Sandy aftermath: Residents assess damage on Long Beach Island
For many Long Beach Island home owners, this past weekend was their first visit to the barrier island hit hard by Hurricane Sandy two weeks ago.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie lifted the evacuation order on LBI and allowed residents to begin to pick up the pieces left behind from Sandy's destructive path.
For Chandler and Trish Hosmer, who have a vacation home on Long Beach Island, they finally saw first-hand how Sandy picked up and slammed their neighbor's house into their living room.
The neighbor's once two-story beach house, now missing an entire first floor, rests against Hosmer's, until it will be demolished.
The Hosmer's were prepared for their return after recognizing the image of their damaged home on the evening news shortly after the storm.
"What I didn't expect was all the water damage," said Leslie. "There is three feet of sand in our bedroom."
Inside the home, Sandy's waters are still visible on the cool, damp walls and mounds of sand cover the kitchen and bathroom floors. Cookbooks that were once tucked neatly onto a bookshelf in the living room washed away and landed in the bathtub.
"All you can do is make light of it and move on," said Chandler next to a pile of sandy beach cushions and broken furniture in front of the house. "We have so many memories here . . . we'll just rebuild it," affirmed Hosmer.
Extent of damage varies widely
A block away from the Hosmer's in Brighton Beach residents were also assessing the damage to their homes.
Rick Rena's home about 100 feet from the ocean lucked out with just a little water damage.
Rena, who was in the front lawn clearing debris with his wife Diana, remembered the "Ash Wednesday" storm of 1962. It took about 18 months to rebuild his family home after the storm stalled over the East Coast.
But some residents, yards away weren't as fortunate as Renna this time around.
PSE&G Foreman Bill Callahan and worker Orlando Caceres dug through slabs of pavement and sand to disconnect a gas-line from a four-story dream home marked with an orange notice.
The notice, gas workers explained, meant the house was uninhabitable and slated for demolition.
Despite the mountains of sand and orange notices around Brighton Beach, Caceres said the damage seen on Long Beach Island was nothing compared to the devastation he witnessed further north along the Jersey Shore.
"It's a shame," said Caceres. "Someone thinks they have it bad, but there is always somebody who has it worse."