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One Year Later: Back Home [AUDIO]

Superstorm Sandy, to many New Jerseyans, meant some minor damage and a few cold nights in the dark. For thousands of other residents, however, the struggle has lasted much longer. On this one-year anniversary of the storm’s landfall in New Jersey, Townsquare Media speaks with a couple who finally has a place to call home.

Melissa Heugle at her new Union Beach home
Melissa Heugle checks on construction of her new Union Beach home (Facebook)

Chris and Melissa Heugle lost their Union Beach house on Oct. 29, 2012. The Raritan Bay, which they couldn’t even see from their home if they tried, barreled down the streets and began flooding the home through the doors, windows, sinks and toilets. The couple, plus their two young children, were still inside.

“Our foundation caved in. The floor underneath us buckled,” said Melissa. “It was the worst day of my life.”

“That feeling – I would not wish upon anybody,” added Chris. “Being so helpless in a house surrounded by water.”

The family’s savior was a rowboat in complete darkness. Their home was later deemed uninhabitable, and they watched crews tear it to pieces on Jan. 21.

Like many others who lost the homes they loved, the Heugles decided to rebuild on the same property, a few feet above ground level. In the course of “starting over,” Chris and Melissa were no strangers to the agonizing insurance process. They also took advantage of state-sponsored grant programs, while moving from temporary home to temporary home.

“We broke ground on July 1st, and we moved in on September 27th, but the process from the storm to today is almost a year long,” Melissa said.

The Heugles can consider themselves lucky, though, as so many New Jersey families still search for answers, battle for damage compensation and, at this point, can only dream of a permanent roof over their heads.

“We’re at a better house, but I wouldn’t give up the last year of my life for it,” explained Chris, who said if there’s one thing he and his family gained since Sandy, it’s patience.

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