BRICK - A religious figurine that washed up in a marshy area of Brick Township during Hurricane Sandy is inspiring hope among residents there still reeling from the storm.

Some say the 3-foot figurine along the Barnegat Bay is a statue of Saint Francis of Assisi, a saint said to protect wildlife. The statue apparently came in with floodwaters.

Neighbors told News 12 New Jersey that they spotted the statue standing upright.

The statue stands about 50 yards from resident Lois LePore's home. LePore says it makes him feel hopeful.

"It could have come in on its side or under the water," says LePore. "But it's standing up."

People have been visiting the statue to take pictures. One resident told News 12 New Jersey that people who hear about the statue come because they want to see it, and that its mysterious appearance along the bay is a great sign of hope.