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Stories From Main Street: Ocean Grove Still Needs Help With Sandy Repairs

60 Percent Of The Boardwalk Was Destroyed By Sandy
The Great Auditorium in Ocean Grove, N.J. (file / credit: Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association)

The Great Auditorium in Ocean Grove, N.J. (file / credit: Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association)

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OCEAN GROVE, N.J. (CBSNewYork) - There is a unique community along the Jersey Shore that isn’t getting the same help as other towns.

Ocean Grove is a place like something right out of a Norman Rockwell painting, WCBS 880’s Sean Adams reported. There are brightly colored Victorian homes with porches, rocking chairs, and American flags.

It was founded by the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association, a Methodist group, in 1869.

“Its mission, which [it] still is today [is] for spiritual birth, growth, and renewal,” said Ralph delCampo, who now heads the group.

Today, there is another kind of renewal going on – rebuilding after superstorm Sandy.

About 25 percent of the roof of the Great Auditorium – sturdy wood and iron concert hall and meeting house that seats 6,500 – was destroyed.

The auditorium houses a 10,000-pipe organ and was constructed by shipbuilders in 1894. From the inside, the soaring, curved ceiling resembles the hull of Noah’s Ark turned upside down, Adams reported.

 

Stories from Main Street - Photo: Evan Bindelglass / WCBS 880

Stories from Main Street – Photo: Evan Bindelglass / WCBS 880

RELATED: More Stories from Main Street

Sixty percent of the boardwalk was also destroyed and FEMA doesn’t want to pay to replace it.

“If you have a boardwalk and a beachfront that’s part of a municipality, FEMA will fund that. If it’s part of a not-for-profit charitable organization like we are, then FEMA does not fund that,” delCampo said, adding that they are appealing FEMA’s decision. “In 1908, the state of New Jersey declared the boardwalk in Ocean Grove to be a public thoroughfare.”

“It really is also part of the interconnectivity of the economic engine of the Jersey Shore,” he added.

Volunteers like Joan Knust have been pitching in to clean up, having been touched by the special nature of the town.

“It’s the most unusual town along the Jersey Shore,” she said. “I can look down my street and see the American flying every single day, not just a holiday.”

But more help is needed.

“People have really come together in the community,” delCampo said. “We’re well on our way but we really need a lot of support.”

If you want to join the repair effort, call 732-775-0035.

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