Mary Kranis has lived in her Shrewsbury Avenue home for 33 years but has been a Highlands resident her entire life. Taking a break from clearing out her family’s water-logged belongings the weekend after Hurricane Sandy brought the bay into her home, Kranis expressed pride in her hometown.
“We’re the ones who always stick together. We all help each other. It’s more of a neighborhood,” Kranis said. Almost on cue, a neighbor drove up offering hot coffee. “See, there’s a lot of that.”
Despite a flooded home—in fact, three flooded homes among her relatives, Kranis was grateful. The volunteers have been wonderful, she said, and she had the support of friends and fellow Highlands residents. Members of her church, Atlantic Highlands United Methodist, brought food and took away clothing to be laundered. Off-duty police officers have stopped by at night to see if the residents needed anything.
“It could have been worse. At least we’re here,” Kranis said.
After her home, which is elevated about six feet, survived the 1992 storm that flooded much of Highlands, Kranis and her neighbors expected to wait out Sandy. When the morning before the storm came and the water reached their sidewalks, she and much of the neighborhood decided to leave. They were glad they did. One resident who stayed survived a terrifying night with waves crashing into the windows. Boats from the Twin Lights Marina up the road were tossed into the street by the storm.
The cleanup will take weeks, Kranis said. But in the meantime, she and her neighbors try to find time for humor as they sort through the mess. She pointed to signs made on the damaged property left at the curb.
“You see all the stuff we wrote over there? Everyone’s adding to it,” Kranis said.
One sign read “Waterfront Property for Sale,” another, leaning on a fence post next to an Elmo doll left out to dry, read “Elmo Doesn’t Like Sandy.”
Next door, another pile of destroyed belongings was left out to the curb. The sign there read, “Welcome To Paradise.”