BRITTANY LE STRANGE: This is Brittany Le Strange, interviewing Joe Mangino on July 18, 2013 at three o'clock at Tuckerton Seaport Museum. And how old are you, Mr. Mangino?

JOE MANGINO: How old am I?


JOE MANGINO: Forty-three.

BRITTANY LE STRANGE: Forty-three? And since this is an audio interview, can you tell me a little bit about your background in terms of race and ethnicity?

JOE MANGINO: Um, Italian [laughs]

BRITTANY LE STRANGE: And where are you from?

JOE MANGINO: From Beach Haven West section of Stafford Township.

BRITTANY LE STRANGE: How long have you lived there?

JOE MANGINO: About eight years now.

BRITTANY LE STRANGE: Eight years? Why there?

JOE MANGINO: We've lived in Ocean County for a while, we lived over on Cedar Bonnet Island, and we grew out of that house, you know, had a few kids, so we moved over to Beach Haven West. We like the area and just want to stay near the water, close to the beach.

BRITTANY LE STRANGE: Tell me about your family.

JOE MANGINO: I have a wife, Becky. She's a teacher in Stafford Township. And I have two daughters. Sophia's twelve and Giatta is six.


BRITTANY LE STRANGE: And what do you do?

JOE MANGINO: I have my own little business called Deck Restoration Plus and we do exterior wood restoration and power washing.

BRITTANY LE STRANGE: And how long have you done that?

JOE MANGINO: Ten years. It's our ten-year anniversary.

BRITTANY LE STRANGE: Okay. What do you like about living in New Jersey?

JOE MANGINO: Oh, I love Jersey. Raised in South Jersey, raised in the Pine Barons and have been here on the coast for the last twenty-some years, and I just- it's a great place. I love being on the beach. Definitely think there's distinction between South Jersey and North Jersey. When people ask me where I'm from, I say, "South Jersey, the good Jersey."

[Both laugh.]

BRITTANY LE STRANGE: What shore do you go to?

JOE MANGINO: I don't go to the shore, I go to the beach. [Laughs] But I'm on Long Beach Island quite a bit.

BRITTANY LE STRANGE: Okay. Tell me about your neighborhood and your community.

JOE MANGINO: Beach Haven West is- we live in the cove section. It's a nice kind 2:00of middle class part of town with a decent seasonal population. On our street there's, you know, a few year-rounders, which is great because it's kind of quiet. Great summer activity. We have the lagoons. We have the bay right there. It's just, it's just a really good town.

BRITTANY LE STRANGE: And are you involved in the community, like, before Sandy?

JOE MANGINO: Yes. I coach all my daughters' sports teams. I coach soccer, field hockey, basketball, field hockey, so yeah-


JOE MANGINO: Yeah, we get around. [Laughs]

BRITTANY LE STRANGE: How are the schools in the area?

JOE MANGINO: Schools are great.

BRITTANY LE STRANGE: Any crime or anything in the area?

JOE MANGINO: A little bit after Sandy.


JOE MANGINO: That we took care of.

BRITTANY LE STRANGE: Any community events, anything like that?


BRITTANY LE STRANGE: Block parties, things like that. Like annual events in the community.

JOE MANGINO: We go to a lot of stuff that the Stafford Rec Department puts together, you know, the Founders Day parade and all those things. It's a great outing.


BRITTANY LE STRANGE: When did you first hear the storm was coming?

JOE MANGINO: You know, we sort of tracked it in the beginning, way back before it even hit the Caribbean. Kind of, being a surfer I'm always looking out for that anyway, and we watched it sort of march up the coast, and then we started to- I don't want to say panic, but we started to get prepared, because we got chased around by Irene last year. We were on vacation in the Outer Banks and we had to evacuate from there, and then we got home just in time to evacuate again. So my family left. I stayed for that one, but my family left. But for Sandy, yeah, we all left.

BRITTANY LE STRANGE: What were your first thoughts?

JOE MANGINO: Um, I was hoping it was gonna be like Irene. I didn't expect the damage that we got. We knew it was gonna be big, we knew it was gonna be bad. But based on talking with my neighbor, who was an old-time clamber who's been there forever, we thought we'd get water in the streets and it would could up, but never thought we would get the damage that we did.


BRITTANY LE STRANGE: How did you prepare?

JOE MANGINO: Um, I guess not well enough. [Laughs] You know, we packed up some things. I sent my wife and the girls up to a friend's house. They stayed. I stayed at the house and I was pretty much determined to stay again. I wasn't gonna leave. But my wife nagged me enough that when the water was up to the bumper of my truck, I did finally leave. So before I left, I pulled some stuff up in the garage, where I have my business. I put stuff up on the work benches. We did things like that. But again, we didn't expect-


JOE MANGINO: -the damage we were going to get.

BRITTANY LE STRANGE: What was the availability of supplies beforehand?

JOE MANGINO: We didn't have an issue. We got the basics, and we already had it. We have a little supply of, you know, whatever- the waters and the flashlights and all that. So, I mean, we were prepared. We took stuff with us when we went to stay with our friends.

BRITTANY LE STRANGE: Okay. Did you wait in long lines beforehand?

JOE MANGINO: No, we didn't.


JOE MANGINO: Actually, we learned from Irene, because for that one, when we got 5:00home we didn't have too much together, and we're like, "Oh, we better get some batteries." And we ran out. We were, like, the last ones out trying to get stuff, and we really didn't have much.

BRITTANY LE STRANGE: Do you believe there was adequate warning before the storm?

JOE MANGINO: Oh yeah. Yeah, plenty of warning.

BRITTANY LE STRANGE: What did you make of the governor's warnings?

JOE MANGINO: Like I said, I sent my family. So, he was right. The people- everyone on the island should have left.

BRITTANY LE STRANGE: Take me through the day of the storm.

JOE MANGINO: The day of the storm. Before the storm rolled in, I was over on the island, doing a few last minute things. I stopped by a friend's house to see if I could help them board up, make sure they were okay. I went back to my house. We had a few windows that I boarded up because they were older, just, you know, secured everything, tied everything down. Like I said, put things in my garage, up as high as I could. And that was it. My wife spent time packing, getting the girls together. They took all their stuff and they left.


BRITTANY LE STRANGE: What was the first sign of the storm?

JOE MANGINO: [pause, sighs] You know, at first it wasn't that bad, because I guess the storm was so massive that it kind of slowly moved in. I was up on the beach and I was looking at the surf and I could see, you know, pretty rough and I'm sure it's gonna get rougher. But to me, the early signs of the storm, I thought it wasn't that bad. It's gonna be like this, just for a longer duration. We should be okay. But then I remember, in the middle of the night, when the winds kicked up and things really started moving. I got that chill thinking, "oh boy, here we go."

BRITTANY LE STRANGE: Um, how long were you out of work and your kids and your wife out of school?

JOE MANGINO: I was out of work for a long time, because all my equipment was in my garage, so it was all under four feet of water. Yeah. And because of that, I was doing- I was also working a second job at the time as a fisheries biologist, 7:00and we do data collection across the state. Well, all of our sites were destroyed, too.


JOE MANGINO: So, we lost that job. My wife- in a way it kind of worked out, because the teachers were off that following week for the teachers' convention-

BRITTANY LE STRANGE: That's right, I remember that.

JOE MANGINO: So that's how we ended up getting a lot of volunteers. And then they were still off because of the storm, the following week. So, they ended up being off for two weeks.

BRITTANY LE STRANGE: Right. And did your power go out?

JOE MANGINO: Yes. Yeah, we lost everything.

BRITTANY LE STRANGE: How long were you without power?

JOE MANGINO: Our house didn't have power for, I want to say we were probably about two to three weeks. I don't remember exactly, but I want to say three weeks.

BRITTANY LE STRANGE: That first day after the storm, how did you get your information with all the cell phones being down and everything?

JOE MANGINO: I went to my house. I obviously couldn't sleep that night, so I just tossed and turned all night, and it was probably about five o'clock and we were staying at our friends', and I was already dressed. I mean, I laid on the top of the bed because I just couldn't sleep. So, about five o'clock I got up 8:00and drove to our house. And as I'm leaving out the door, my wife says, "I knew you were up, I knew you were going." "I gotta go, I gotta go." So I made that ride back and as I'm coming the street, you know, the street was just covered in debris and all that. The water had receded, but then as I turned down to my street, you just, you caught the smell of everything, I was thinking, "ugh." And I pulled into the driveway and at the same time, my neighbor who had evacuated, he called me on the phone and he said, "Are you back yet?" and I said, "I just pulled in." And I remember opening the door and he's on the phone, I'm like, "oh man, oh man." He's like, "is it bad?" "Yeah, it's pretty bad." So, I had a-

BRITTANY LE STRANGE: When would you say the immediate storm ended?

JOE MANGINO: Well, it's tough. Like I said, when I got back around five thirty, six, you know, to me I thought the storm was over. I was only there a couple hours before the tide came in and chased us out again, so-


JOE MANGINO: Yeah. So, we got little after-effects, too. It was pretty weird, 9:00because when I pulled in and, like I said, I was talking to him, I walked in the house, and I come out, I'm standing in the driveway, I'm like, "what the hell?" And, you know, the clouds are racing by, and all of a sudden, the clouds kind of part over my house, and there's a rainbow. I'm like, "you've gotta be kidding me?" I'm like, I look up, I like, "are you mocking me?" I see the rainbow, and then I see this bald eagle, he comes in and he actually flies under the rainbow, like hovering over my house for a minute. And then he flies off, the rainbow disappears, then, like, the clouds come back, and I'm like, "was that for real? Did that really just happen?"

[Both laugh]

BRITTANY LE STRANGE: Signs of good things to come, maybe? So, what went through your mind that first day, then, when you started going through the house and going through everything?

JOE MANGINO: It was- I kind of knew what had to be done because we had a flood issue in our house before, not storm related. So, I understood, like, gutting your house. You know, you have to get the stuff out. But, I stayed in the 10:00driveway, I betcha it was a good two hours, just, like, looking at my house and looking at my neighbor's, and I have that smell of the marsh, and I'm thinking, "what the hell are we gonna do?" I knew it was a long road, and I'm like, "what are we going to do?" I didn't even feel like starting. I was just, like, "ugh, what the-?" I didn't know where to start. When I opened up the garage door and I saw what was in there, I told people, it looks like someone turned a blender on. The freezer was upside down. Everything was just turned around. Everything was just- it was a mess. And I had no idea where to start.

BRITTANY LE STRANGE: It's amazing, the force of water.


BRITTANY LE STRANGE: Um, let's see. How would you say, scale of one to ten, how bad were your damages?

JOE MANGINO: Compared to other people whose houses just got totally flattened, I would say we're five or six. Because really, I mean, we had to rebuild the entire first floor. The garage was totaled. We lost most of our possessions. We 11:00had two bedrooms upstairs that were spared, and a bathroom, which ended up getting damaged later when a pipe when we were trying to restart our heat, so. But, I mean, compared to some of the other homes that we were in, I gotta, say, in a way we were lucky, because it wasn't a total loss. It was seventy-five pecent loss, but [laughs]

BRITTANY LE STRANGE: How did you go about getting your day-to-day necessities with everyone in line at that time?

JOE MANGINO: Things just really showed up. What happened- I mean, our friends responded right away. Like I said, after the first couple hours when we were there, my wife came. She brought my kids. The people we were staying with, they came, and then a couple other friends, they came, and we all just got right to work. And stuff just started piling in and people knew, kind of, where to go. I mean, the whole group I got involved with, that's kind of how it started. It all 12:00started in our house.

BRITTANY LE STRANGE: How long was it before you got back in your house?

JOE MANGINO: We were out of the house for 131 days.


JOE MANGINO: And then when we moved back, the house wasn't completed, but we had heat and we had running water.

BRITTANY LE STRANGE: That's all you really need.

JOE MANGINO: That's all you really need. Yeah, I mean we ended up doing our dishes in the bathtub for a couple months, and, you know, things like that, but it was just- we stayed with fantastic friends and it was great and they put us up, but at the same time, you know, we just wanted to be home.

BRITTANY LE STRANGE: So, you looked to friends for support. Did FEMA help at all? Or insurance companies?

JOE MANGINO: FEMA? Not really. We did get rental assistance for three months, and that was it. The insurance company, they just, they made things worse, because we went months without getting any money from them, and it was a battle, the whole way. And when we finally did get money, then it went to the mortgage 13:00company, not right to us, and then we had to fight the mortgage company to get it. And yeah, it was a battle. And really, we feel that we didn't even get enough. I think it was light by $30-40,000.

BRITTANY LE STRANGE: How did you cope, besides being with friends and family?

JOE MANGINO: That was easy. We worked. We worked in the neighborhood, we worked gutting homes, we worked setting up the community center to help people out. You know, we just- that was kind of- that was my safety valve was going out and working. I tell people all the time, every morning when I would drive from our friends' house to the community center or to my house for our volunteer days, that was the worst part was the driving, because it gave me fifteen minutes of quiet to think and, like, everything that was going on was getting in. It was an emotional ride every day, back and forth, but once I got there and we got setup 14:00and volunteers came in, it was work time. I just put my head down and we just plowed through it, and that's what we did.

BRITTANY LE STRANGE: First, what does START stand for?

JOE MANGINO: START is Stafford Teachers and Residents Together.

BRITTANY LE STRANGE: And how did that come together?

JOE MANGINO: The second day after the storm, we returned to our house to, you know, finish gutting, pulling stuff out, doing everything that needed to be done, and as I mentioned, my wife's a teacher, so, say, like maybe nine, ten in the morning, a bunch of people pulled up. And it was led by a teacher named Mike Dunley, who was the co-founder of START. And they showed up. There was a bunch of people to help. So they helped us gut the rest of our home, get all of our possessions that we could save out, get everything that had to hit the trash out, and we did that. And when they were done, then we continued hitting houses on our street, and for the next two weeks, since the teachers were off, every day we would meet. Once my house was gutted, we set up my house as a basecamp, 15:00where we had food. All the supplies were there, you know, gloves and masks and tools, all that. So, we worked out of our house for the next two weeks, til- until the election. And then we talked to the town and asked if we could borrow the community center. They said, "sure, as soon as the election's done." So we moved everything from my home into the [Name Unclear] community center, and then we worked out of there for, I think, another two months.

BRITTANY LE STRANGE: I remember reading, is it you saved people close to $2.5 million?

JOE MANGINO: We've increased that now to $3 million.


JOE MANGINO: Yeah. We figure with demo costs and everything, we saved them about $3 million.

BRITTANY LE STRANGE: About how many hours of volunteering?

JOE MANGINO: We estimate, probably about 15,000 hours, and that's with probably over 2,500 volunteers.


JOE MANGINO: It's remarkable. And I don't know- I keep telling people, I don't know how it started, but it started, and it caught on fire, and we just rolled 16:00with it. I mean, Mike and I had never done anything like this before. It really exploded when we put out a flyer. We put the flyer out, and it had our cell phones on it, which, that was a mistake [Both laugh.] But as soon as that flyer it, I mean, the phone was just ringing off the hook. I couldn't keep my voicemail from 100% full. It was just ringing nonstop. But, I mean, word spread and people came to volunteer. Not just the residents in the area and the teachers, but all of a sudden, we're getting people from West Virginia, Ohio, colleges are calling from New Hampshire, "hey, we're coming down." And everybody met. We had a Saturday where we had 350 volunteers show up.


JOE MANGINO: And I'm like, I started to panic. I'm like, "oh my god, how am I gonna organize this?" We had- I knew we had enough work, but, you know, we had these little post-its with an address and people came and we put them in groups and supplies just came flooding in from everywhere. I mean, the town was great in sending us- I would call them and say, "do you have this, do you have this?" 17:00Or someone would call me and say, "I have a shipment, where should I take it?" And the town would say, "send it here," and they would unload it for me. It was crazy.

BRITTANY LE STRANGE: Great. And how did the sign come about?

JOE MANGINO: The sign is- the original sign is- one Christmas, I made my wife, a- I took a hunk of fence and I made, like, an American flag, and instead of stars, I did starfish. And that was in front of our house, and somehow that survived the storm. That was there. And so, when we were taking pictures, when everyone was around and all that, we had that little flag. And so, my wife had the idea to- she wanted to do something. You know, the name START then came about, and she wanted to do something to kind of symbolize that, so she had the idea of taking the starfish flag and doing something similar, so her- another teacher, Suzie Batoolah, one day when we're there organizing everything, she shows up and I guess her and my wife, Becky, were talking, and they got this hunk of fence that came from our yard-


BRITTANY LE STRANGE: So, it's actually your fence?

JOE MANGINO: Yeah, and they started- they came up with the flag, which is neat. And then, once that was done, I'm like, "Oh, we gotta get everyone to sign it, get the volunteers." So every day, it was sitting out front, and new volunteers that showed up, we would have them sign it. So, it's really neat. Definitely took off, and it really symbolizes, you know, what the group is and what we've been able to do.

BRITTANY LE STRANGE: It's amazing. How did you feel about the response of government and organizations, FEMA, basically, everything?

JOE MANGINO: On a local level, I thought our town, I thought Stafford Township did a fantastic job. I mean, obviously, nobody's ever been through this. But I mean, the day after, I think the public works guys were out, and they worked ten straight days just doing what they could. And the police and the fire, and the local level were fantastic. FEMA and Red Cross and- they did some things, which- I was disappointed because I felt our group did a lot more than they did. And it 19:00actually got to the point where the residents that were calling us, they were calling saying, "Yes, FEMA told us to call you, the Red Cross told us to call you, that you could help." And we're like, "Okay, what do you need?" [Both laugh] And then, there was one day-

BRITTANY LE STRANGE: That sounds a lot right there.

JOE MANGINO: Yeah, the Red Cross showed up, looking for supplies from us, asking us if we had masks and we had suits, and- Shouldn't this be the other way around?


JOE MANGINO: So, yeah, they were there and they did some good things, but I definitely learned, just count on your local level, count on the volunteers, and that's how we powered through. We tried to just leave anything government out of it.

BRITTANY LE STRANGE: With all the demolition, how was trash pickup in the area?

JOE MANGINO: It worked well. It was amazing. I know some people weren't happy that the trash sat out there, but I mean, the amount of trash that was there, it's just- you could go down the street and then ten minutes later it was filled again. It was never-ended and it took a long time to get it, but again, the 20:00town, the public work guys, ten straight days they were out, and they were busting their butts. I kind of got angry when I heard people say, you know, "our trash is still sitting here, when are they gonna come?" And they might have already come, you don't notice. These are mountains. Everything you have is out on the street right now.

BRITTANY LE STRANGE: Yeah. It's scary.

JOE MANGINO: Yeah. And once the feds took over, you know, they came and they did what they had to do. It was good. And once the streets got cleared of those mountains of debris, psychologically it just felt better. I mean, it looked a little bit better. It wasn't normal, but at least you could see, "alright, there's a little bit of progress."

BRITTANY LE STRANGE: You're not staring at your personal possessions right in front of you every second anymore.

JOE MANGINO: Right, exactly. And then you had the scavengers coming around, and-

BRITTANY LE STRANGE: Was that big in the area, the looters and all that?

JOE MANGINO: Yeah, we had some issues. That first- second day, I put up a little 12x12 tent, and then anything that we had that was any good, I put inside the tent that was in my front yard and I ran shrink wrap around it. And that day, I 21:00remember, we saw three or four guys I'd never seen before. They were really sketchy looking dudes, walking up and down the street. I'm like, "these guys are checking places out." I could see it. So, I made a sign. I took a big piece of plywood and I wrote, "I will shoot you." And I stuck it on the trashcans and stuck it in front of my tent. I said, you know, "it might not deter them, but maybe they'll go to my neighbor's house because they think that I'm crazy." And there were some places in the area where cops were catching guys looting and all that and then just the scrappers coming around, trying to take stuff.

BRITTANY LE STRANGE: Were police patrols upped?

JOE MANGINO: Oh yeah, yeah, there was a good police presence. And then the National Guard and the, what was it? Alabama? No, Louisiana state troopers. They were here a lot, and so, I mean, I felt pretty secure.

BRITTANY LE STRANGE: Okay. Do you believe New Jersey prepared adequately?

JOE MANGINO: Yeah. Because, like I said, everybody had plenty of warning. And this was an historical storm, so how prepared can you be for something that has 22:00never happened before? I think our area was fine. I've been to other areas such as Ortley Beach and those places, and I don't know if it was preparation or what's going on now, but I feel like our area made out a lot better.

BRITTANY LE STRANGE: Do you think there was anything the state could have done differently? Dunes or have people raise houses sooner type-thing, like, just with standards, state standards in general?

JOE MANGINO: Well, some of the areas that were affected, you know, on LBI, the dunes were an issue. Places that had some replenishment done such as Harvey Cedars, where if they didn't have the dune replenishment a couple years ago, they probably would have been wiped out like Holgate. And same thing up north, a lot of those -- Seaside, Ortley, they don't have dunes, and they don't want dunes because, I don't know why. They're foolish. As far as house raising, people- when you live in this area, you have to understand that water's gonna come, and I don't get why people are fighting the new flood zones now. I'm 23:00raising my house. Why wouldn't you? I had eighteen inches of water, and even if I raise to the current flood zone, the current level, I'd still be under water if Sandy hit, so I'm going up as high as I can go. I said, if I'm going to live here, why not?

BRITTANY LE STRANGE: How high are you raising?

JOE MANGINO: Technically, I think I have to go up two blocks, which would be, I think about two feet, but I want to go four feet. I want to go up as high as I can afford to go.

BRITTANY LE STRANGE: That's low, from comparisons I've heard to other townships.

JOE MANGINO: Yeah, I think- I could be wrong, but I thought our flood level was 9+1, so that would put us at 10, and my elevation right now is, like, 8.4, I think. So I have to get up to that.

BRITTANY LE STRANGE: How far are you from the water?

JOE MANGINO: It's funny, because we're not on the water. On our street, the lagoons start across the street from me, so I actually back up to woods. Part of the Forsyth Refuge. And that's another reason I thought, oh, well we shouldn't 24:00flood because I'm not on water. Well, it turns out, we got more water in our house than the people that live right on the lagoons did. Because Mill Creek runs behind us, and I guess that along with just all the other water rushing in is what did us. Yeah-

BRITTANY LE STRANGE: It all just came rushing in.

JOE MANGINO: Yeah, because if you look at the back of my house, everything that was in the woods got pushed right up to the back of my house, so I got a surge coming from the back.

BRITTANY LE STRANGE: Do you believe after everything was done, that everyone responded adequately that first day? Like, the governor, the president and everything?

JOE MANGINO: I think so. People were definitely active. There were areas we couldn't get to. Police had it blocked off. I know a lot of residents were trying to get to their homes and they couldn't. You know, shelters, everything -- the shelters were already set up, and I know they had positioned Red Cross supplies in the area, so stuff was here. It just took some time to get it.


BRITTANY LE STRANGE: Do you believe it was just a freak occurrence, or have anything to do with environmental changes?

JOE MANGINO: Yeah, I think some of it did. I'm kind of a global warming guy. So, Irene was a big storm last year. It didn't hit our area, but when you go up further north into Vermont, it destroyed that place. And then we had that nor'easter after Sandy that was pretty bad. So, yeah, the frequency of storms, they're getting more severe, sea levels are rising. And that's another thing, those new flood zones, they don't take those things into account. I know it's a long time away, but they say in a hundred years, LBI will be under water. So, why would you fight a flood zone when sea levels are changing, storms are increasing? Raise your house.

BRITTANY LE STRANGE: How did you feel about the media coverage? Did you think it was accurate? Did you feel represented?

JOE MANGINO: Early in the recovery, yes, because the story was, you know, 26:00rescue, recovery, and all that. As we progressed and as, like, our group and other groups started to move from recovery into rebuilding, then we, you know, we ran into issues where they just kind of wanted to say the whole Jersey shore was destroyed and there's nothing left. And we're sitting here trying to rebuild our house, help rebuild the businesses, get things opened again. And it was tough. We actually had to kind of mount our own marketing campaign to say, "hey, we're gonna be open come summer. Come see us." They kind of lumped everybody together, like we were all Seaside and Ortley Beach, and all our boardwalks are gone, and things like that. I would love to have seen more stories on these great groups that came in and just donated their time and their money and helped rebuild, and everything they did instead of, you know, there was just a lot of fighting about who to blame for this and who to blame for that.

BRITTANY LE STRANGE: What did you think about Obama and Christie?

JOE MANGINO: I'm just glad they worked together [both laugh] I understand they 27:00have to do the pictures. They have to go stand in front of some rubble and then five months later stand in front of a store that's reopening. It seems like, at least those two, they pushed their party differences aside and got together and worked. I just- I'm the kind of person that, just get stuff done. I don't care. Don't take a picture, just do it. Actions speak louder than words. But the governor's office, for me, was fantastic. They reached out to us a bunch of times and we have access to them. Whenever we needed stuff, we could call them. They kept us in the loop on everything as far as, like, funding that's coming in, things like that. I actually met the governor when he came here, and then they invited us when him and Obama were up in Asbury Park a few months ago, so we got to go to that event, which was- you know, it was nice. They kind of 28:00recognized the effort that START did, helping the community, which, you know, we obviously appreciated.

BRITTANY LE STRANGE: Did it change your opinion of Christie at all? [unclear]

JOE MANGINO: Yeah, and you know, with my wife being a teacher and all the other teachers, they have an opinion of Christie, which is probably a little bit different than mine. I thought he- as far as the storm goes, I appreciate everything he did. You know, he seemed like he was legit in cutting the red tape, let's just get this stuff done, let's move on. And that's what I love. I like that. Obviously, I don't agree with him on everything, but as far as the storm's concerned, I was definitely happy.

BRITTANY LE STRANGE: In comparisons to other storms you've experienced and other storms the United States has experienced that you've seen, like on the news and everything, how do you believe the response was in comparison?

JOE MANGINO: On a scale of 1-10, I would give it a 9, when you look back and 29:00think about --I know the other big one everybody talks about was Katrina.


JOE MANGINO: Where it seems like that was just a disaster after a disaster. Nobody was on the same page, and it was a nightmare. With us- and again, I don't know the little groups down there- because the one thing I learned was, I'm not gonna count on any big government or any of the big charity groups to help us, because- god forbid anything like this happens again, we're gonna do the same thing. We're gonna start local. We're gonna get these local groups involved, and I think we know how to handle it best.

BRITTANY LE STRANGE: How has it shaped environmental issues?

JOE MANGINO: Beach replenishment is gonna be huge. You know, there's still people on the island that haven't signed the easements, which to me is just, it's unbelievable. As a surfer, I am for and against beach replenishment, because obviously I want to see the beach protected, but at the same time, they're ruining people come to the beach to enjoy, the sandbars.



JOE MANGINO: So, they're smart enough to modify the replenishment models and do it so that they protect the beach, but don't destroy the sandbars. But, you know, the Army CORPS I guess, they're locked into their older way of doing things and they don't want to change unless they're forced to change. I know they did a sample section up in Harvey Cedars, a six-block section that actually left sandbar, so that's great. If that works, why not do it the whole length of the island? That's why people come to the beach, they come for the sandbars, and if you take them away, (1) it's dangerous because you have a huge shore break, and (2) they're just gonna go somewhere else.

BRITTANY LE STRANGE: Yeah. Does it make you personally think about changing anything?

JOE MANGINO: I think we've changed a lot. It's changed, you know, speaking for myself and my family, it's changed our whole outlook on life. We've, like I 31:00said, we've been active in the community, doing things here and there. We've never experienced this, and we got involved, and we volunteered like crazy, and it- we're definitely going to be even more active in the community. We're making START an official 501c3 nonprofit, so START's going to be here forever.

BRITTANY LE STRANGE: That's amazing.

JOE MANGINO: Not just for Hurricane Sandy relief, but our goal is to- one of the things we learned is to be- we kind of want to be the first responder of relief groups. We may not be able to solve your problem, but we want to be there right after it happens to sort of have your back. Maybe we can help you with a few little things. We just kind of want to stabilize the situation. So, going forward, that's what we want to do. And that's all because of Sandy. I mean, we were so lucky that the people we came in contact with and the people we met, and I say it all the time, people ask me, "why do you keep doing it," and I say, I've met some of the most amazing people that hopped in their car and drove from 32:00Ohio, all their own expenses, to come and help us. And I said, when Katrina happened and other things, sure, we sent a few dollars to a charity group, but I never once thought about getting in my car and driving anywhere. So, you know, we're definitely more active, even when the tornadoes in Oklahoma hit, right away we had gift cards together. We had supplies that we no longer needed here, we sent them down there. So, we're moving forward. It definitely changed our outlook on life, and I think we're definitely appreciating the summer a lot.

BRITTANY LE STRANGE: Have things returned to semi-normal, or not quite yet?

JOE MANGINO: We're getting there, yeah. I mean for us, obviously being home is huge. The house is still kind of a mess, but it's almost done. Today, as a matter of fact, they're wrapping up the siding. We resided the house, that had to be done. Last week I put in the windows. Our kitchen's done. And now it's just like odds and ends of, like, trim work, a little painting, and we're still 33:00stuck with the clutter because we just have boxes of whatever, everywhere, and it is kind of a mess, but just being home is great. We- I started my garden. We have a big garden in the front yard, and I was a month late, but I said, "I don't care."

BRITTANY LE STRANGE: It's therapeutic.

JOE MANGINO: Yeah, I'm starting my garden, I'm doing it. So, we're doing that. And we added this year, we did organic blueberry bushes on each side of our property, and that's something we've wanted to do for years and we just, you know, we never got around to it. I said, "that's it, we're starting a garden and we're getting blueberry bushes and we're returning to normal, whatever normal is."

BRITTANY LE STRANGE: Exactly. Do you have set plans to raise the house or are you still unsure about the date yet?

JOE MANGINO: I know they say we have four years to do it. So, I'm waiting to see what kind of funding we can get. We're gonna apply for the ICC grant and then also that new- we got approved for the new federal grant that's out now. I 34:00forget what it's called -- the RREM, Recovery-Something.

BRITTANY LE STRANGE: Sounds familiar.

JOE MANGINO: Yeah, whatever that one is. I have a meeting with them coming up in a couple weeks.

BRITTANY LE STRANGE: It's bad. I know more about their numbers, how much they're worth, than what their names are. I'm like, "oh, that $10,000 grant? Yeah, I know about that one." [laughs]

JOE MANGINO: [laughs[ Yep, yeah, so we got that grant, too. So, yeah, we're gonna raise, we just wanted to get everything done, move in, settle, and then we'll lift the house up. Yeah.

BRITTANY LE STRANGE: Changes to your daily life?

JOE MANGINO: Yeah. I'm fitting in a lot of volunteer stuff. It just, it doesn't end. We're not- I'm not physically out as much anymore, you know, gutting and building and all that, but the phones lines are active, we're still helping people. We still have a trailer that has supplies. And now it's kind of settled to, we have a lot of people that returned to their homes, not because they wanted to but because they had to. They lost their temporary housing. And so 35:00we're trying to make those homes as comfortable for them as we can, so it's been a lot of, oh somebody's donating a stove and we'll run the stove down to there. Or, I've been working with Jetty Waves for Water a lot, too, that's the other group I work with. And actually right now, my wife and Anne Comb are dropping off a $5,000 check to a lady here in Little Egg Harbor, and I talked to the people at Ocean Community Church, and they have a working group that's in town from Michigan, and they're gonna go over there and do that work, and Jetty gave her a check for five grand to buy some supplies and all that, so-

BRITTANY LE STRANGE: it's amazing.

JOE MANGINO: Yeah, we're constantly doing things.

BRITTANY LE STRANGE: So, with all this, how has it changed your outlook on the community?

JOE MANGINO: You know, you moved to this town because we liked it, great people and everything. And just, what we've been through and everybody who stepped up, you know, I love it. It's great. All the people we've met. There are people in town who I knew, I saw them, and they would say, "oh, that's so-and-so, I know 36:00them." Now those people are, like, my best friends. You know, we're in trouble, I know who to call, and just from top to bottom, from town hall down to, you know, the guy down the street. Everybody is just top notch. The way this town pulled together was amazing.

BRITTANY LE STRANGE: How has it changed your outlook on the world and the United Sates as a whole?

JOE MANGINO: I don't know if it has. I know there's a lot more good people around, and to me, I take it as a challenge, and I took it as a challenge, to be as good as those people were. Those people that gave their time and drove here, you know, they kind of inspired me to do what they do. I think it's awesome that they put themselves second and put strangers -- total strangers -- first and make that commitment. And going forward, that's what we're going to do.

BRITTANY LE STRANGE: Do you believe the storm affected the 2012 presidential election at all?

JOE MANGINO: No, I don't think it did. [laughs] I don't think- no matter what 37:00happened I thought-

BRITTANY LE STRANGE: That was gonna be the outcome?

JOE MANGINO: The outcome was what it was.

BRITTANY LE STRANGE: Do you believe it'll affect the 2013 governor election?

JOE MANGINO: Minimally. I think he had it wrapped up. They- the other side didn't put a, in my opinion, a viable candidate, an opponent for him, so unless he had totally screwed up the Sandy relief, I thought he was getting back in, and he did more than enough. I think he's good to go.

BRITTANY LE STRANGE: Obviously your children are old enough to remember this, but what would you tell your grandchildren down the line?

JOE MANGINO: It's funny because I think there's enough stuff out there now that they're gonna be able to read stories on what their grandfather or grandmother did to help out. I hope that my kids learned the lesson to get involved and help people out when, you know, when you get knocked down, get up and bring some 38:00other people with you. So, I think my kids learned that. They lost a lot of stuff. Hopefully they learned- because I know, my one daughter did -- that stuff is just stuff, it's not important. The friendships we made here are important. The community coming together is important. You know? Stuff like that. All the stuff that we threw out to the curb was pretty much meaningless. Stoves? Who cars? Microwaves? Who cares? You know, it got to us when we're carrying out someone's photographs, somebody's wedding dress, things like that? Yeah, that got to you, but I kept telling people, it's only stuff. You know, simplify, and that's what we've done. And in a way it was a blessing because we had a lot of clutter, we had a lot of junk that we didn't need, and we didn't get rid of. That forced us to get rid of it, and you look, and you're like, now you see what's important. Those photo albums are important. I don't care about the couch. I really don't, and we don't need all that other junk.


BRITTANY LE STRANGE: if you wanted to give a message about the storm, what would it be?

JOE MANGINO: Always be on your toes, because there's gonna be another one coming, so prepare. And by being prepared, I don't just mean buying batteries for your flashlight. Prepare your house. If you can elevate your home now, do it. Do all the things you need to do to get ready for the next storm, and don't just get yourself ready. Check in on everybody else. Check your neighbors, make sure they're ready to go. Just have your plans and be ready.

BRITTANY LE STRANGE: What do you think the legacy of the storm will be?

JOE MANGINO: I'm hoping it's going to be how community- about everybody coming together, about the values, about [pause] just about being good neighbors. To me, it's as simple as that, just being- the good people rose to the top, and you know who they are. You know, I've definitely seen a change in the leadership. 40:00People were frustrated with the way certain things went down, and kind of the way the old guard ran things, and now there's this new group of people that just kind of took the bull by the horns, and they're running with it. And now they're running for town councils, now they're involved with stuff like this, to where before, maybe they went to a meeting, maybe they bitched to their friends, but they didn't do anything. People are getting involved. They're saying, we don't want to same thing to happen again. Let's be progressive. Now's the time. In a way, Sandy kind of wiped the slate clean, so you have a chance to do it and to do it right, so let's do it right.

BRITTANY LE STRANGE: And did I miss anything that I should have asked? Anything about the storm or START or anything?

JOE MANGINO: I don't know. What about START? [Pause] I can't think. I think we covered it all. There's so much about START. I could talk about it for weeks. 41:00The stories that we have, the things that we have been through. It was intense. There's this one lady- we went to her hours, and her house was destroyed. A huge hole. Three holes facing out to the bay, and we show up and she was just frazzled. She didn't know what to do. And a contractor shows up, he was going to charge her, I think it was $5,000 to board up the holes, because we had that nor'easter coming.


JOE MANGINO: You know, the storms coming, it's gonna get in, blah blah blah. I had this one volunteer, she must have been 4' 10", 75 pounds, just a tiny little lady. And she walked in on it, she was like, "what?" She practically picked the guy up and threw him out of the house [BRITTANY LE STRANGE laughs] She just went ballistic on him. And she's like, "you're crazy." So, what we did, we came in with three pieces of plywood for zero dollars, and, you know, did that for her. And then I returned, and that woman is still there. Here, she's getting- a lady 42:00and her husband, she's on the phone, she's getting them a cab ride to a hotel in Atlantic City, packing up a box of food, and all this, like, in a matter of minutes. She had that whole situation under control and got this family taken care, and that's the kind of stuff we went through. It was like, almost overnight, we became experts on demolition, mold remediation, insurance, adjusters, you know, you name it, it was like, overnight we all became experts on how to handle this. And we would walk into these situations- and psychologists, because we would walk into these homes, and there were people, they just didn't know- they were shell-shocked. They didn't know what to do. And I can't storm in there with 20 people and gut their house. That's just gonna freak them out anymore. So, we even came up with little systems and we're like, find something that's of personal value to them. Get that to them. Let them hold it, let them grasp it. And then we had one person that would just walk them through, say, here's what you need to do. The first thing a lot of people would say, "well, the insurance company said not to do anything." And that would set me off. I said, "well, they're wrong. Here's what you need to do. You need to 43:00cut your sheetrock out to this level, you kneed to do this, you need to get this out," I said," take a picture." We had people that would stand there with cameras and take pictures as everything was coming out. I says, "as long as you have pictures of everything and we'll set it on the pile, the insurance company can't say anything." I say," that's what they want you to do. The problem now is that the area's being flooded with all these insurance guys, telling people different things." I said," what's going to happen is, if you don't do anything, the insurance company could deny your claim because they say you didn't take adequate measure to save your property." And most of the time that worked and people would believe us and we could het in there. And when we're all done, two, three hours later, and these people pull out, all of a sudden, these people are like, you just see the relief on their faces, like, "we don't know how we would have done it." Because a lot of people would say, "oh, we'll take care of it , oh we'll do this." And I'll say, "you're gonna get that freezer out, your gonna get the couch out, you're gonna rip up your carpets." She said, "well…" I say, 44:00"I've got 20 guys right outside now ready to do it." Boom, in three, four hours, we're done, and she's like, "I'm glad you came. I'm so glad you came." She's like, "we don't know how we would do it." I'm like, "that's what we're here for. Tell your neighbors. Come to the community center. We've got dinners. Come eat. Do this, do that." It's a shame. I mean, my poor neighbor right now, I was just talking to her husband, and she's still suffering from post-traumatic stress. They just got their paperwork for one of the grants and she can't even look at it. Everything just- they stayed through the storm and I saw her the next morning and she was. So, yeah.


JOE MANGINO: It's quite an emotional journey we've been on, and some of us, you know, I've been watching the landfall movie, and we're in it a decent amount, and every time I see certain things, it just- you choke up. It's hard to believe it's nine, ten months ago. Some of it, when you see that scene, I almost can smell that marsh again, and the wet gloves, and the mask. It was nuts. [Laughs] 45:00I'm glad it's done.

BRITTANY LE STRANGE: For most people. It's still going for some.



JOE MANGINO: I think I'm good.

BRITTANY LE STRANGE: Alright, then that's good. Thank you.


0:00 - Interview introduction

Play segmentSegment link

Partial Transcript:This is Brittany Le Strange, interviewing Joe Mangino on July 18, 2013 at three pm at Tuckerton Seaport Museum.

Segment Synopsis: An introduction to the interview with Joe Mangino.



0:11 - Brief biography

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Partial Transcript:And how old are you, Mr. Mangino?

Segment Synopsis: Mangino describes his occupation and who makes up his family. He also describes his community in Beach Haven West and why he likes living there.

Keywords: Area; Beach; Beach Haven West; Business; Cedar Bonnet Island; Coast; Community; Crime; Daughters; Ethnicity; Family; House; Hurricane Sandy; Involved; Kids; Lagoons; Lived; Long Beach Island; Moved; Neighborhood; New Jersey; Ocean County; Power; Sandy; Schools; Shore; Stafford Township; Street; Teacher; Town; Water


GPS: Cedar Bonnet Island (Stafford Township, Nj.)
Map Coordinates: 39.654657, -74.188433

3:00 - First word of the storm / first thoughts

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Partial Transcript:When did you first hear the storm was coming?

Segment Synopsis: Being that Mangino is a surfer, he tells about how aware him and his family were of Hurricane Sandy's arrival. Mangino also talks about how him and his family were quite prepared before Sandy hit.

Keywords: Adequate warning; Availability; Batteries; Business; Caribbean islands; Coast; Damage; Evacuate; Family; First thoughts; Friends; Garage; Gas lines; Governor; Hit; Home; House; Hurricane Irene; Hurricane Sandy; Irene; Islands; Neighbors; Panicking; Prepare; Prepared; Sandy; Storm; Street; Supplies; Warnings; Water; Work


5:26 - Day of the storm

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Partial Transcript:Take me through the day of the storm.

Segment Synopsis: Mangino describes the day of the storm in which he was staying with a friend. He also discusses losing a second job because all of his equipment was under four feet of water in his garage.

Keywords: Beach; Before the storm; Destroyed; Friends; Garage; Help; House; Islands; Job; Kids; Lost; Moved; Night; Power; School; Signs; State; Storm; Teacher; Volunteers; Water; Window; Winds; Work


7:40 - First day after the storm

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Partial Transcript:That first day after the storm, how did you get your information with all the cell phones being down and everything?

Segment Synopsis: Mangino describes the feeling of not being able to sleep the night of the storm. He also discusses first seeing his house after Hurricane Sandy had struck.

Keywords: Debris; Doors; Evacuate; Flood; Friends; Garage; Gut; House; Immediate; Mess; Neighbors; Night; Phone; Recede; Sleep; Storm; Street; Tide; Water


10:40 - Damages / coping after the storm

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Partial Transcript:Um, let's see. How would you say, scale of one to ten, how bad were your damages?

Segment Synopsis: Mangino discusses the amazing group who helped him gut his house and let him and his family stay with them until they got back on their feet. He also describes the battle that took place to get help from his insurance company. Mangino discloses that he was a part of a community center which helped others gut out their homes.

Keywords: After the storm; Bedrooms; Community; Cope; Damages; Day-to-day; Election; FEMA; Floors; Food; Friends; Garage; Heat; Help; Home; House; Houses; Insurance companies; Involved; Loss; Lost; Lucky; Money; Morning; Mortgage; Moved; Necessities; Neighborhood; Pipes; Rebuild; Residents; Respond; Running water; Safety; Street; Supplies; Support; Teacher; Town; Trash; Volunteer; Work


15:42 - START

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Partial Transcript:About how many hours of volunteering?

Segment Synopsis: Mangino describes how Mike and himself got a community volunteering program together in which the whole town would come to them to bring supplies and food for those in need. He also describes that the flag his wife and one of her co-worker made for the organization and how much it symbolized the group.

Keywords: Area; Cell phones; Fences; Fire; Flooding; House; Organize; Panicking; Phone; Pictures; Residents; Storm; Supplies; Survived; Teacher; Town; Volunteer; Volunteers; Work


18:23 - Response of the government, FEMA, and more / trash pickup / looting

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Partial Transcript:It's amazing. How did you feel about the response of government and organizations, FEMA, basically, everything?

Segment Synopsis: Mangino discloses how FEMA and Red Cross would send those in need to his organization for help. He also describes how the trash pickup went and how looters were coming around his neighborhood.

Keywords: Angry; Area; Cops; Debris; FEMA; Fire; Help; Looters; National Guard; Neighbors; Normal; Organization; Police; Progress; Public works; Red Cross; Residents; Response; Street; Supplies; Town; Trash; Volunteers


21:51 - The state's preparedness

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Partial Transcript:Okay. Do you believe New Jersey prepared adequately?

Segment Synopsis: Mangino believes that New Jersey had adequate warning before Hurricane Sandy hit. He also discloses that he is raising his house and what he believes could have been done better in terms of preventing all the damage.

Keywords: Area; Dunes; Flood; Governor; Hit; Home; House; Houses; Hurricane Sandy; Lagoons; Long Beach Island; New Jersey; Ortley Beach; Police; Preparation; Prepared; Prepared adequately; President; Red Cross; Residents; Respond; Sandy; State; Storm; Street; Supplies; Warning; Water


GPS: Ortley Beach (Seaside Heights, Nj.)
Map Coordinates: 39.956012, -74.079058

25:01 - Freak Occurrence / opinion of the governor and president

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Partial Transcript:Do you believe it was just a freak occurrence, or have anything to do with environmental changes?

Segment Synopsis: Manino describes how the governor's office was so great to him and his organization after Hurricane Sandy. He also states that he appreciates the work both President Obama and Governor Christie did together.

Keywords: Accurate; Area; Asbury Park; Boardwalks; Businesses; Christie; Community; Coverage; Destroyed; Donated; Environment; Flood; Freak occurrence; Global warming; Governor; Helped; Hit; House; Hurricane Irene; Hurricane Sandy; Irene; Jersey shore; Long Beach Island; Media; Money; Obama; Pictures; Rebuild; Recovery; Sandy; Seaside Heights; Severe; Stores; Stories; Storm; Teacher; Work


28:44 - Changes on outlooks in the community

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Partial Transcript:In comparisons to other storms you've experienced and other storms the United States has experienced that you've seen, like on the news and everything, how do you believe the response was in comparison?

Segment Synopsis: Mangino states that he would rather start another organization if another disaster occurs rather than count on any big government groups. He discusses how the storm has caused him to be more involved.

Keywords: Beach; Car; Changed; Community; Destroy; Disaster; Environment; Expense; Family; Help; Hurricane Katrina; Hurricane Sandy; Islands; Katrina; News; Oklahoma; Outlook; Protected; Response; Sandy; Storm; Supplies; Tornadoes; Volunteer


32:37 - Returning to normal / effect of the storm on the elections

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Partial Transcript:Have things returned to semi-normal, or not quite yet?

Segment Synopsis: Mangino discusses how awesome he thinks it is that people who are complete strangers can help others. He also believes that the storm did not impact the presidential campaign nor did it effect the governor election.

Keywords: 2012 election; 2013 election; Building; Community; Daily life; Donating; Friends; Governor; Gut; Home; House; Lost; Mess; Normal; Outlook; Phones; Plans; Presidential campaign; Property; Recovery; Sandy relief program; Street; Supplies; Town; Volunteer; Water; Window; Work; World; Yard


37:35 - Legacy of the storm

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Partial Transcript:Obviously your children are old enough to remember this, but what would you tell your grandchildren down the line?

Segment Synopsis: Mangino hopes that his descendants learn from what he did for his community. He also warns that those facing an oncoming storm like Hurricane Sandy should prepare themselves and their community.

Keywords: Batteries; Children; Community; Contractor; Contractors; Daughters; Destroyed; Elevate; Friends; Help; Home; House; Involved; Kids; Legacy; Message; Neighbors; Plans; Prepare; Prepared; Sandy; Stories; Storm; Town


40:42 - Last words

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Partial Transcript:And did I miss anything that I should have asked? Anything about the storm or START or anything?

Segment Synopsis: Mangino tells a story of a woman who needed help to fix her house and who him and his team ended up helping. He also discloses that it's been an emotional journey and that he still gets emotional when he sees things relating to the storm.

Keywords: Adequate; Adjusters; Atlantic City; Community; Contractor; Destroyed; Dinner; Family; Flooded; Food; Gut; Home; House; Insurance; Insurance company; Morning; Neighbors; Paperwork; Phone; Pictures; Property; Stories; Storm; Volunteer


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