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Working for pizza

Meghan Michaux lives in Lavallette Beach, New Jersey, and since 2005 she has owned Meg’s Grill. She decided to ride out Hurricane Sandy in her beach house with her husband and two children, and while her home received no damage, her business was severely damaged. With the help of contractors and her employees, Meg’s Grill was one of the first businesses to reopen in Lavallette after Hurricane Sandy. Since then, Meg has continued to serve her community and is rooting for her fellow residents and business owners to come back to the shore as quickly as possible.

Paying it Forward

Gina Cavallo lives in West Orange, New Jersey. In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, she used her background in healthcare to help displaced homeowners in Ortley Beach and Lavallette. Seeing the degree of need, she founded the Paying It Forward Foundation, a grassroots initiative to provide relief assistance to those affected by the storm. Over the past two years, Paying It Forward has helped numerous families affected by Sandy to restore their homes and rebuild their lives. In this narrative, Gina discusses her work on the shore and the challenges of the rebuilding process.

It's detour city

Elizabeth Phillips was born in Newark, New Jersey but moved to Lavallette in 1974, where she was living at the time of Hurricane Sandy. She evacuated right before the storm, but she wasn’t able to return to her flooded home until three weeks later. In her narrative, she discusses challenges that are common to many on the shore struggling to recover, such as negotiating with insurance companies, applying for grants, and making sense of new building regulations.

The Upper Shores Library

June Schneider has worked for the Ocean County Library System since 1991. Currently she serves as Branch Manager of the Upper Shores Library in Lavallette and the Reading Center in Bay Head. A native of New York, she has lived on the Jersey Shore since 1986. Hurricane Sandy spared her home in Pine Beach, but it caused tremendous damage to the two branch libraries, resulting in them being closed for months. In her narrative, June speaks of how the storm has affected the libraries as well as the communities they serve. She also talks about the recovery efforts she has organized in collaboration with FEMA and the library system that earned her the ‘Grace under Pressure’ Award at her annual staff development day.

The disaster after the disaster is worse than the disaster

Michele Donato is an attorney who lives and works in Lavallette, New Jersey. She represents several community associations and individuals on the barrier island who are struggling to rebuild. In her narrative, she talks about her work in representing clients who are facing delays and difficulties in obtaining land use and construction approvals. She discusses how funding programs are tangled and confused, how recovery has been very slow and inconsistent, and how the bureaucratic disaster that followed after the storm continues to leave many parts of the shore in disrepair, with incomplete houses, vacant properties, and a less than robust economy. She also mentions how the National Guard, without declaration, forced her family to leave their home after the storm.

We didn't win the lottery

Lisa and Wayne Howell live in Branchburg, New Jersey, but like many New Jerseyans they have long spent much of their summers on the Jersey Shore. Since 1997, they have owned a summer home in Lavallette, just across the street from the bay. Flooding from Hurricane Sandy caused severe damage to their beach home and made nearly all their possessions unsalvageable. In its aftermath, the storm left them with a tough decision: fix their existing house and raise it, or knock it down and start anew. In this narrative, Lisa and Wayne discuss the tough choice they made, as well as their hopes of returning to Lavallette by July 2015.