Belmar, NJ - from Asbury Park Press
(USA TODAY) - New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said Tuesday that the devastation along the Jersey Shore was "unthinkable," with towns underwater, homes ripped from their foundations and amusement park rides ripped from their moorings and sent out to sea.
"The idea ... that you see homes in the middle of Route 35 southbound and northbound is just unfathomable," Christie told reporters at a morning briefing.
A somber Christie said he got his first look at the destruction from images beamed back from a New Jersey State Trooper helicopter that flew over the area made famous by the reality show Jersey Shore.
He said the chopper swept over several shore towns, including Lavallette, Seaside and Seaside Heights.
"All are nearly completely underwater," he said. "Houses are off their foundations. There are houses in the middle of Route 35."
He said one amusement pier at Seaside Park is "essentially washed out," with the roller coaster "in the ocean." The town's southern pier likewise was "significantly damaged."
Seaside Heights Mayor Bill Akers said Funtown Pier on the northern end of the boardwalk is totally gone, and all rides are underwater, the Asbury Park Press reported.
"There has to be a billion dollars of damage here. I never could have imagined it," Akers said.
He said 40 officers and firefighters were still involved in evacuation efforts and that officials were asking the National Guard for assistance.
Borough Police Chief Thomas Boyd said police and firefighters patrolled the area in two 5-ton half-tracks, but lost one of them to the floodwaters, the Press reported.
Boyd had a message for 96% of residents who had fled ahead of the storm: "Don't think you're coming into Seaside. It's pretty bad devastation."
On New Jersey's Long Island, located offshore, William Huelsenbeck, mayor of the borough of Ship Bottom, said many homes had three to six fee of water inside, The Sandaper.net reports.
In Belmar, Mayor Matt Doherty said the southern half of the town's boardwalk was destroyed, the Press reports.