Home Again Thanks to Habitat

New Jersey Monthly
Monday, September 15, 2014

Posted September 4, 2014 by Lauren Payne

Hurricane Sandy wrecked havoc on many Jersey Shore families, but with the aid of Coastal Habitat for Humanity, life is beginning to return to normal.

When Superstorm Sandy hit, police officer John Antman sprang into action, saving a man trapped by rising floodwaters in Jersey City, where Antman is a specialist with the Emergency Services Unit. Meanwhile, in Neptune, Antman’s wife, Kelly, and their now 15-year-old daughter, Bailey, were assessing the situation at the family’s three-bedroom home, just off the Shark River.

"At first we weren’t going to leave," says Kelly, a supervisor of cardiac services at Jersey Shore Medical Center. But as the river started to rise, she and Bailey fled to her parents’ home in Tinton Falls with their two dogs and their pajamas.

The next afternoon, the Antmans waded back to their ravaged home. Four feet of water had swept through the front door and out the back. "The house was like a snow globe—like someone shook it up and put it back down," says Kelly. Two boats had crashed through the side of the house, shoving it off its foundation.

The couple gutted the house and began rebuilding, but quickly exhausted their insurance money and savings. Enter Coastal Habitat for Humanity, whose volunteers completed the work in about 30 days.

"They weren’t eligible for any other programs,” says executive director Maureen Mulligan, “so we jumped in to help."

Coastal Habitat, based in Spring Lake, is one of 24 Habitat affiliates in the state. Through federal grants, private donations, fundraisers and “amazing volunteers,” it has helped more than 30 Sandy families return home.

"We will work until the last home is repaired," says Mulligan.

All September and October, the New Jersey chapter of the American Society of Interior Designers, through its Spruce It Up Campaign, will provide design consultations at $150 per hour, with all proceeds going to Habitat for Humanity.