Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Students on Spring Break Aid Shore Repairs

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Students on Spring Break Aid Shore Repairs

Article excerpt

Hundreds of college students have descended upon the Jersey Shore during spring break this year to help with cleanup and rebuilding in the wake of superstorm Sandy.

And the state's public architecture school is bringing its expertise to bear in offering to help local officials and groups with research and design as the area rebuilds.

The project at the New Jersey Institute of Technology -- dubbed Resilient Design -- will look at lessons gleaned from other flooded areas, from Venice to New Orleans, and is setting up studios throughout the affected areas of the state, said Thomas Dallessio, the project manager.

In the meantime, more than 400 students from the school are among those spending spring break helping out on the state's battered coastline. Others, from state schools including Fairleigh Dickinson University, Rutgers and Bergen Community College, are lending a hand, as are more than 500 college students from out of state, some coming from as far as Iowa, Colorado and Georgia throughout March and April.

The students are helping out with debris removal, painting, putting up drywall and whatever else needs to be done as cleanup continues from the monster storm that pummeled the region in late October.

Last week in Union Beach -- a hard-hit town near Raritan Bay -- a group of FDU students hauled debris from the site of damaged ranch homes that were recently razed on Raritan Street. There were physically heavy items -- cinder blocks and metal piping -- and emotionally heavier ones -- like a waterlogged photo album and family Bible.

"It's very sad," said Cindy Rodriguez, 19, an FDU student from East Orange. "I can't imagine how it must have been [for the homeowners] to come back here."

Olga Carr, who lives across the street in a house that is more elevated, said her neighbors fled as the water from the bay and a nearby creek inundated the town. "Once the water reached the top of their kitchen cabinets, they were done," she said.

Unlike the Jersey Shore's barrier islands, where many of the damaged properties were second homes, the homes in this blue-collar town were primary residences. Carr said she wasn't sure where her neighbors had gone or if they would rebuild. …

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