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Evacuee in Haddonfield: ‘There Are a Lot of Ifs’

An Ocean City family is far from home—but already knows there is no house to go back to.

Chris Leonetti sat in Haddonfield Tuesday morning, her face a mixture of shock and resignation as she talked about losing her family’s home in Ocean City.

Leonetti and her children—Amanda, 16, and Andrew, 11—left during the evacuation on Sunday to take refuge with family in Haddonfield. Husband Paul stayed behind in at attempt to protect the family’s Bayland Drive home.

“Water was up to our second floor. There was nothing he could do,” Leonetti said quietly from Jersey Java. “The whole first floor is just ruined. Water was coming up through the floor. He stayed because he thought he could save things, but he had to watch as our house just flooded.”

Paul Leonetti is reporting back to the family, but almost nothing is good news. The entire street is under water. A neighbor’s boat parked in the driveway is now on top of the Jeep. The lot where the Leonettis parked their truck is flooded.

Paul and Chris Leonetti are originally from Haddonfield. The family has lived in Ocean City for 19 years and their home has never flooded. The reality of what they face is overwhelming.

“You think you plan well enough for something like this, but…” Leonetti trailed off. “We don’t know what we’re going back to. We don’t have a home. The schools may not open for awhile. What happens now? There are a lot of ifs.”

In the meantime, Leonetti and her children are staying with Paul’s mom, Marie, in Haddonfield. Marie also has a home on West 17th Street in Ocean City, and she fully expects it’s underwater as well. Everyone will hunker down in Haddonfield, for now. 

The kids know they’re not going home for good, even when they can get back to Ocean City, but Leonetti suspects the full magnitude of the loss hasn’t hit them yet. Now, though, they’re all waiting for Paul to get off of the island.

“I don’t know what to think. You spend your whole life going in a certain direction, then something like this happens,” Leonetti said. “Last week, we were looking at colleges for Amanda. Now, we have to find a place to live. We have new priorities now.”

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