By Don Tagala, ABS CBN North America Bureau
May 16, 2013
JERSEY SHORE, NEW JERSEY – For the past six months since Super Storm Sandy plowed into New Jersey’s coastline, the goal of Seaside Heights community is to rebuild the boardwalk popularly seen on MTV’s reality show “Jersey Shore” by Memorial Day.
Today, a section of the wooden walkway has re-opened after contractors here worked non-stop and ahead of schedule. Some businesses are again operating and customers are back strolling along the boardwalk.
The Kulessa’s home is just a few minutes away from the Seaside Heights boardwalk. Six months ago, their area was under at least 3 feet of water.
“At 11:10 on the night of the 29th we got hit with what was essentially a tsunami. I’ve never seen anything like it,” homeowner Rob Kulessa said.
“I felt devastated, we got water all over the house, it was up to the window sill, all the first floor is ruined,” wife Arlene Kulessa recalled.
The Kulessa’s say, losing thousands of dollars worth of electronics, household appliances and furniture was tough, but rebuilding was even tougher.
“We were told that we weren’t eligible for any kind of grants or assistance,” said Rob Kulessa.
“We’re 98% done with all the help of our families and friends who rescued us,” added Arlene.
The Kulessa’s were lucky compared to dozens of demolished homes just a few minutes away from theirs.
Among the 2,600 homes in Ortley Beach less than 60 escaped damage from Sandy’s wrath, according to township officials.
More than 200 homes were destroyed but the community is here to help.
In Toms River, New Jersey, the Filipino-American Community Development Center with the help of balladeer Bert Nievera is raising funds to benefit the “Restore the Shore Project.”
“I’m very happy to be able to help in some way because its such a great cause,” Nievera said.
After receiving help from their community, the Kulessa’s are paying it forward and are also supporting the campaign to help other families who are still recovering from Sandy’s blow.