Eighteen days after Hurricane Sandy struck the region, the streets of Lacey appear cleaner. Less mattresses, dressers and flooring line the curbs but the damage that Sandy caused persists.
Ed Wojciechowski stood on the side of Laurel Boulevard shoveling. Debris washed up along the dock and although he lived around the corner, he was lending a hand.
“We were pretty fortunate,” he said of his own property. Some landscaping, fencing and roofing suffered damage. His boat, although tied down, had been pushed across the lagoon.
“It was devastating,” he said of Laurel Boulevard. “There was debris all over.”
People’s docks, furniture and items had been tossed about. Muck covered the streets. To get back to his home on Tuesday, he was transported by boat by a stranger, he said.
“In all of this, there was some kindness,” he said.
Wojciechowski evacuated on Sunday and returned on Tuesday. The family was without power for 11 days.
“Once power was restored, some normalcy was restored,” he said. “Everyone’s spirits are up and they’re getting back to normal.”
But some whose homes were severely damaged are far from returning to normal.
Garage doors and windows were broken at some homes on Laurel Boulevard.
Tom Cella’s bulkhead was destroyed as well as the stone patio surrounding his pool. When Patch arrived, his hot tub, which had been ripped out during the storm, was being crushed. He is currently having the bulkhead replaced and filling the yard with dirt.
“We’re moving forward. We’re getting work done on a priority basis. We’re rebuilding. What else can you do,” he said.
He praised employees of Home Depot and the Lacey United Methodist Church who helped rip out sheet-rock and get the moisture out of the downstairs level.
“If it wasn’t for all those hands, we’d be in a different situation. It’s been a blessing,” he said.
Robert Lawley is facing a similar situation. His pool collapsed as the storm surge pushed mounds of dirt into it. His hot tub was ripped out along with a portion of his deck. The bulkhead was also destroyed and the cement walkway and some siding was torn apart.
Where there used to be three-and-a-half feet of crawl space under the deck and home, now there’s one foot.
He evacuated on Sunday to his Weehawken residency with his wife. The Laurel Boulevard home is a summer home, although he spends much time there.
Insurance won’t cover the outside damage, he said. He’s looking at more than $150,000 in repairs.
“It won’t be normal for a year,” he said as repairs are under way. “I cried when I came down and saw it but I’m over it now. I just have to move forward.”
While the family puts new soil down, it will be a couple years before he’s able to install a new in-ground pool, he said.
“Would I ever sell it? Never in a million years. One storm came and beat us,” he said. “It’ll be as good as new when we’re finished.”
Ed Frankovich, who lives next door to Lawley, didn’t evacuate. He watched the water levels rise, as his property became an island. A WaveRunner from Beach Haven floated across his backyard.
“I’m glad I stayed. I wasn’t concerned about the water,” he said.
With a built up home, he didn’t receive water damage. The bulkhead was damaged along with his deck.
Glass doors pulsated throughout the storm so he moved furniture against them to keep them from bursting in, he said.
Frankovich stayed for Hurricane Floyd and Irene as well as the nor’easter in 1962.
“Without a doubt, this is the worst we experienced,” he said.
Frankovich has spent the last two weeks helping his children at their homes in Bayville and LBI, which are uninhabitable. The family is far from normal life, he said.
“We’ve been really fortunate relative to some of the damage others got,” he said. “It’s a shame.”