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A Vision Of Destruction [PHOTOS, VIDEO]

Gov. Chris Christie visited Seaside Heights and saw first hand the devastation on the tourist town, calling it “our Katrina.”

Residents were allowed back officially for the first time to Seaside Heights on Friday and were shocked and in tears at what they saw.

““It’s heartbreaking,” Ariel Long told the Asbury Park Press as she and her mother collected Social Security cards, Rosary beads and photographs.

Laurie Molinaro crawled through a window to enter her home according the Asbury Park Press. “Oh my God” was her initial reaction as she scanned the damage caused by several feet of water. “It is what it is,” she said. “We’re here. We’re alive.”

Steve Dabern was among those who grabbed all the warm clothing he could as soon as he got back into his Toms River house, which had 2 ½ feet of water in it at the height of the storm.

His reaction when he walked in the front door?

“Complete, utter shock,” he said. “Sickness. I felt sick. The floor was all torn up. The refrigerator was on its side. All the tables and chairs from the kitchen were pushed into the living room.

“We waited eight days to get here, and the anticipation, the not knowing what would be there, was incredible,” he said. “Now it’s just a shock. It’s a total mess.”

Governor Chris Christie seemed to get a bit emotional as he came to the place where he spent many summers in his childhood reports the Star Ledger.

The Governor  toured the island and  Christie says he expects life to return to normal Monday for most of New Jersey. And nearly everyone will have power restored by midnight Saturday. But he cautioned that the Jersey Shore won’t look the same next summer as it did last summer.

“I want to be honest and direct about this,” the governor said according to the Star Ledger. “This phase is going to take months — months, if not years — to be completed fully and to our satisfaction. The devastation we’ve seen over the last week is not something that can be rebuilt overnight. And I have to tell you a hard truth. Next summer is not going to be like last summer.”

He says he may lift the gasoline rationing system in place in 12 counties by early next week. He says the rationing has worked and lines at the pump have become rare as live returns to pre-Sandy for many as power and clean water are once again available.

“By Monday morning, when everybody gets up, for the overwhelming majority of the state, life will be back to what they perceive as normal,” Christie said.

Eighty percent of schools were able to be opened by Friday. Christie says even more will be ready on Monday.

The Associated Press contributed to this story

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