Summer paradise lost in Long Beach Island, N.J.

(CBS News) LONG BEACH ISLAND, N.J. -- For most of her life, Leslie Houston has called Long Beach Island home.

"Once you've been here and got the sand in your shoes, you never want to leave," she says. "It's a legacy, it's a life, it's what your hometown means to you if you spent 53 years there."

Which is why it's so hard to see it shattered.

Few things were spared on this strip of resort towns, which since the late 1800s has been a haven for fishermen and sunseekers.

"We've gotten a real slap in the face," Houston says.

"They were in their petticoats and all that. That's how this island started -- it was a vacation spot for the people in Philadelphia," says Houston.

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Ten thousand people live in Long Beach Island year-round. But in the summer, the population swells to 100,000, with families vacationing in towns named Ship Bottom, Surf City and Brant Beach.

Glenn Reitinger's family built their first summer home in Long Beach Island in 1949.

"A lot of folks who live here are teachers, regular middle class folks that were able to get on the island, get a piece of property before the prices really skyrocketed," Reitinger says.

With its sandy beaches, amusement park and quaint candy shops, Long Beach Island is normally a summer paradise. But disaster is not new there.

The 1962 nor'easter ripped the island apart as did after a hurricane in 1944. But each time the island bounced back.

Now three days after Sandy, signs of strength are on display. "We are Jersey strong," says Houston. "It's gonna come back. "Maybe not this summer, but it's gonna come back."

Because this is a place built on summer memories that can never be swept away.

"Images of America: Long Beach Island," Arcadia Publishing