In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, thousands homeowners along the shores of New Jersey, New York and Connecticut — most only recently renovated post-Sandy– must embark on a costly process to elevate their homes as they try to beat back rising tides and keep their property above water.
Kathy Butler: I like living by the water. You can take a walk over and see the ocean any time of the year. It’s just peaceful. It makes me happy.
We’ve lived here 28 years. Our home was a small little beach bungalow that my husband’s grandparents owned. So he’s been coming here all his life. He really wanted to move here.
Mike Butler: I’ve been here for 58 years and it’s…I love it.
Kathy: Sandy was a big surprise to all of us. The morning we came back we had had 3 feet of water in the house. So everything was full of sand and mud and yuck and cabinets were broken open. It was pretty…horrible.
Yeah it was up to here (shows about 3 feet height). We decided that we had to raise our house for many reasons. And the main reason was we don’t want to ever have to go through what we went through with Sandy.
Jason Yarusi: We were hired by the Butlers down here in Sea bright to raise their home today. With the storm it’s become apparent that people need to do this and that the shoreline is actually receding some 3 percent in the next hundred years so at some point this is going to get even worse besides the storm damage..
We’ve done over 300 lifts since the storm. A couple hundred thousand homeowners that are now affected by the storm
We had to break holes in the foundation to allow us to put our steel underneath the house. Once we’ve got it under the house, we set wood or shimming on top to make the system that will allow us to properly support the house when we raise it up in the air.
Mike: I think they know what they’re doing. Hopefully another storm doesn’t hit before it’s back down.
Jason: We do 14 inches at a time. We use very strong and solid oak six by eight oak blocks and we raise it up. At each point we have to reset our jacks and raise our jacks up so we can go the next 14 inches. So today I believe we went around 6 and a half feet so give or take that was about five pushes.
Mike : It’s faster than I thought. Looking good. I’ve never seen a house being raised before. In one day they did everything, breaking through the foundation, putting the beams in raising it and done in eight hours.
Jason: It’s nice to see a lot of homeowners getting back in their homes, but there’s still a lot that I go to every day to set up and estimate that are still not even close.
Mike: Now with the house going up, I’m going to be able to see the ocean, from my back window. This was a big step just getting this. Because now everything is going to be moving forward. I’m hoping to be back in before Christmas.
Kathy: This will definitely protect us from any of the storms we’ve had so far. If we have something worse than Sandy I guess none of us will have a house here.
Mike: No matter where you live you have to worry about it. Whether it’s water or a tree falling on your house. But I feel safe here plus I just love it here. There’s a lot of memories in this house and there’s going to be a lot more. I can’t think of living anywhere else.
Mike and Kathy Butler have lived in their Sea Bright, New Jersey house for nearly thirty years. Before he was married, Mike spent summers visiting his grandparents there. In more than fifty years, the house never flooded, but Hurricane Sandy was different.
“When we came back the next morning, there had been three feet of water in the house,” Kathy said. She, her husband and their two daughters had ridden out the storm with friends and neighbors, but quickly realized that they wouldn’t be living at their house any time soon. “We were all stunned. This was supposed to be one of the high points in town.”
The river, which had churned itself into a toxic soup of oil, mud and sewage, had destroyed their first floor. A hot tub in the backyard was lifted and turned on its side by the force of water.
As she stood in the wreckage of her living room, Kathy thought about cutting her losses and leaving. “It was devastating to see everything…cabinets, furniture floors just ruined.”
Devastation became determination, as friends and family arrived to help the Butlers clean and rebuild. Rather than flee for higher ground, the Butlers began looking for a way to protect their home by the sea — and the government soon provided one.
They would have to lift their house.