Long Recovery From Superstorm Sandy on Jersey Shore

Ninety days after Superstorm Sandy swept into Keansburg, N.J., cleanup at a century-old boardwalk amusement park on Raritan Bay remains very much a work in progress.

The flooded out guts of what’s billed as America’s oldest spook house reveal what’s really scary there: The massive rebuilding task still ahead all across the region.

“We need more help,” said Ryan Kurek of Shores United Relief Foundation. “We need it quickly.”

Kurek runs the all-volunteer relief foundation created in Sandy’s wake.

“I don’t think Washington, I don’t think the entire country knows what we’re going through,” he said.

In Ortley Beach, which has just reopened to most residents, homes remain shattered on the battered Jersey shore. In hard hit Union Beach, red tape slowed half-finished repair jobs.

“I’m just fighting to try to get what I deserve to get my family in here,” Union Beach resident Nelson Rivera said. “I think it’s ridiculous and I think a lot of us around here are just waiting for insurance.”

Damage estimates at the Keansburg amusement park are $3 million to $4 million, and the owner said he has yet to see a dime coming in to help him rebuild.

“It’s coming out of future earnings,” Hank Gehlhaus said. “It’s a lot of bank loans. It’s a broad leap of faith!”

But Gehlhaus is determined to reopen -- at least partially -- by spring.

His workmen and volunteers have helped rescue pieces of the place, things News4 saw scattered in the muddy streets just two days after the storm, but rides still need repair, and flood-damaged buildings await renovation.

Gehlhaus also awaits word from officials about rebuilding the bayside berm that failed in the storm.

Through it all, he’s staying Jersey strong.

“There are people a lot worse off than us, people that have very little hope of rebuilding, people whose lives have been shattered,” he said. “Not us. We’ll be fine. We’ll rebuild. We are rebuilding.”

As many as 1,300 people are still out of their homes between Keansburg and neighboring Union Beach, a small portion of the 40,000 still displaced statewide.

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