‘He never walked the boardwalk with me that summer’: Sandy couple finishes rebuilding home just before husband dies

Some residents across New Jersey are still recovering from the destruction of Superstorm Sandy as we approach 10 years, and one Ortley Beach couple paid the ultimate price to rebuild what they lost.

News 12 Staff

Oct 19, 2022, 10:55 AM

Updated 643 days ago

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Some residents across New Jersey are still recovering from the destruction of Superstorm Sandy as we approach 10 years, and one Ortley Beach couple paid the ultimate price to rebuild what they lost.
Ten years ago, News 12’s Brian Donohue met Mary and Charles Janesak outside their beach house, which along with much of a section of Toms River, had been obliterated by the storm surge.

Charlie invited Brian to have a drink with him up on the deck when the house was rebuilt, but it never happened. The job of building the new home took more than seven years and was finally completed in the summer of 2019, but in September -- Charlie died of a sudden heart attack.
“He never walked the boardwalk with me that summer he didn't feel well, and we did that every day forever,” says Mary.
His family makes no bones about the toll the seven-year rebuilding process had on Charlie. They received $250,000 in flood insurance money; Charlie paid $100,000 of it up front to a builder they say never finished the job. So, they had to hire a second builder.
“My husband died because of him and the stress. He lied to us,” says Mary.
There were the endless battles for permits, the battles with insurance. Thousands of New Jersey Sandy victims know it all too well.
“The stress,” says Mary. “He couldn't sleep at night. He would get up in the middle of the night and pace the floor.”
Charlie and Mary met in freshman algebra at Garfield High School and were married years later at the Brownstone House in Paterson. In 1979, Charles, a school librarian in Fort Lee and Mary, a teacher in North Bergen, spent every penny they had on a rundown $46,000 bungalow -- every weekend fixing it up.
In the end, Charlie didn't get to enjoy the place himself, and what he spent those seven years trying to build was something to pass along to those he loved most.
“Just pick up and keep going,” says Mary. “For me it was for the kids. It was all for the grandkids."    


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