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Jersey Shore Residents Allowed Back Home To Grab Belongings

Seaside Heights boardwalk planks and roller coaster in the ocean on Nov. 9, 2012 (credit: Peter Haskell/WCBS 880)

Seaside Heights boardwalk planks and roller coaster in the ocean on Nov. 9, 2012 (credit: Peter Haskell/WCBS 880)

TOMS RIVER, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) – It’s what residents of the Jersey shore communities hardest hit by Superstorm Sandy have wanted ever since the storm hit: a chance to get back in their homes, assess damage and retrieve some possessions.

So-called “controlled returns” started Friday morning for residents of Toms River, Berkeley, Seaside Heights, Mantoloking and Long Beach Township.

Residents had an hour to grab what they can before being bused back off the islands.

WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell reports

Warm winter clothing topped the list for many. Temperatures were at or near the 60s before the storm; it’s now in the 30s.

Gov. Chris Christie announced Friday that he is lifting the mandatory evacuation order for Long Beach Island. Homeowners, except those living in Holgate, will be allowed back in their homes starting at 6 a.m. Saturday.

Christie viewed the damage at the Jersey Shore starting in Sea Bright and ending in Seaside Heights Friday afternoon.

“The devastation I talked about a week ago was even more real to me today,” Christie said. “I don’t think any of us could really have expected the results we got from this storm.”

“It will be hard to ever know life as it used to be exactly, but we are now working towards something that will create a new life,” Christie said.

The landscape of the Jersey Shore has been dramatically altered and the big question is if and when will it be restored.

The future of the Garden State’s summer playground is very much in doubt, WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell reported.

“It’s catastrophic so I’m sure I’m not going to have that done in six or seven months,” Christie said. “It won’t be like you’ll walk onto the Seaside Heights boardwalk next summer and act like nothing ever happened.”

Christie said he’s hoping to start the rebuild phase next week, focusing on a long-term plan for the area.

“We’re going to have one chance to do this,” Christie said. “I want to make sure I do it right.”

(TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)