"I used to have a 24 foot dune out there," said Frank Gallagher, a resident of Brick's barrier island portion. "Now, you look out right onto the ocean, and it's a very scary situation."
Gallagher told township council members this week he is afraid another storm could cause damage to his home that is still standing after Hurricane Sandy.
The issue of dune restoration is a crucial one for homeowners in essentially every community that fronts the ocean. Without protective dunes, homes even blocks away could be at risk. And if the ocean breaches the barrier island, as it did near the Mantoloking Bridge during Sandy, rushing water could cause flooding even on the western shore of Barnegat Bay.
State officials were as concerned as anyone, and in the immediate aftermath of Sandy, commented on the great extent to which the dunes were destroyed.
In Brick, restoring the dunes will be both a short-term and long-term project, officials said.
"We have one contractor out there right now doing dune restoration," said Business Administrator Scott Pezarras. "He's pushing as much up as he can."
The current plan includes taking sand washed onto local streets by the storm and pushing it back to the beach to form a berm.
"We are in an effort to secure as much of the beach, by pushing up some sand, as we can," said Pezarras.
Another technique the township has been using to help restore dunes in the short-term is acquiring storm fencing, which Pezarras said is a "hot commodity" right now.
The initial, short-term work is a quick fix to help prevent additional damage to township neighborhoods.
Dune restoration work is one of the many expenditures for which the township can be expected to be reimbursed by the Federal Emergency Management Agenca (FEMA).
Pezarras said long-term dune restoration is "very preliminary phased right now."
Fortunately, in the wake of Sandy, state officials have alleviated lengthy permitting requirements that normally come with dune restoration projects, said Pezarras.
"There are so many moving parts to the recovery process, it's just mind-boggling," he said.