We are almost one entire year removed from Hurricane Sandy, but the devastation she left behind continues, especially in one Cape May County community. A year later, there are two very different stories playing out there.
A year after Sandy, and in the Reed's Beach section of Middle Township, very little has changed. Homes that have been neglected are now even more exposed, and slowly being swallowed by the Delaware Bay.
“Sandy by far, was the worst that I've ever seen here.” And spending every summer of his life in the small community, Fred McCurry has seen a lot. The house that was in his family since the 30’s was also destroyed in the storm - he's one of the few there that've moved forward. Demolishing, raising and soon rebuilding, using a lot of his own money to do so. “It's a million dollar view, this is a hidden treasure here,” he said, “when things happen, we just rebuild - pick ourselves up and rebuild.”
“A glimmer of hope,” said Mayor Dan Lockwood, looking at the new pilings in place, “seeing that it is actually possible to move forward.” But with some houses left completely untouched an entire year later, the mayor says the township does have the authority to get involved, and will soon have to consider doing so. “Our objective is to try to make sure these people have access to resources to be able to rebuild their houses,” said Lockwood, “or to be able to make that decision on their own and knock the house down.”
The mayor says since they are secondary residences, most grants won't help out with the rebuilding process, and while the city could demolish and then put a lien on the property, it might not be the best course of action. “The problem with some of the houses is that you may not be able to rebuild them if you knock them down,” said Lockwood, “so there's very little value to the property after that, so you have to balance spending tax payer money with the health and public safety issues.”
But McCurry says having a property here is priceless and he never even questioned whether or not to do whatever it took to rebuild. “Love the place, been here all my life.”
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