A number of New Jersey natives at Boston University avoided much of the storm in their dorms, but found that their families’ homes were devastated after Hurricane Sandy pummeled the East Coast Monday.
Hurricane Sandy slammed Monmouth Beach, N.J., flooding neighborhoods with more than five feet of water. College of Arts and Sciences sophomore Katherine Peluso said her home experienced an exceptionally rough night.
“I was sent a picture of low tide and my house was surrounded by water,” Peluso said. “When high tide hit on Monday night, the high water line was five feet high at my back door.”
When the waters receded, she said she received photos showing how baldy the storm hit her house. River water brought in massive amount of sediment and caked the first floor, living room furniture and kitchen included, with a black layer of mud.
“It looks literally like someone went into my home and ransacked it,” she said. “My friend lost three cars in the flood and two cars in our neighborhood blew up.”
Peluso’s neighborhood sat on a comfortable peninsula surrounded by a river on one side and ocean on the other, she said.
Water flooded the area from all sides, brining sediment, debris and yachts.
“There were a couple of houses on my street in particular that were severely damaged,” Peluso said. “Boats just flooded from the marina and littered yards with luxury yachts and hit houses.”
Josh Grieco, a School of Hospitality Administration junior, said his family moved permanently into their summer home at Normandy Beach, N.J., this summer after they sold their northern New Jersey home. The home flooded but remained intact, he said.
“I have known that house my whole life, and it’s been in our family for 100 years,” Grieco said. “We did a bunch of renovations, brand new floors and appliances.”
Grieco’s father remained in the area to monitor the home despite admonitions to evacuate. He made it safely through the night and reported the extent of the damage to his family the next morning.
“My dad’s car, which is a Hummer, was pretty much totaled because the water came up so high,” Grieco said. “Our garage, which is separated from the house, was destroyed. The water came up about five feet.”
Prized family heirlooms, such as their 50-year-old jukebox, were lost in the storm surge, he said.
“This is pretty incredible and I’m pretty shocked — it hasn’t hit me yet,” Grieco said. “I think when I see it I’ll be pretty upset.”
Ryan Huff, a College of Communication sophomore, said he will be able to go home to Atlantic Highlands, N.J., this Thanksgiving, but most of his neighbors cannot say the same.
“My house is fine because I live on a hill, but we have a harbor in my town that is completely destroyed,” Huff said. “The town next to me is at sea level and a lot of my friends live there.”
Most people without generators in his area have no power, he said. His high school is now a shelter for people in need of a dry place to sleep if their home washed into the Atlantic. The surge brought enough sediment to completely fill beach clubs and cover highways with sand.
“My dad is on the first aid squad,” Huff said. “He told me this morning that he was doing search and rescues searching for any dead bodies.”
Huff said many of his friends are returning home to New Jersey to help their families out in this difficult time.
“It brought everyone together,” he said. “Everyone is out helping people they normally wouldn’t talk to.”
Although the bulk of the storm passed by early Tuesday morning, floodwaters are still receding. Residents throughout the state can look forward to electricity in seven to ten days, Huff said.
Grieco said his father was just rescued from his home, which is now unlivable, on Wednesday.
“Nobody I know got really harmed and my family is safe,” he said, “so I’m pretty thankful for that.”