DOWNE TOWNSHIP — Emergency personnel told the Moros family to leave their home in Fortescue as quickly as possible the evening before Hurricane Sandy struck.
Jennifer Moros said the warning was dire: Wait too long and no one would be able to provide a possible rescue from their home along the Delaware Bay.
“We left with the clothes on our back,” she said.
That’s about all that Jennifer Moros, 40, her husband, James, 42, and the 8-year-old son, also named James, have left.
“We lost everything,” Jennifer Moros said.
Like many of Cumberland County’s small Delaware Bay communities, Fortescue suffered much damage from the storm. For the Moros, that involved waves and high winds tearing apart the bayfront deck that the family loved.
“We used to fish right off the deck, catch stripers and cook them,” Jennifer Moros said.
Floodwaters carried away a small addition to the Delaware Avenue house and flooded the rest of the building. Furniture, appliances, clothing, photographs and just about everything else the family owned was damaged or destroyed.
The family still managed to save something important.
“Our 3-year-old son died three years ago,” Jennifer Moros said. “We have the urn with his ashes.”
Jennifer Moros, who works with her husband’s construction business, is now helping to tear up the damaged interior of the house that has sat on piling in the small Delaware Bay community since the family rebuilt it after the 1962 storm. She is pulling out walls and floors that were soaked in saltwater.
“We just put these down five years ago,” Jennifer Moros said. “We’re using the wood stove to help dry things out.”
If there is any consolation, it is that the house can be salvaged.
Mayor Robert Campbell was in the house recently to help determine whether it is structurally sound, Jennifer Moros said.
“He jumped up and down on the floor and then gave us the signal,” she said, showing how Campbell gave two thumbs up.
Jennifer Moros said friends already have helped them install support beams. New piling will be driven into the sand soon, she said.
One thing that Jennifer Moros said was not washed away by the storm is the township’s sense of community: Local officials, residents and even the principal of the school that young Jimmy Moros attends have stopped by. They are offering whatever help they can.
“They’re asking if we need a hot meal, if we need a shower,” she said.
The Moros family is now renting another home in Fortescue until their house is repaired, something that Jennifer Moros said will surely happen.
“We don’t give up here,” she said.
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