By Lauren Wanko
In one giant bite, massive pieces of a Mantoloking home are torn apart. That’s after it sat for the past six months virtually intact in the Barnegat Bay.
“Basically we’re taking this house apart a piece at a time with a grapple barge,” said Crowder Gulf Operations Director Buddy Young. “It reaches up grabs a piece of the house, pulls it off and stacks it on the barge.”
The debris is eventually loaded on trucks and carted to a landfill. Young thinks this is the second floor of the home.
“We’ll keep fishing down and grabbing and pulling it up until we can’t find any more. Then we’ll bring our sonar boat and sonar it to make sure we got everything that’s down there,” Young explained.
The home is one of eight Sandy swept into New Jersey’s waterways completely intact in Monmouth, Ocean and Cumberland counties. All of those homes should be demolished by the end of June.
We boarded the Mantoloking Police boat for a closer look. The giant claw rips through the roof, pulling apart not just the home, but the memories that were made in them.
“The owner of the house isn’t here,” said Mantoloking Mayor George Nebel. “He felt it’s too emotional for him to see his house being torn down.”
It’s emotional for neighbor Dudley Ryan.
“It’s a constant reminder of the strength of that storm system,” Ryan said. “It’s also a reminder of how fortunate and lucky we were, but watching it come down is a real sense of progress.”
Another 49 homes will be demolished in Mantoloking. That work should completed by July 1. FEMA will cover 75 percent of the cost. The borough will pick up the rest.
“I think Mantoloking was hardest hit of any town on the shore. That’s why you see the devastation along Route 35. It brings tears to my eyes still every time I drive down Route 35,” Nebel said.
DEP Commissioner Bob Martin says phase two of the recovery process has begun — the long-term rebuilding effort.
“We’re focusing on putting money back out on the street, putting lives back together and getting homes put back together and communities back together for the long haul,” Martin said.
Although the recovery process is underway, Mantoloking’s mayor estimates it will take anywhere from three to five years to get back to normal. And as for this home, demolition should be completed by tomorrow afternoon.