Rebuilding Highlands

The carnage wrought by Sandy—up to eight feet of water inundated downtown—has prompted what might best be described as an existential crisis, with residents, business owners and public officials confronting daunting questions about the kind of place Highlands will be in the future.

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Superstorm Sandy, which has left millions without power or water, continues to affect business and daily life in Highlands, New Jersey.
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Highlands, a modest fishing/commuter community known mostly for its seafood restaurants, doesn’t get as much attention as other communities along coastal New York and New Jersey that were battered by Sandy. The aftermath of Sandy has many residents trying figure out how to get safely back in their homes before the next big storm arrives.
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Regina Yahara-Splain outside her home on Nov. 1, 2012, after Sandy sent boats from a nearby marina into her front yard. A significant proportion of property owners have raided their savings to start repairs while negotiating a dizzying tangle of red tape required by banks, insurance companies and the government.
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Regina Yahara-Splain outside her house on Shrewsbury Avenue on May 3, 2013. She is now in the process of rebuilding and raising her home.
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Regina Yahara-Splain inside her gutted home, which is in the process of being rebuilt and raised. The carnage wrought by Sandy—up to eight feet of water inundated downtown—has prompted what might best be described as an existential crisis, with residents, business owners and public officials confronting daunting questions about the kind of place Highlands will be for those who remain, and how it will survive.
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Tracey Johnson and her fiance, Paul Merker, on the steps outside the house on Fourth Street in Highlands. The place is gutted, but they've been living there for months, like campers.
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Paul Merker outside his home on Fourth Street. The stress of living in a gutted house has made him physically ill and an emotional wreck.
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Tracey Johnson cooking in the kitchen of her gutted home. Her sink is propped up by two-by-fours.
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A house in Highlands, N.J. that is being lifted to keep it safe from future flooding.
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Putting a house on stilts will save a house from flood waters, but it also requires new sets of stairs—and potential problems for the elderly and disabled.
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Leo Cervantes, owner of Chilangos restaurant on Bay Avenue, says he's a survivor, and is taking that attitude to rebuilding his business.
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Bronwyn Link, a local EMT, spend several nights in a shelter before returning to find her Central Avenue severely damaged by flood. With the help of volunteers, she is rebuilding.
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