SEASIDE HEIGHTS, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- Two weeks later, it remained shocking to view the devastation wrought by Superstorm Sandy in many Jersey Shore communities.
In a CBS 2 exclusive, Christine Sloan got a tour of some of the hardest-hit areas. It was emotional and horrifying, with residents coming back to find homes that are collapsed, demolished, barely standing, or ruined by the rushing waters of the ocean.
"I am on the verge of crying, and I've been practicing not crying for the past two weeks," said Elisa Germano of Seaside Heights.
But it is hard to hold yourself together when your entire life is in a pile of junk.
Germano lost everything in her apartment, which remained surrounded by destruction Monday. Homes have collapsed, and walls have been torn out.
Germano's cousin has been helping her.
"I love him very much. Everything that I have been getting the past couple of days has been verhy heartwarming," Germano sobbed.
Germano was allowed into her home for a few hours, but there was nothing to salvage.
In the town next door, Ortley Beach, no one was being allowed back in. There were about 50 sinkholes in the town, and homes along the beach were condemned, with some barely even standing.
On CBS 2's tour, the damage was overwhelming. On one street, there was a burned out car, and a misshapen wooden structure was all that was left of the boardwalk.
Some parts of the area were so dangerous that only driving shots were possible.
"The mayor's office is working diligently to get people over here," said Toms River police Chief Michael Mastronardy. "We have building inspectors that are telling us which streets so that we can implement our program to get residents back over here."
In Lavallette, a house collapsed on a car, and another car sat on a bed of sand. The devastation was far beyond what residents down the shore had ever seen.
Nancy Volpe put her life's savings into a home in Seaside Heights. Now that home has been swept away.
"It's heartbreaking, you know – a block from the ocean, who would have ever, you know," Volpe said. "It was a dream come true, and it's gone."
Yet, as they looked around them at left of at the little left of the Jersey coastline, residents such as Germano were touched by the generosity of strangers.
"People who aren't even your family have been there for you," she said. "They don't even know you."
The once-bustling shore community of Seaside Heights was a ghost town Monday night, after residents were ordered to clear out again at 3 p.m. It was not clear when they would be able to come back to live permanently, but the mayor said the town has to be up and running again by springtime because it relies on tourism.
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