The barrier islands in Ocean County, New Jersey, were hit hard by Hurricane Sandy. Rescues of those stranded on the barrier islands were continuing Wednesday.
Numerous houses were destroyed in Brick Township and Mantoloking.
The storm surge swept some houses in Mantoloking right off their foundations, Ocean County spokesman Rich Peterson said.
“A channel was created from the ocean to the bay and it went right down to the Mantoloking Bridge. A house was smashed onto the entrance of the bridge. The house was destroyed,” he said. “There were also several houses floating in the bay near the bridge.”
That bridge and others going to the barrier islands are closed. Peterson says tons of sand and debris that washed ashore are making the area impassable.
Fires were visible on the barrier islands in Brick Township near Mantoloking
“Houses that had already been destroyed or very seriously damaged, the exposed natural gas lines ignited,” Peterson said. “So while, especially at night, it looked like there were houses burning, in a lot of cases these were just the gas lines.”
After more than 400 people were rescued from the barrier islands, the rescue operations are ongoing.
Meanwhile, further north in Monmouth County, Belmar Mayor Matt Doherty said rescues are the town’s top priority. Water rescue teams have been using boats, jet skis and swimming to homes in neck-deep water to reach and transport more than 100 people.
Doherty said cleaning up the debris the storm left behind is also a big concern.
“The boardwalk is all over Ocean Avenue and further inland up three to four blocks from the ocean. Some parts of Ocean Avenue have two feet of sand,” he said. “W have to push the sand back onto the beach.”
Doherty says Belmar has contracted with a company that pumped water out of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. The firm is able to pump water out of flooded areas and back into the Atlantic at the rate of 24,000 gallons a minute.