From the Record:
Maureen and Bill Craft put “backbreaking” work and thousands of dollars into fixing their Little Egg Harbor Shore home after it was flooded during Superstorm Sandy, but Maureen now says if she had to do it over again, she’d walk away.
Meg Huber spent thousands of dollars to repair her tiny Ocean Beach cottage after the storm, but now fears she and her husband will have to sell the home because they can’t afford to elevate it.
Rick Guglielmo despaired after the storm, but it allowed him to buy a beachfront property at a reduced price in Ortley Beach.
The three are among the thousands of property owners whose lives changed when Sandy sent floodwaters surging across the Jersey Shore. Three years after Sandy hit, the storm is just a memory along most of the coast. But in Ortley Beach, Mantoloking, Manahawkin and other hard-hit areas, the effects of the storm are still obvious in the mix of new homes, derelict cottages and empty lots.
Amid the buzz of construction, the Shore is coming back, but it’s going to take a few years to return fully — and it will be a different Shore. Many of the small, affordable cottages that squatted on the sand have been elevated or replaced by new, taller buildings, constructed to withstand hurricane waters and winds.
“The old beach bungalow is basically gone. The Shore has changed,” said Lee Childers of Childers Sotheby’s International Realty in Normandy Beach, which has six offices at the Shore.
The people at the Shore also have changed. Faced with the financial or emotional cost of repairs, many longtime homeowners are selling their properties..
“There are a lot of people out there who can’t afford to rebuild,” said Ed Walters of the ReBuild division of Barnegat-based Walters Group, which has constructed more than 200 houses to replace those destroyed in the storm. “A lot of those properties are coming on the market and people are buying them. There’s going to be a changeover of people selling and new people coming in to all these areas.”
“These quaint little bungalows — they’re cute, but people want to bring friends and family to the beach,” Walters said. “That’s one of the biggest gripes. Everybody was sleeping in sleeping bags. … It’s just not practical to have a home one foot off the ground. It’s inevitable that it’s going to flood.”