Nightly News   |  January 07, 2013

NJ residents devastated by Superstorm Sandy return home

The New Jersey towns hardest hit by Sandy sustained millions of dollars of damage. On Monday, some of the lucky few found their homes still standing and will spend the night there for the first time since the storm. NBC’s Rehema Ellis reports.

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>>> as you listen to congress fight over the funding for victims of hurricane sandy, remember this, and remember the story you're about to see. it's been 70 days since the storm, and today was move-in day for a lot of folks who were forced out of their houses, along the jersey shore when the storm hit. and they still need a lot of help. nbc's rehema ellis is in brick township , new jersey tonight on the jersey shore . talk about a homecoming, rehema.

>> reporter: indeed, brian. here in brick township , about 10,000 homes and businesses were damaged by the storm. but today some people throughout the area got a bit of good news. some security checkpoints were listed and people were allowed back into their homes. the road back for many jersey shore residents is littered with tiles of sand and debris. after more than 60 days, residents like candace pulpaka are happy to be home.

>> this is our life. we love it here. so we're happy to be back.

>> will you sleep in your home tonight for the first time since the storm?

>> yes, we will. we definitely will.

>> reporter: she has lived in this house for 26 years, built 7 feet above sea level , according to town rules.

>> the garage did have water, about four feet. so we gutted the garage and a little bit into the house. but all our mechanicals are working. we're waiting for everybody to come back.

>> reporter: she's one of the lucky few. the town is still desolate. many houses are barely standing. contractors are working every day.

>> you know, the house is sunken in, twisted upside down. it's quite an experience.

>> reporter: the in brick township , the damage is put at $50 million. today marks an important step in the long road to recovery. cars are flowing, and people no longer need to show identification to armed guards to get in and out.

>> the point of not having to go through a checkpoint with people with guns, that's a big part of the psyche of people as they try and recover from this.

>> reporter: fema says homeowners in this brick township have already seen $19 million for individual repairs. people here hope that helps them get ready for the summer tourist season that so many people here rely on. brian?

>> rehema ellis on the jersey shore where it's been a long, tough, 70 days. rehe rehema, thanks.