New Jersey Starts Clean-Up Of Jersey Shore

Along the beaches of New Jersey, a dump truck driver spent hours trying to help people who were stuck.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

In New Jersey, where the storm made landfall, more than 2 million homes and businesses lost power and many lost much more than that. NPR's Joel Rose sent this snapshot of the destruction in one Jersey Shore town.

JOEL ROSE, BYLINE: Five feet of cold, brackish water blocked one of the main roads into Point Pleasant, New Jersey, a beach town about 50 miles north of Atlantic City. So if you wanted to see the worst of the damage Sandy did here, you'd either need a boat or a very big truck.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Can I just hold on and go with you over there?

SCOTT PICCIONE: You can jump in the truck.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Yeah?

PICCIONE: Yeah.

ROSE: Scott Piccione happens to own a big dump truck, which he was using to ferry people to communities near the beach that are still cut off from the mainland. He drove the truck through several hundred yards of flooded highway, past dozens of swamped houses and businesses, to a drier spot where sand dunes seem to spill out into the middle of the road.

PICCIONE: Wow. Holy crap. That's pretty insane. This is the highway right here, OK? So the State Highway 35 goes to - around. This is all sand. So it's all pushed up.

ROSE: Four feet of sand covered the roadway left behind when the storm surge from Sandy receded. The storm moved whole houses off their foundations. And it tossed boats, concrete blocks and other large objects around like dice.

KEN GLASS: This looked like the Mississippi River last night when the ocean broke through.

ROSE: Ken Glass rode out the storm along with his stepdaughter Elizabeth Fallavine(ph) and her son.

ELIZABETH FALLAVINE: The water was just absolutely flowing like a river like I've never even seen. Debris flying, going down the...

GLASS: Boats...

FALLAVINE: It was moving so fast. Boats.

GLASS: ...fences, concrete blocks.

FALLAVINE: Gutters.

ROSE: They were standing in front of their house, which is also a bed and breakfast, about two blocks from the beach. Fallavine says the storm filled the street in front of their house with sand and ripped through the basement.

FALLAVINE: A lot of valuables, a lot of memories, a lot of old stuff down there. But it's all replaceable. You know, our house is still here. We're still here. Our family's here, and those are things that can't be replaced.

ROSE: Glass and Fallavine weren't the only ones who ignored mandatory evacuation orders from public officials to move to higher ground.

BOB HATCH: I think myself and a lot of people may have underestimated this one a little bit. This is crazy.

ROSE: Bob and Michelle Hatch managed to survive the storm unscathed, along with their guinea pig. But they know that some of their neighbors weren't so lucky.

HATCH: There's no more roads. The houses are gone. There is no street anymore.

(LAUGHTER)

HATCH: The street is sand.

MICHELLE HATCH: We're never staying again after this.

(LAUGHTER)

HATCH: Never again. Never again.

ROSE: With that, Bob and Michelle Hatch hopped in the back of the dump truck and caught a ride out to higher ground. They didn't know when they'd be able to go home. Joel Rose, NPR News, New Jersey.

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