In what could turn out to be a day that turned countless Brick residents' lives upside-down, Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc on Brick Township on Monday night and Tuesday morning like no other storm in recent memory had.
First responders were deluged with calls throughout the day Monday and into the early morning hours Tuesday, dealing with countless instances of downed power lines, trees blocking roadways, numerous fires and severe flooding.
The neighborhood around Cherry Quay was hit hard with severe and fast-rising tidal flooding, with firefighters evacuating several families and taking them to a shelter set up at Brick Memorial High School.
Mayor Stephen C. Acropolis said two houses burned down in the neighborhood.
At one point Monday night, houses in Mantoloking borough became dislodged from their foundations and floated into Barnegat Bay, reportedly hitting the Mantoloking Bridge. Initial reports indicated the bridge had collapsed, but authorities would later confirm the bridge appeared not to been damaged but would be closed pending inspection and cleanup. One house had come to rest on the bridge itself, authorities said.
Meanwhile, the ocean met the bay and waves were coming nearly all the way to the bridge entrance on the barrier island side, Brick Police Sgt. Keith Reinhard said.
The conditions on the barrier island prevented firefighters from reaching multiple fires – rumored to be as many as 20 – burning in the township's barrier island section. Flames could be seen from across Barnegat Bay, and residents in the township's Baywood section told Brick Patch they could smell the smoke produced by the fires on the mainland.
Scanner chatter indicated multiple houses collapsing in various parts of the mainland sections of the township by the early morning hours. Firefighters used Zodiak boats to rescue families whose houses were being flooded in the Cherry Quay neighborhood. One of the boats was operating on Royal Drive.
By the early morning hours, more than 31,000 households in Brick were without power, according to Jersey Central Power and Light. That number represented nearly the entire town.
One of the township's main east-west thoroughfares, Mantoloking Road, was flooded from Tilton Road to the Mantoloking Bridge, which was being blocked by barricades and police officers.
A reporter in the area could see a faint glow of the fires from the barrier island and smell the scent of the burning wood in the air.
There was no indication that the township's local state of emergency would be lifted any time soon, as most roads were covered with debris and many had downed power lines making conditions unsafe for driving.
Residents with questions regarding the storm were still being asked to contact the township's storm call center at 732-262-1234. Residents in emergency situations that required evacuation were being told to dial 9-1-1.