Long Beach Island’s north end did not sustain as much damage as the south end, and officials are crediting that to a beachfill project in Harvey Cedars and already expansive beaches in Barnegat Light.
In Harvey Cedars, the community, which is still working on emergency management operations, has not strayed from the familylike bond of the tiny seashore town.
On Friday at the High Point Volunteer Fire Company, a crew of residents and volunteers were busy cooking meals and responding to calls for service.
Wearing an apron, borough resident Pam Giottina rushed around the kitchen preparing lunch for volunteers but couldn’t not talk about her experience riding out the storm.
“You have to think mind over matter. You have to figure out and focus on where you’re needed, and I’m needed here,” Giottina said.
Giottina spent the storm at her 86th Street home, where she sustained minor damage and had a load of bay mud dumped on her front yard. But she isn’t complaining.
“I’m going to shut up because I could have lost my house,” she said.
She said she was supposed to evacuate, but she is glad she stayed with her tight-knit community.
“I am blessed I am able to stay. I would be out there on the island useless,” she said.
She said she was so thankful the borough completed a beach-replenishment project in 2010 because it saved the tiny town from the storm.
“If we didn’t have that project here, Harvey Cedars would be an inlet,” she said.
Harvey Cedars police Chief Thomas Preiser walked the borough’s beaches Friday afternoon, and although there was erosion and the dunes were affected, he said there would be no Harvey Cedars without the replenishment project.
He recalled Monday night when Robert Burnaford, a borough police officer who was off duty and switched hats to work as a volunteer firefighter, rescued residents on the oceanfront with Mayor Jonathan Oldham.
Burnaford was at the firehouse Friday afternoon and talked about the rescues he made with water that was up to his waist rushing down the street.
“The couple on Hudson Avenue was standing on their front porch and had gotten locked out of their house. We broke a window to get inside and get their dog. It was raining hard with wind gusts between 50 and 70 mph,” Burnaford said.
Oldham and Burnaford got them into a military truck after fighting through the water rushing down the street and then went to South Holly Drive and rescued a father, mother and son. They performed a third rescue on East Atlantic Avenue of a father, mother, two children and an infant stranded at their oceanside home.
“We had to wait for breaks in the waves to bring them all out of the house. We were fighting the water, the wind, the rain. It was crazy. I wasn’t scared, but I’ve never experienced anything like this before,” Burnaford said.
Oldham said the rescues are an example of the closeness of the community in Harvey Cedars. The borough’s residents, officials and police officers take care of each other, Oldham said.
Right now, homeowners clamoring to get back on the island need to be patient, but they also need to come home, he said.
“Not letting people come back soon is going to turn into a disaster,” he said.
He said everyone wants a timeline, but he doesn’t want to promise a return time that might not happen.
“One of the things about being on a barrier island is that you are on your own and you have to learn to be on your own. The town of Harvey Cedars is devastated, but we’re ready to open up,” he said.
Next to Harvey Cedars, in the Loveladies section of Long Beach Township, homes on the oceanfront have severe structural damage, with pieces of siding hanging off and undermined conditions. Windows are broken out, and sand is piled against many of the homes. Piling that once were connected to house foundations are splintering and bent. One home had three vehicles flooded and damage inside a garage.
Loveladies has not received a beach-replenishment project. Long Beach Township has been battling homeowners for years to secure easements to complete the project.
The northernmost point of the island, Barnegat Light, looked virtually untouched Friday afternoon. A jetty built in 1991 has been the gift that continues to give sand that has made for broad beaches and no erosion when a storm strikes the island.
In 1991, the Army Corps of Engineers built the 4,200-foot-long breakwater jetty at the mouth of Barnegat Inlet. But the expansive beaches that visitors can ride a shuttle to during the summer also exist because the borough bought all of the dune land after the March Storm of 1962. A requirement was also instituted to build homes 25 feet behind the dune line.
Bayview Terrace resident Linda Morris was at the Bayview Marina on Friday afternoon and was angry that she could not leave the island and return if she wanted to.
“Do we look like we’re in danger up here? They’re telling us if we drive on the roads we will be arrested. This is ridiculous that we can’t leave and come back home. Nothing happened up here. We were lucky,” Morris said.
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