint,” said General James Grant of the NJ National Guard. “This is a marathon.”

General Grant says his troops, more than 180, have been at the shore for two weeks, working around the clock.

“I do miss my children,” said Staff Sergeant Christian Schley. “I have a 5-year-old and a 5-month-old at home.”

Staff Sergeant Schley says he even missed his son’s 5th birthday.

“But as I look at the loss and the devastation here, it’s definitely worth the cost,” said Schley.

“We’re doing shelter security,” said General Grant. “We’re helping the shelters with the Red Cross.”

The army is also shipping thousands of gallons of gas from the Hess refinery at Port Reading to Freehold, NJ where gas is sparse. The gas is being used to fuel utility and emergency vehicles. The National Guard says they will continue their operations as long as it takes for people to rebuild.

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