Nightly News   |  October 31, 2012

New Jersey reeling from Sandy’s landfall

President Obama witnessed the extent of the damage during a visit to the devastated coastline. Some communities are now uninhabitable, and at times it seems nothing along the coast is where it should be. NBC’s Lester Holt reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> well, good evening, from the jersey shore , and again, if you include this entire region of several hundred miles, all of it hard-hit by this storm named sandy, the hardest hit area continues to be the shoreline of new jersey, about 130 miles from north to south. we are just back from one of our first tours, and for those of you able to see us, the folks with power, especially in the eastern region of the united states , we have been using the phrase "redrawing the map of the jersey shore " to talk about the power of this storm. we were able to see that today, there are new inlets, new beaches where they didn't exist. there will have to be new tide tables because the water is coming inland where it didn't before, the destruction is everywhere you look, we're going to start tonight with lester holt who started his journey in the storm down in virginia, looking at where it is the worst.

>> reporter: well, brian, when the storm happens, people are excited, shocked, maybe scared. now there is a sense of people looking at what they lost, what they can do, where they can't go. the president looked at the situation, what can be easily fixed.

>> reporter: first water, and now fire, blazing homes lighting up the pre-dawn sky over brick township , new jersey, gas leaks, a direct result of hurricane sandy, putting others at risk. two days later, the area is still reeling, especially along the shoreline. today, the president witnessed it firsthand, in a fly-over with jersey's governor, he saw miles of coastline, sea side communities now in ruins, some still under water.

>> we are here for you, and we will not forget, we will follow up to make sure that you get all the help that you need until you rebuild.

>> reporter: the president was not the only one assessing the damage today. all along the hard-hit coast, locals ventured out in a bright morning sunrise to try to understand it all.

>> i have lived here pretty much my whole life and i have never seen anything like this.

>> reporter: everywhere, damaged homes and businesses, some barely standing, others, not at all. the barrier community of sea side heights is uninhabitable.

>> all the area on the north end , the bottoms are washed away, the foundations gone.

>> reporter: it seems nothing along the coast is where it should be, like boats on land.

>> somebody said dad, your boat is sitting on the middle of the median. we saw it on facebook.

>> reporter: that is beach sand here in this town's being plowed from streets like the aftermath of a december blizzard. it looks like an earthquake ripped up the paved walkway that sat above the beach. but it is not just the famous shoreline suffering, inland, and sayerville, emotions are raw.

>> everything is ruined.

>> reporter: at least two million electric customers in new jersey are still in the dark, and where there is power, gas lines run long without power and too much damage to their house. lisa and rich rarico carry what they could as they leave their point pleasant beach neighborhood, maybe for a long time. how long do you expect to be out of your house?

>> much of that.

>> reporter: the new jersey coast has been beaten up by storms before, but never quite like from the punch that sandy delivered. you know it has almost been a parade of bad news or things you need to know about, brian, the governor has cancelled halloween, trick-or-treating for the kids, giving time to help in other ways. it is cold, very cold, no electricity, no heat, it is tough.

>> and i'm watching your picture ne s in the report for the town of mannesquan, lester holt with our over view of this tonight, thank