TODAY | November 04, 2012
>>> to talk about hurricane sandy's aftermath. more than a million people in new jersey without electricity and in some places entire communities are completely destroyed. highlands, new jersey, one of those towns. michelle franzen is there for us us. michelle, good morning.
>> reporter: well, good morning, lester. this blue collar fishing community is used to riding out the storm but no one was prepared for sandy's force. take a look at this home in the do downtown. the water line well above my head. as a result the majority of homeowners here cannot return to their homes, not just because their homes are flooded out but with massive debris including boats lodged in the yard. the biggest challenge for this and other communities is just being able to provide the basics at this point, food, water, and shelter. eileen has a hot meal and a warm place to stay. the local high school , her temporary shelter now for nearly a week.
>> i've learned in life you have to be thankful. it's a good thing. we are all alive.
>> reporter: she and her dog, maggie, are among the residents in highlands, new jersey, forced out of their homes when sandy's surge flooded the seaside town .
>> some areas have about 12 to 17 foot surge of water come in. went into 1,200 or more of our 1,500 residences downtown.
>> everything got wiped out.
>> reporter: amanda and her family barely made it out. saturday she gave representative frank pallone a tour of the damage which included a boat slammed against the house. still, she's hoping to rebuild.
>> my son is actually the fourth generation, so we brought him home to this house. we love it. we want to stay in this town. we love the town. but there's nothing we can do, we would have to leave.
>> reporter: a lot of people are worried about not having the shelter these cold nights. the.
>> i'm very concerned about, you know, first of all, there might be another nor'easter coming and, you know, we just have to make sure that everybody has shelter.
>> reporter: fema and the red cross arrived just yesterday, but it is the spirit and efforts of this tight-knit community that is driving the healing process .
>> we're running out with a generator.
>> reporter: leading the way, the mayor who knows the devastation firsthand. he and his family lost everything, too.
>> and this is all of our kids' and family's stuff we had to take out of the house because it's contaminated.
>> reporter: now as this community starts over, residents are also gaining comfort and strength in knowing they are not alone. and the mayor and his family are also staying at the shelter and now, lester, he and other officials are trying to get clear the way for fema to bring in temporary trailers long-term housing needs.
>> all right, michelle franzen in highlands, new jersey, thank you.