Towards a Resilient Rhode Island:

Responding to climate change with leadership, innovation, and economic development

Hurricane Sandy Story

Joanne Megill, Manahawkin, NJ

A summer home is a home where many families hope to experience the most pleasurable and carefree moments of their lives. That’s how Joanne Megill felt about owning a summer home before hurricane Sandy. Her husband, Ray, and their 3 children, along with all of their family and friends have had the best of times at their little 1,300 square foot home. It was situated on the beautiful lagoons of Manahawkin, NJ. According to Joanne, on Fridays, after a long day at work, her family would start their migration down to the Jersey shore. It was their favorite place to be, “You can imagine what it was like for us to see the condition of our home after hurricane Sandy passed. We were one of the first families allowed back in to see the devastation.”

The hurricane filled their home with 4 feet of water, which found its way into their home’s appliances. “I opened my washer and there was sea water in it, same goes for the stove and refrigerator. It was a mess.” As a result, the family had to throw everything away and strip the house down to its studs. The outside of their property had wave runners, similar to jet skis, perched on the lawn that they did not own. Several much larger boats also got loose from their docks and ended up on their neighbor’s properties. Random debris were everywhere in sight. “We had 4 large pallets of construction material washed up in our back-yard. Luckily, we knew of only one home that was under construction at the time, so my husband walked over to tell the folks we had their house’s material.”

“Nothing compares to the mental anguish that we all endured. Walls can be repainted, couches can be replaced, you can buy all new appliances, but financially this was a setback for many folks.” Joanne explained that the damaged summer homes in her location were not all “beach front” properties, but rather, many of them were several streets inland. She described the owners of these houses as middle-income citizens who used the area for their second home purchases. “Second home, meaning that there was no assistance from FEMA or any part of the government. It also meant escalated insurance premiums, and in some cases, mandatory requirements to raise the homes.” This put a lot of people in a compromising situation, forcing them to make desperate and unfortunate decisions. Joanne explained that a large amount of these families had to literally walk away from their homes because they couldn’t afford the repairs or the soon-to-be insurance premiums. Joanne and her family will never forget the wonderful moments that they shared at the Jersey Shore, but hurricane Sandy left a mark on their local community that know will take years to fix.