Philadelphia, PA

In the last days of October 2012, Hurricane Sandy swept over the Caribbean and into the eastern seaboard of the United States. Ranked only as a Category 3 hurricane at its most intense, Sandy’s effects were still dramatic- characterized by powerful storm surges and widespread flooding. Among the areas impacted was the New Jersey coastline, particularly its barrier islands. For weeks, residents were prohibited from visiting their homes, while authorities dealt with the extensive damage to the islands’ infrastructure. When residents were able to return, they found their landscape permanently altered.

Residents of Beach Haven, N.J., survey the damage to some of Long Beach Island's waterfront properties. The three decided to explore the island after visiting their own houses for the first time since Hurricane Sandy hit.

A clothing store's windows glow in the darkness after electricity was restored to a portion of its block on Long Beach Island. Much of the island still remained without power weeks after Hurricane Sandy, causing authorities to limit residents' visits to daylight hours.

Debris floats in the water of Tuckerton Beach, where several homes were swept out to sea by the storm surge.

The remains of a park restroom stand at the edge of the waterfront in Tuckerton Beach.

The barrier island community of Holgate, N.J. remained closed even as residents were allowed to enter other areas of Long Beach Island two weeks after Hurricane Sandy hit.

Stuffed animals are kept protected by plastic bags in Seaside Heights.

Gary "Train" Holmes pulls on a pair of gloves in front of his apartment in Seaside Heights. Holmes and his friends had spent the last few days cleaning out his residence, as well as his landlady's place, after islanders were allowed to re-enter the area.

A room in a Seaside Heights home remains filled with sand three weeks after Hurricane Sandy hit.

Post-storm debris clogs the streets of Tuckerton Beach. Township workers began clearing the streets quickly after the storm had passed, working even as more rain and sleet rolled in.

Sand encroaches on the boardwalk in Atlantic City.

Neil Orfano sweeps mud and flood-damaged possessions out of his rental property in Seaside Heights. Like most other residents of the New Jersey barrier islands, Orfano was unable to visit his property until several weeks after Hurricane Sandy had passed because of authorities' fears over safety issues like damaged gas lines.

A home damaged by Hurrican Sandy sits by the causeway to Long Beach Island.

A flood adjuster assesses a home in Tuckerton Beach, N.J., an area which experienced extensive damage from the storm surge caused by Superstorm Sandy.

A ladder acts as the method of entry to a residence in Tuckerton Beach.

A license plate and a white fence were all that remained of seven homes swept out to sea by Hurricane Sandy's storm surge in Tuckerton Beach.

Atlantic City's brightly lit skyline missed only a few letters less than a week after Hurricane Sandy hit the Jersey shore.

John O'Connor gazes at the pile of belongings that he and his family cleared out of his summer home on Long Beach Island. The family was amongst the first wave of homeowners to arrive on the island to assess the damage to their properties after authorities began permitting residents to enter again.

Police cars guard the entrance to the beach in Seaside Heights, where tourists and residents were eager to catch a glimpse of the town's destroyed boardwalk and pier.

Atlantic City's Steel Pier is silent but intact after the storm.

Students and teachers from Central Regional High School in Bayville, N.J. take video and still footage of the damage to Seaside Heights' famed boardwalk and pier. The group decided to create a documentary video about Hurricane Sandy after more than 200 students from their school were relocated because of the storm.