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'Since the storm, my home looks like lakefront property'

Text by: Jon FROSCH Follow | Julien PEYRON
4 min

The town of Hoboken in the state of New Jersey faces New York City across the Hudson River. Usually known for its tree-lined residential streets, bars and trendy restaurants, superstorm Sandy has left Hoboken looking like a disaster zone.


special correspondents in New Jersey

Hoboken, New Jersey lies just across the Hudson River from lower Manhattan. Once a working class port town, it is now known for its tree-lined residential streets, avenues filled with coffee shops and trendy restaurants, and spectacular views of the New York City skyline.

Ever since Hurricane Sandy hit the Northeast, however, Hoboken has looked more like a disaster zone. The storm is over, and the water has receded. But glass from blown-out windows and fallen branches clutter the sidewalks, while brown sludge (sewage mixed with puddles of rain) coats the ground.

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) workers and National Guard members are busy pitching in for the relief and repair efforts, and local officials are giving press conferences and surveying damage.

The worst is over and the clean-up is well underway. Still, Hoboken is only starting to emerge from the most severe storm most residents have seen in their lifetime. In the mess left behind by Sandy, residents are more focused now on the clean-up than on the US presidential race pitting President Barack Obama against challenger Mitt Romney, less than a week away.

Mark Frantz, FEMA agent

Mark Frantz, FEMA agent
Mark Frantz, FEMA agent

We’re here to support the people of Hoboken. Our first mission is to save lives, as President Obama said. A house or a car can be replaced – not a human life. We’re going to stay here until the situation is normal and the power is back.

I was in Brooklyn when the storm hit. Since then, I’ve been all around Queens, Manhattan, and Hoboken.

We’re not here for politics. We’re here to help people. I support the president now, and I’ll continue to do so whoever it is, Democrat or Republican.

Dawn Zimmer, mayor of Hoboken (Democrat)

Dawn Zimmer, mayor of Hoboken (Democrat)
Dawn Zimmer, mayor of Hoboken (Democrat)

I’ve been living and breathing this every day. I live right around here. Since the storm, my home looks like a lakefront property.

I’ve been extremely satisfied with the response by Governor [Chris] Christie and President Obama. I cannot thank them enough for their effort and concern.

FEMA has also been an enormous help.

Deborah Cohen, local homeowner whose garage and ground floor were flooded

Deborah Cohen, Hoboken resident
Deborah Cohen, Hoboken resident

When the storm hit, it looked like rushing rapids outside. The water was chest-level. Now, three days later, there’s raw sewage and oil in the street. It’s a real health hazard. I saw people walking barefoot.

A lot of people have left town, because they don’t have heat or electricity. We’ve been flooded before, but this is by far the worst I’ve ever seen. It’s going to be pricey to repair.

Christie and Obama seem extremely concerned, and their response has been good. But we need to see how they follow through. We’re going to be cleaning this up for a long time.

Jojo Paloma, cook at Legal Beans, local coffee shop that was destroyed in storm

Jojo Paloma, cook
Jojo Paloma, cook

The windows of the restaurant were completely destroyed by the water. It was up to the chest and smashed right through the windows. This is the first day we’ve been able to come to start cleaning up.

I’ve worked here for 6 years. The boss is very depressed. We’re still waiting for FEMA to come. In the meantime, people from the neighbourhood have been helping us clean up.

I have to go down to the basement to clean. I assume there will be rats and roaches soon.

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