Wine lover Kevin Corbett recovered all his wine, as well as his golf clubs, from his riverside house, which is slated for demolition. Two doors away, the year-old home of Beatrix and Paul Patton saw little damage.  Click to enlarge)


With a backhoe in his front yard and an orange “5” spray-painted across the face of his house, Kevin Corbett hustled out from his rear deck, a bottle of ’82 Petrus in hand, attempting to use the little time he had to save the things he values most: wine, golf clubs and clothes.

As the backhoe’s claw yanked at a wire strung from what’s left of his Ocean Avenue house, Corbett seemed surprisingly unfazed about entering a precarious structure Monday afternoon.

“It’s beat up out front,” he said with a laugh, “but it’s fine in the back.”

Hundreds of Sea Bright Residents made a brief return home on Monday afternoon to find varying levels of damage inflicted on their households. In some instances, houses that made it out of the storm relatively unscathed were juxtaposed against a neighbor’s residence lying in ruins.

Corbett carries a case of wine past the home of his next-door neighbor, town building inspector Ed Wheeler, which was knocked off its foundation and is also slated for demolition. (Click to enlarge)

After a week of forced refuge from their homes, the residents of Sea Bright’s North Beach finally got a chance to see what condition their houses were in post-Sandy. Twice as many are expected Tuesday, when the southern end of town gets its turn, according to Sea Bright Mayor Dina Long.

While hustling out cases of wine – some rare valued in the thousands of dollars – Corbett noted that his visit could be the last to the house, which is slated for demolition.

“I’ve been here since ‘97”, he said, “and this is only the second time my house has gotten wet.”

Corbett said much of the damage caused to his house was inflicted by floating cabanas and other debris from the beach clubs that lined the ocean side of the street. Though the house will likely have to come down, he plans on rebuilding, this time with “ramparts” against “flying cabanas.”

Two doors to the south, Beatrix and Paul Patton saw little damage to their year-old, 3,000-square-foot house, where they live year-round with their two young daughters. They attributed the relative lack of damage to the fact that the home was built to more stringent flood and wind standards than older homes nearby.

“The basement and garage are completely trashed,” said Paul. “But the biggest thing is we get to hug our kids.”

Patton said he felt confident building the house because the bungalow that preceded it, which he bought 12 years ago, had been the subject of only one insurance claim for flooding over the prior eight decades.

Next door to Corbett,  the home of Sea Bright building inspector Ed Wheeler was knocked ajar on its foundation by wind and a storm surge that raised water levels more than six feet. Like Corbett’s, Wheeler’s place was rated a five out of five on a damage scale, meaning it is considered uninhabitable. Unlike Corbett’s, though, the basic frame of the house is salvageable, Wheeler said.

“Instead of rebuilding, I’m going to lift what remains of the house and place it on a stronger, more modern foundation.” he said, while surveying the damage.

Wheeler rode out the storm in Aruba, where he was vacationing while Sandy devastated his community. He returned home to find much of his beloved town, and his own home, shattered, not to mention an unclaimed boat now residing in his back yard.