Ocean Gate Mayor Paul J. Kennedy wasn't taking any chances as Hurricane Sandy scuttled up the Eastern seaboard and weather forecasts grew increasingly dire with each hour.
He couldn't afford to. This small borough bordered on the north by the Toms River and on the east by Barnegat Bay is especially vulnerable to flooding from coastal storms.
And Sandy was anything but a mere coastal storm.
Kennedy was one of the first waterfront mayors in Ocean County to order a mandatory evacuation of the entire town.
"All of it," he replied to a reporter's question about what areas were affected.
Nearly two weeks after the vicious storm, residents near the river and bayfront are still slogging through recovery.
Curbsides are packed with sodden furniture, clothing and possessions. Generators, sump pumps and chainsaws clatter. Shell-shocked residents trudge back and forth between houses and curbs with ruined treasures.
Lawns and streets are covered with still-wet river muck. Several cars probably totaled by sea water are airing out in one yard alone.
And then there's the mountain at the baseball field. A mountain of couches, chairs, tables, toys, mattresses and household items, a testament to how many people were affected.
The explosive storm's first victim may have been the landmark Ocean Gate Market, which was destroyed on the morning of Oct. 29, the day Sandy began to roar in. It was the loss of a business this ratable-poor town could ill afford.