So how is this for terrible start to the New Year?  You wake up early in the morning to the sound of your 84-year old grandmother screaming. 

Inside of Jean Lane's Lavallette home after January 1 fire (Emily Matthews)

Your first thought is that she’s fallen and as it turns out you only wish that were the case.  What you find is she’s outside her bedroom with a dishpan full of water because her bed is on fire and she’s trying to put out the flames.

That is what Emily Matthews found and saw on January 1st and after quickly getting her grandmother out of the house she called 911 because by that time flames had engulfed the single-story structure in Lavallette.

Despite the efforts of firefighters the house and everything inside it was destroyed.  Not only were all the contents lost but so was a 7-month old kitten that meant much to the family.  Any fire of this magnitude is heartbreaking but what makes this one even worse was that longtime Lavallette resident Jean Lane had only moved back in her house in the spring.

Like many in the town she was a victim of Sandy and basically exhausted her life savings to rebuild her home on Elizabeth Avenue after the storm.  Fortunately a family member who is a contractor was able to do much of the building himself and despite very little help from FEMA the project was completed in less than six months.  Now they have to start all over again as once the insurance adjustors complete their work the house will be knocked down and it’s back to the beginning.

Inside of Jean Lane's Lavallette home after January 1 fire (Emily Lanes)

Homeowners insurance will help but there are still plenty of holes to fill. Matthews has returned to her mother’s house in Beachwood while her grandmother is staying with family members in Bayville.  Lane has every intention of returning to her home in the town she loves.

Despite her age she is very active in the community and known by just about everyone.  She was the crossing guard at the local elementary school for years, always worked the polls on Election Day and has volunteered with several organizations.


People in Lavallette have shown their love by donating money and gift cards though the local ladies auxiliary at 102 New Brunswick Avenue.  That is the only thing they are accepting as clothes and shelter are covered for now. There is also an online fundraising page through GoFundMe which has already raised more than $3,700. You can aid the cause at www.gofundme/615220 or if you prefer call Matthews herself at (732) 547-5507.

The New Year got off to a bad start for Jean Lane but with help, support and resiliency it will end on a much better note.