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NJ Sandy milestone: Last shuttered town reopens

Saturday - 2/23/2013, 3:38am  ET

Adrian Agullar removes a ruined vintage automobile from the garage of a storm-damaged beach front home in Mantoloking, N.J., Friday, Feb. 22, 2013. New Jersey has reached another milestone in its recovery 116 days after Superstorm Sandy struck. One of the hardest-hit Jersey shore communities, Mantoloking, will allow its residents to begin moving back home Friday. It is the last shore town to do so. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

MEL C. EVANS
Associated Press

MANTOLOKING, N.J. (AP) -- For the first time in almost four months, residents are living again in Mantoloking, a well-off New Jersey beach town that suffered some of the worst of Superstorm Sandy's wrath.

Town officials allowed residents to return Friday to stay. It's the last New Jersey community to hit that milestone since the storm.

"It's a wonderful feeling to be back in your own home after four months of not knowing what your future is," said Sandra Witkowski, who returned with her husband, Stan.

But it's also difficult to be in a place with such devastation. When she looks out her window, Witkowski sees one house wrecked by the storm and bare land where another used to be.

All 521 homes in the community an hour and a half's drive south of New York City were damaged. About 60 were swept away entirely and hundreds more will have to be demolished. Most of the homes are grand summer getaways. Only about 100 residents typically stay through the winter.

The community, 2
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