By Lauren Wanko
Point Pleasant Beach motel owner Sam Ippolito says he’s never seen the kind of damage and destruction in the seaside community that Hurricane Sandy brought.
“I mean I stayed here myself through the storm and it’s one of the scariest things I ever did in my life,” recalled Ippolito.
The Driftwood Motel’s seawall got destroyed by the storm. Water poured through the courtyard and all 18 hotel rooms on the first level were wiped out by Sandy. The management is now left with shattered windows and ruined furniture.
Ippolito said all the furniture got pushed into the pool. But those items can be replaced. Ippolito worries more about how this damage will impact the summer tourism season.
“It’s kinda tough because so many things got damaged and lost, you don’t know if people are going to come down this year,” Ippolito said. “What happens is they’ll pick a different place and people don’t come back after that.”
A few blocks away, Perks Café officially reopened today. Aristotle Alafouzos, the café’s owner, insists Sandy won’t affect business in Point Pleasant Beach this summer. “Our beach, and Jenkinson’s and all the rides and everything will be in full function for sure for the summer. There’s no doubt about it,” he said.
On the boardwalk, equipment operators work through the rain to make repairs. A spokesperson from Jenkinson’s Boardwalk says their boardwalk properties fared well, but the basements flooded and they lost their inventory. The pier at Martell’s Tiki Bar was washed away by the storm.
But businesses weren’t Sandy’s only target. The contents of almost every home on one block now sit in piles on the street as homeowners and construction crews continue to assess the damage and empty out houses.
Bridget Hansen owns a second home in Point Pleasant Beach. She saw her block for the first time today. Driving through town brought her to tears.
“I had to pull over,” Hansen said. “It just takes your breath away. You feel bad for people that live here full time.”
Everything is being tossed on the sidewalk — chairs, couches, mattresses. There’s still no power on some blocks. A team was working with a generator to demo a home.
“It’s terrible, all the furniture is ruined, everything on the floor, the smell is horrible, it’s just really the houses are just ruined,” said contractor Mike Tinsman.
But people’s spirits aren’t ruined and they vow to rebuild and come back stronger.