As you drive down Beach Boulevard in Forked River, you come to a police checkpoint where an officer confirms your proof of residency before sending you down the remainder of the road where Hurricane Sandy decimated homes.
Residents go into their homes just to come back out with one more item that was soiled by storm surge and would be left at the curb.
“Yard sale!” one resident jokingly called out.
Personal belongings are beginning to line the street as residents return to find their homes severely damaged if not totaled after evacuating from what is said to be a 100-year storm.
“It was a sight to see,” Monica Kuhn said. “It was awful”
Kuhn returned to a home full of muck, water and seaweed on Tuesday and has been working with 10 others to clean and start over. Mud was approximately two feet high inside the home; seaweed was up to the windows.
She as well as many other Beach Boulevard residents are finding neighbors items on their property — boats, furniture, lawn ornaments, certificates and more.
Kuhn’s friends and family have been assisting to rip carpets out and rummage through damaged possessions.
“We’re trying to save everything we can,” Kuhn said.
Which does not seem like much as their curbside pile is more than 15 feet long and growing.
When asked what’s next and how the family will move on from this, Kuhn said, “I have no idea.”
Her family is currently split up, staying among different friends and family members.
“It’s not a comfortable feeling. This is my home,” she said. “Everything is garbage.”
Some homes higher up were able to withstand the storm. Lisa and Patrick O’Hara actually chose to stay in their home one block from Beach Boulevard rather than evacuate.
“It’s a sturdy house,” said Lisa O’Hara, who has lived there for 22 years.
The couple actually walked around the neighborhood until dark on Monday when they took shelter in their home.
The first floor, which is used for storage, sustained flooding. The O’Hara’s inhabited the second floor of the home. But because the house is partially up on wooden beams, the couple felt the wind.
“It was really windy. You feel it move,” Lisa O’Hara said.
With a wind cage, she determined winds hit more than 80 mph.
“We lost some stuff but nothing so horrible,” she said. “You’re not going to beat that kind of water.”
The homes hit by the Barnegat Bay carry a stench as the saltwater sets into the structures and begins to warp cabinets and furniture.
That’s the smell that carried throughout Patricia Doyle’s house.
Doyle drove slowly down the road and braced herself as she returned home for the first time since the storm.
“The lawns looked like a war zone,” she said. “I really needed moral support to walk through the door.”
Doyle, too, had a house damaged by 18 inches of water. She had to have all her wooden floors torn out. A portion of her back wall had been pushed in.
“I’m alive and my cats are alive,” she said.
Traveling even further down Beach Boulevard, are two homes missing most of the backsides.
Mike Van Pelt was renting a portion of one of those homes. After returning home on Wednesday, he found 18 inches of water, muck and his bathroom in his bedroom.
“I lost a lot of my belongings,” he said.
Powerful tidal waves swept through the back of the house and moved his bed to the other side of the room.
“There’s really nothing you can do but take your valuables,” he said. “You can’t be upset. At least we’re still alive. Our house can be replaced.”