Man returns to Jersey shore to find home missing

Mike Krumboltz
The Lookout
Houses are seen destroyed along the waterfront in this aerial view near Ortley Beach, N.J. (Adrees Latif/Reuters)

Before superstorm Sandy hit the New Jersey shore, Ortley Beach resident Nick Maria left for safer ground. When he returned, he found that his summer home wasn't damaged. Rather, it was completely missing. It was as if David Copperfield had pulled a fast one.

If only. Perplexed, Maria called his township, which proved to be no help. "The township didn't know what happened," he told MyFoxNY on Wednesday. He then called the office of the governor. An assistant asked if he was sure his house was gone. Maria replied, "Miss, you misplace your pen and your pencil. You don't misplace your house."

[Photos: Sandy: Road to recovery]

Maria then asked MyFoxNY to help him. The station reached out to the New Jersey Department of Transportation and was told, "The structure in question ... was pushed off its foundation and jammed against another house that had come to rest in the middle of the street. The two houses had sandwiched a utility pole. Our crews did not take down any structure unless it was deemed to be unsafe."

The DOT said the home had shifted off its foundation and had been blown into the middle of the road, a contention that Maria disagrees with. He has a post-storm photograph taken by a neighbor that shows his home far from the street, and he has hired a lawyer.

[Photos: Sandy from above]

The loss of his home has been understandably tough on Maria and his wife. Not only was his house completely destroyed, but all their belongings were, too.

Maria was especially upset that he never received a phone call letting him know that his home was about to be demolished. The DOT told MyFoxNY that reaching out to homeowners would have caused a delay when time was of the essence. Maria summed it up like this: "Worse than bizarre. It's very sad. Very disheartening."