By Jericka Duncan and Mike Dougherty
TRENTON, N.J. (CBS) — Most Long Beach Island residents displaced since Sandy struck two weeks ago were allowed to return home Saturday.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie lifted the mandatory evacuation order which means neighbors are now able to take as much time as they need to get their homes and lives back in order.
Driving over the bridge on to the barrier island, the destruction is almost overwhelming. Boats litter the side of a road like discarded toys. Several big parking lots on the island are now town dump sites. Piles of furniture stacked outside of homes will only add to the mountain of once prized possessions, that is now trash.
Saturday morning marked the beginning of the real cleanup effort.
“The upstairs roof looks like it’s about to cave in,” said Kim Walker of Long Beach Township. “We lost everything.”
Walker says the home she went back to is her primary residence. Members of the Local Fraternal Order of Police, and volunteers from Maryland and D.C., she says, have helped to rip up soaked carpet and remove heavy debris.
PHOTOS: Jersey Shore Damage
It was an emotional day for residents getting an up close and personal look at the destruction for the first time.
“It’s just trashed,” this man tells KYW Newsradio. “We’ll basically have to gut the house and go from there. The foundation is all messed up.”
The entire first floor of Bill Rick’s duplex in Brant Beach will have to be remodeled. Rick said he’s thankful he had flood insurance.
“Thank goodness for the beach replenishment they did, otherwise this whole area would have been gone,” he said.
Brett Mitstifer thought his boat was gone until he looked across the street.
“There was about five feet of water here, where we’re standing right now so, with the boat being up on concrete blocks, it had plenty of water to float right away and the wind blew it across the street,” said Mitstifer.
Meanwhile, Debra Edwards was trying to locate the owners of a jet ski and trash container that ended up in her back yard.
“It is registered, so we’re going to look to see who owns it,” said Edwards. “We have a trash container here of someone on the street we don’t know who it belongs to.”
Power has been restored for most of the island, while gas is not.
The town of Holgate, on the southern tip of the island, is still in bad shape and residents aren’t allowed down there yet.
Some residents in Surf City were fortunate enough to come away from Sandy nearly unscathed.