From overwashing ocean waves in Ortley Beach to the bay rising higher than anyone could have imagined in East Dover and Green Island, Toms River's waterside neighborhoods continue to show signs of devastation a year after Hurricane Sandy pummeled the Jersey Shore. Toms River is one of New Jersey's largest examples of the paradox of the recovery -– contractors working nonstop to repair homes, and crews rebuilding streets and infrastructure in some places; and in others, rows of houses looking as if they were abandoned with their former residents wondering how, and if, they can rebuild their lives.
By the numbers, the slow recovery of what is one of New Jersey's largest suburban municipalities is staggering. The township has issued a total of 956 demolition permits, 428 of which have been completed. "We have teams going around every day now, it's going to be in the hundreds," said Mayor Thomas Kelaher, of the number of homes that have been and will be identified by officials in the township as ones which must be demolished. (At right, a home in Ortley Beach.)
The situation in some neighborhoods is getting worse a year after the storm, as some bewildered residents have left their homes untouched since the storm, likely lacking the resources required to rebuild. "A lot of people have abandoned or, unfortunately, walked away from their homes," said Kelaher. "Neighbors are saying, 'The house next door, I haven't seen the guys since the Saturday after the storm. The place is overgrown, there are mice under the deck.' "