KEANSBURG, N.J. (AP) - Isabel Newson found her little slice of the American dream in a cottage near the beach in this blue-collar Raritan Bay community.
Unfortunately, Superstorm Sandy found it, too.
The storm surge breached Keansburg's dunes and pushed 4 feet of water into Newson's home, causing damage she's still dealing with 16 months later.
"They were not strong enough to hold back Sandy," she said of the dunes. "Sandy engulfed our American dream. It destroyed my small little cottage and my entire neighborhood. It was like walking into a war zone. It was something I had only seen on TV."
Work to repair Keansburg's beaches should begin in the next week, federal officials said Monday. Projects by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will include a 120-foot wide beach and a 15 ½-foot tall dune.
The work is part of a massive beach restoration effort along most of the state's 127-mile coastline. The work is completely federally funded and designed to restore damaged beaches to better shape than they were in before the 2012 storm.
"This is all protective," said U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. "There's still a lot of naysayers who say we shouldn't do this work. I disagree with them because it is protective."
Col. Paul Owen, commander of the Army Corps New York district office, said the Keansburg work should mostly be completed before Memorial Day.
In Monmouth County, work is underway along much of the coast between Sandy Hook and the Manasquan Inlet. Work on shore towns between Belmar and Manasquan should be done by the end of April, said Anthony Ciorra, an Army Corps official.
Work is also underway on the northern section of Long Branch, and should be completed by mid-May.
Another contract covering the towns between Asbury park and Avon should be finished before Memorial Day, Ciorra said.
This fall, beach work between Elberon, which is the southern section of Long Branch, and Loch Arbour, just north of Asbury Park, will begin, assuming private property owners allow access to their land.
A contract for work in the port Monmouth section of Middletown should be awarded in late April or early May.
All told, the Monmouth County work will cost about $146.2 million, according to state officials.
Other beach repair has recently been done or is planned for later this year in Ocean, Atlantic and Cape May counties.
In Ocean County, parts of Long Beach Island were replenished last year, including Surf City, the Brant Beach section of Long Beach Township and Harvey Cedars. Additional work on Long Beach Island should resume this year, though a start time has not been determined.
In Atlantic County, Atlantic City and Ventnor were recently finished.
In Cape May County, the northern part of Ocean City was done last year, and work in Cape May recently ended. The southern half of Ocean City is due to be replenished this year.
Wayne Parry can be reached at http://twitter.com/WayneParryAC