Conditions were still too hazardous Wednesday to allow residents back on Long Beach Island, where cars were buried in 5 feet of sand, crews used heavy equipment to clear the roads and National Guard members went door-to-door, checking on residents who stayed.
One bright spot: The newer oceanfront homes built on 35-foot pilings did what they were supposed to do: upper floors remained intact, though many were damaged. About a dozen older homes were swept off their foundations, according to Long Beach Township Mayor Joe Mancini.
Some residents believe that beach replenishment projects that built up dunes protected the southern end of Long Beach Island.
"I felt pretty protected in my house because of all the beach replenishment," said Will Randall-Goodwin, a 21-year-old Rutgers University student who stayed in his family's home through the storm.
Long Beach Island and its northern neighbor still lacked sewer service, water, gas and electricity. The stench of natural gas hung in the air, indicating broken lines.
In Brick Township, as many as 10 homes caught fire during the storm, when they were knocked from their foundations, rupturing gas lines, said Brick Township Police Sgt. Keith Reinhard. Some gas lines continued to burn on Wednesday. In Mantoloking, a car from a kiddie ride on the Seaside Heights boardwalk 10 miles south had washed up and was marooned in the sand.
Peter Green said a neighbor told him she saw a group of youths carrying away golf clubs they had stolen from his wrecked home.
"There are people looting this area, and there's no law and order right now. They feel it's their opportunity," he said.
Police appeared to be doing what they could to protect the damaged multimillion-dollar homes.
A machine-gun carrying police officer patrolled the sand and questioned a group of kids with backpacks, asking if they'd taken anything. They said no, and their father vouched for them.
A passerby then asked the officer, "Is this Mantoloking?"
"It was," came the reply.