The Downbeach towns were slowly recovering from Sandy on Wednesday, and each was a different story.
In Margate, Commissioner Brenda Taube said the schools and City Hall would be closed today and Friday. Access would be permitted once the city receives approval from Gov. Chris Christie, she said, adding that they don’t want to open just one bridge, such as the Margate Causeway, in case it becomes a logjam for residents trying to enter the island to get to other towns.
The electricity was also starting to be restored in scattered spots throughout the city on Wednesday — unlike in Ventnor, which was entirely out.
“This has been going off for the last day and a half,” said Margate resident Jeff Frankel, who rode out the storm in his Atlantic Avenue apartment next to a bank. And just as he said it, the alarm finally went off
Along Atlantic Avenue, huge piles of sand lay piled in the street, while the streets on the beach blocks were either covered in sand — with sections plowed out as if it was snow — or still under a pool of water.
“It was waist deep wading through Ventnor Avenue,” Frankel said of the height of the storm. “The ocean and bay met at the first high tide Monday morning.”
The Wawa on Ventnor Avenue saw flooding of at least two feet, while Amherst Avenue businesses such as Maynard’s, Tomatoe’s and Steve and Cookie’s also saw “severe” damage, Mayor Mike Becker said.
When the storm hit — and it hit Margate directly — “I was standing outside, and there was an eerie feeling,” Frankel said. It was pitch black at 7 o’clock at night. No wind, no nothing. You couldn’t see 5 feet in front of you. Then after the eye passed, the winds started hitting 70, 80 mph. Continuous 40, gusts of 70 to 80.”
Resident Sharon Kidder said that she could see “sheds, beach chairs and boogie boards floating down the street,” adding that a friend had water in her first floor up to the bed.
“There were actually waves in the apartment,” Kidder said. “It wasn’t still. There was a current through it.”
A person could walk up to the beach in the area of western Margate by walking up the sand in the approaching streets. At Adams Avenue, a large dune in front of a condominium complex was gone, while the window of another condo had completely blown in and the room was open to the outside air, the sand coming right up to the edge.
“White foam was coming down the street right at the eye of the hurricane,” said resident Jim Duncan. “Just as easy, it could have been much worse. A hiccup, and we could have been buried.”
Rocks at the Adams Avenue jetty were fully visible for the first time in months, Duncan said.
“When the storm hit, we had a lot of beach,” Duncan said. “I don’t know if the beach replenishment came down here, but we had a big beach when the storm hit, as big as we’ve had for years — and that’s probably a good thing.”
Becker said the storm uncovered so much sand, “You could see the foundation of the old boardwalk destroyed in the 1940s.”
In Longport, the area in front of Ozzie’s Luncheonette, which had water marks on the front door of several feet, were covered in giant piles of sand. Access beyond 22nd Street was blocked by police.
“There was a lot of property damage,” Sgt. Tom Adams said. “A lot of sand in the streets. We’ll probably have a better idea (of road damage) once the highway department informs us how it is down there.”
In Ventnor, Commissioner Frank Sarno cautioned that residents may not be allowed back in, even if electricity and access to the island are restored, because of concerns about the sewage system overflowing. A 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew was still in effect, and he added that the borders to the town may have to be sealed.
At the Ventnor Fishing Pier, sand was being scooped up and dumped off the boards via machine. A large storage container that Frankel said had been used to screen the Ventnor Beach patrol headquarters ended up washing right up to the pier, though it didn’t cause any major damage.
“That’s Ventnor’s major priority, pushing sand off the pier,” said a frustrated Christine Sagnis. “That’s not going to help my apartment.”
In Ventnor Heights, a giant walk-in freezer had come to rest next to Annette’s Restaurant. Owner Cheryl Venezia said it was from Capri Pizza across Dorset Avenue, while Wawa employee Karen Sullivan said it was from Community Liquors next door.
“It didn’t have ice in it,” Sullivan said. “If it had ice, it wouldn’t have floated away.”
Venezia at least got to enjoy a fine pizza dinner at Tony’s Baltimore Grill in Atlantic City on Tuesday night.
“It was a mob scene,” Venezia said. “There was a two and a half hour wait for pizza, but everybody waited.”
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