SEASIDE HEIGHTS, N.J. (AP) — The waterfront rides on Casino Pier are gone, swallowed by the sea. A roller coaster bobs lazily in the waves. Sand, leaves and debris choke roads lined with houses that rest on their sides.
The barrier island home to Seaside Heights and other communities where legions of vacationers from New Jersey and beyond made summer memories is a scene of devastation days after superstorm Sandy's surge enveloped it.
Seaside Heights, where families have walked the boardwalk, eaten fried dough and ridden amusement park rides for generations, is in ruins. The boardwalk made famous by MTV's hit reality show "Jersey Shore" has been destroyed, with parts of it sticking straight up. Sand pushed up from the beach fills the road parallel to it.
The rides at Casino Pier, a waterfront amusement park, vanished under the Atlantic Ocean's power. A roller coaster from the Funtown Pier sat in the ocean. Roofs were ripped off houses, and utility poles were snapped in two, with their power lines tangled like shoelaces.
The house where the "Jersey Shore" cast lived appeared to avoid any damage. But elsewhere on the island — technically a long, narrow peninsula — boats had been tossed like toys, resting atop houses and cars. One lay next to a motel.
About 300 people have been taken off the island since the storm passed, public safety officials said. About 70 remain and will be ordered to leave and not allowed to return to the island until at least the weekend.
"We have to get everyone off the island because there is total devastation," Seaside Heights Police Chief Thomas Boyd said Wednesday at a news conference.
In Ortley Beach, a section of the community of Toms River, sinkholes swallowed roads, roofs caved in and homes lay on their sides, separated from passable roads by pools of water.