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Surviving Sandy in Brigantine, New Jersey

Debris is piled up in front of the arcade at the heavily damaged Keansburg Amusement Park in New Jersey after Superstorm Sandy swept across the region.

On this street in Brigantine, New Jersey, boats have spilled into people’s yards.

"We’ve got a couple that are wedged between the foundation and the house next to me. I don’t know the structure damage yet," says New Jersey resident Dee Brown.

Just north of Atlantic City, Brigantine is an island town with fewer than 10,000 year-round residents. The boats washed up from the marina right across the street from Dee Brown’s house, but Brown looks beyond the boats -- really just an inconvenience -- out to the water.

"My husband is a commercial crabber. We have 200 crab traps still out in the bay. We couldn’t get them in fast enough," she says.

Brown doesn’t know about their two boats yet. She guesses the business -- Crab Daddy -- has suffered more than $50,000 in damages. Brown’s hoping FEMA will help, but she’s not sure of that either.

"Maybe they’ll do a low interest loan, I don’t know exactly how they are going to help us out, I mean it’s fishery. It’s food. They got to help us out," she says.

Sue and John Ferguson had the bay, and it left a mark. "Dead fish…fishy smell. There’s a lot of fish around are house. They are all dead," they say.

The water went up a few inches at the Ferguson’s. It doesn’t sound like much, but it is. "Water damage to the dry wall, that creeps up the wall, so you’ve got to rip that off. And the insulation, of course is wet inside there, and that all has to be cut…And the floor is all hardwood and that’s buckling already. That’s all got to be replaced," says John Ferguson.

Fortunately, John is a builder and can take care of their home, but when it comes to his job -- he specializes in new construction -- John expects things might get a little tight.

"I am sure cost of plywood, materials are just going to go up. Labor is going to be scarce, because guys are going to be more likely to go to a homeowner that is willing to pay them a lot of money for just a day’s work. Rather than come and work for me," he says.

Sue has seen floods and storms before, and she’s got a sense of resolve and fatigue: "We will survive. But a lot of people, it’s going to be a long, long, long time before we get everything cleaned up," she says.

With all the work ahead, she says she’s glad she’s home.

About the author

Dan Gorenstein is the senior reporter for Marketplace’s Health Desk. You can follow him on Twitter @dmgorenstein.
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To the Fergusons:

Please consider living with other than a hardwood floor (or maybe having the floor on top of an alternate foundation, for simpler future re-do. Try concrete. There are some interesting reference books for concrete architecture made stylish. Concrete reinforcing itself in water is why we have hundred year old bridges that carry trains still standing. The definition of crazy is doing the same
thing over and over...

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