Mantoloking sits on a narrow barrier island, only a quarter of a mile at its widest parts. All 521 of the affluent community’s buildings were either damaged or destroyed during Sandy, and if you drove around town in the aftermath of the storm, you saw houses ripped from their foundations, roofs split in half, and walls shorn away, exposing people’s kitchens and bedrooms.
A year after Sandy, the recovery process still has a long way to go, but there have been noticeable signs of progress. Most of the wreckage has now been removed, leaving empty lots where construction crews are in the process of rebuilding historic homes to comply with new FEMA elevation requirements. The borough is also planning to start construction on a $40 million seawall, despite objections from some environmentalists, who fear the plan could exacerbate flooding in neighboring communities.
Mantoloking has also hit some speed bumps on the road to recovery, with the borough recently forced to begin eminent domain proceedings against a handful of property owners who refused to allow construction of a 22-foot-high sand dune on their beachfronts.
Mantoloking lost nearly a third of its tax base in the storm — more than any other municipality in Monmouth or Ocean Counties — so there are concerns about how it will make up for the shortfall. As in other struggling shore towns, federal Sandy aid helped close the gap this year, but that money will likely disappear next year. The borough is in the process of conducting re-assessments, and some residents fear their tax rates could go up to compensate for the difference.