There's a reason Berkeley Township police officers are still stationed at checkpoints into the Good Luck Point and Glen Cove sections of Bayville.
Almost three weeks after Hurricane Sandy roared onto the Jersey coast, the two bayfront areas are still scenes of devastation. A blackened tree stands like a sentry next to a Good Luck Drive home that burned to the ground during the storm. Firefighters were unable to reach it.
The power has been cut to most homes in Good Luck Point. Many are tagged with neon-red "unsafe structure" signs on their doors.
Houses sit in places they don't belong, washed off their foundations. Overturned boats are everywhere. Some sit in the tidal marshes off Bayview Avenue, blown far from where they were once stored.
"All these boats were just picked up," said Township Council President James J. Byrnes, whose Dogwood Drive home in Glen Cove will have to be demolished.
Furniture and mounds of household items line the curbsides. The township Public Works Department has already made several passes through Good Luck Point and Glen Cove, Byrnes said.
"I got two cars gone and my house doesn't have a roof," Douglas Nutley told Byrnes, during a Saturday tour of the battered area. "I'm getting too old for this aggravation."
But a few doors down, Linda and Howard Baigus vowed to return.
Three feet of water inundated their Good Luck Drive home of nearly 20 years. A rusty horseshoe is still nailed next to their front door, a survivor of the storm.
The fireplace in the living room that faces Barnegat Bay is all that's left of the room. The roof and walls were swept away by the crushing storm surge. The two-story garage next to their caramel-colored house collapsed. A utility pole toppled and crushed their R.V.
The couple heeded the mandatory evacuation order and fled with their animals on Oct. 29.
"We got out at 3 p.m.," Linda said. "At 12 p.m., it was already flooding. We never had water in the house before."
The newer house next door to the Baigus' withstood the storm because it was built to Federal Emergency Management Agency hurricane standards. And the couple's next house will be too, Linda said.
"I'm assuming we have to demolish the house," she said. "We'd definitely like to rebuild. We love it here."
They have been staying at an emergency, pet-friendly shelter at McGuire Air Force Base since the storm, but will move onto a rental home in Holiday City at Berkeley next week. But they are okay.
"All my cats are alive," Linda said with a smile. "My dogs are alive. Howard and I are alive."
Township officials will sit down with FEMA representatives on Tuesday to determine the parameters for what houses will have to be demolished and what houses can be rebuilt, Byrnes said.
He and Township Councilman John Bacchione drove slowly down the battered streets, often asking residents how they were doing.
When Byrnes stopped by Whitey's Landing Marina on Butler Boulevard in Glen Cove, he joked and asked the owner how he had managed to cram boats in so tightly.
"Act of God," he yelled back.
Many of the houses in both sections that were badly damaged were older homes, built in the 1940s and 1950s, when much of Bayville was a summer retreat. The older houses, built on concrete slabs, were lower than newer homes and took in more water.
Byrnes is concerned that many residents who have already started renovation and remediation do not appear to have the required permits for whatever work they are doing.
Residents without the permits "are going to get a stop-work notice," he said.
But he didn't have the heart to tell them to stop what they were doing on Saturday afternoon.
"We waived the fees and we've hired five new inspectors," he said.
Fortunately, nearly all of the residents in Good Luck Point and Glen Cove obeyed the mandatory evacuation order.
"Only the crazy people stayed," one man said.