OR ELIZE VOLANTE, Union
Beach has always been home.
The small Monmouth County
community on Raritan Bay
is where, at age 13, she fell for Peter
Volante, the boy who would become
her husband. In 2003, she and Volante
moved into her childhood home on
Henry Street, a few blocks from the
bay, to raise a family of their own.
Then, in 2012, Hurricane Sandy
battered New Jersey, swamping the
house in 6 feet of water. They tried to
save it, but ultimately, the home Elize
treasured had to be razed.
“By the time we gutted the whole
house, everything was already
moldy,” says the mother of three. “We
decided to make it a clean slate for
whoever wants to buy the property.
It’s still for sale.”
It’s been three years since Sandy
crashed into the Jersey Shore. Its north-
east winds and a high tide combined to
send walls of water into the bays and
creeks. The water surged over dunes,
berms and sea walls. Sandy left behind
more than $30 billion in damage to
homes, businesses and infrastructure, and
an estimated $20 billion in lost business.
The wind and water punched through
walls, knocked down trees, buckled
streets and dumped Seaside Heights’ Jet
Star roller coaster into the sea.
Today, seasonal visitors see a Shore
that superficially appears normal. But
look closer and Sandy’s scars remain
evident. From the Raritan Bay down
the coastline to the southern tip of
Long Beach Island, the devastation and
displacement can be observed in the
empty lots, unoccupied homes and re-
shaped beaches. A glut of for-sale signs
punctuates the scene.
In communities where renovation
has occurred, single-story ranches,
Cape Cods and bungalows that once
sat at ground level now perch atop
cinderblocks or pilings to survive future floods. New homes on stilts tower
above the more modest originals.
The Army Corps of Engineers
has been busy the past two winters
rebuilding and fortifying New Jersey’s
beaches and dunes; the corps plans to
build even more fortifications against
the next big storm.
Storm Without End
Three years after Sandy struck New Jersey, those devastated by the hurricane
continue to grapple with lost homes and red tape. By Matthew McGrath
NO GOING HOME: The Volante family tried to save their
Union Beach home after Hurricane Sandy, but gave up and
moved to Belford. Their Union
Beach house was razed and
the property is still for sale.