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Return to Ortley Beach Leaves Residents Overcome with Emotion

By Lauren Wanko
NJ Today

More than 1,100 Ortley Beach residents stood on long lines today at the Bell Crest Plaza in Toms River anxiously waiting to see, for the first time since Sandy hit, what’s left of their homes. Frances Daletto never imagined waiting on a line to board a bus just to get to her home.

“Tuesday I called Dover Township Police and they told me my apartment was under water and I cried and cried and I’ve been crying since. It’s just so hard. Everything is back there. I lost everything. I only have the clothes that’s on my back,” Daletto of Ortley Beach said.

Residents couldn’t prepare themselves for what they were about the see. John Testa lost everything in his home. “When I came back my initial thought was I was going to able to salvage something from the home but there’s nothing to salvage. It’s a complete and total loss,” he said.

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Testa brought a suitcase to collect his belongings. “And I leave with my mother’s medication, some important papers,” he said. “I came with a suitcase empty and I leave with memories.”

Around the block, homeowner Tom Walls is overwhelmed. “It is devastating. Not sure what we’re going to do, we have to think about it,” he said. “It’s worse then we thought it was so it’s a terrible experience.”

Bruce Burgess is Captain of the Toms River Police Department. “We have a plan in the police department over the course of the next six days, we anticipate getting everybody in Ortley Beach back to see their house,” he said. “Ortley Beach has about 2,400 homes and we’re trying to get everybody back over there so it’s going to be a bit of a challenge, but I think it’s going to work out.”

The police say sinkholes are scattered throughout Ortley Beach making it especially dangerous to navigate throughout the seaside community. One sinkhole is in front of a homeowner’s garage. It’s just one of the problems folks in this community are faced with today.

Kathy Krieger says not being able to access her garage is the least of her problems. The inside of her home is destroyed. “You leave your house one way and then all of a sudden you come in and everything’s upside down, all over, across from one side of the room to the other,” she said.

As for Testa, he’s determined to rebuild. “I hope that everything falls into place and we can because I mean this is home,” he said.