New Jersey Takes a Direct Hit

The shocking images of devastation from the beach towns that suffered the most.
3:00 | 10/30/12

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Transcript for New Jersey Takes a Direct Hit
Abc's david kerley takes us across the path of the storm explaining why. Reporter: You are about to see a triple teardown of trees. Oh, my god. Oh, my god. 16-year-old john taping it from his window in montauk, new york. First a neighbor's tree. Oh, my god. Reporter: Then a tree snaps in their front yard. Oh. Oh. A car -- oh, my god. Reporter: And if that wasn't enough, one more. Oh. I got that on film. Reporter: And maybe there is no clearer example of this, how softened soil cannot hold these big trees. Watch the earth start to heave. Uh-oh. Reporter: Matthew weinshrider in huntington, new york, knew there was nothing he could do but watch and tape that big tree going down. Dramatic but these trees have also proven deadly. This is north salem, new york, where two boys were playing and watching tv in the family room when this 100-foot oak slammed into the home. A scene repeated too many times across country. These are some of our viewers' pictures, trees falling on houses, trees across roads and pulling down plenty of power lines. In delaware, today we watched doug hudson and his crew working to get the power back on. Trees and wires don't go together? For the most part, absolutely, correct. They don't go together at all. Reporter: Falling trees really one of the biggest killers in storms and could be the biggest killer in sandy. Take a look at these. These are the roots of a tree here. What happened in sandy, you get four, five, six inches of rain and a lot of wind. All that rain soaks the earth and make it soft then the wind is able to take this tree and blow it down. Look at all this root bulb and earth and soil when the tree fell down. Such a big problem that today the mayor of new york city said we're shutting down central park. They wanted to check all the trees there, as well, to make sure the soil hasn't softened and trees wouldn't fall on tourists so they weren't allowed in the park today. Chris? David, as you know, better to be safe than sorry. There's still a lot of wind, be safe, my friend. We'll check in now with abc's meteorologist ginger zee. She has been watching every step of sandy since the beginning. Ginger. Including this latest step, chris, and this latest step has a big mess behind me. It just looks like a pile of wood splintered and broken but let me point it out to you. This is that historic boardwalk in atlantic city. You see the big beams here, the 2x4s LAYING ON TOP. Well, now it's just all splintered, the ocean, the power had pushed it here and actually a block or two into town there are piles of that boardwalk that we all know so well that lines up in front of the casino. Look at this too. Something else we found, absolutely everywhere, that sand. The ocean coming up and over and this pushes three, four blocks. Now, this is atlantic's boardwalk. It was broken up by all that water but it also broke up families too. Roads were rivers as the national guard moved in evacuating women, children and even pets from their home. I didn't want to leave my daughter christine. I didn't want to leave my daughter. I miss my kid. She doesn't even know I am here. Reporter: Here in a shelter in new jersey, this is tim moriarty, who woke up the morning after the storm concerned he'd lost more than his home. From my house, I had to go into a row boat and then a large truck to take me to shelter. Should have evacuated. Reporter: Today, as tim worried about how he would find his daer the drying skies revealed the true extent of the damage. Striking images like that roller coaster inundated in seaside to entire neighborhoods along the jersey shore which are now giant sandlots. E.0, my gosh. Look at that. Ooh. No wonder this is all ocean coming over here. The tide is coming up. The forecast was dead on. The biggest concern ishe potential for 4 to 10-foot coastal sturj. Reporter: And then some. That's the ocean back there. Huge winds crashing up and over. Do you see that? Even hours before the storm officially arrived, the prelude was ominous. Taxis flooded in hoboken, new jersey, the iconic atlantic city boardwalk destroyed. It wasn't like they hadn't been warned. Many from atlantic city and the barrier islands of new jersey did prepare for the worst. People were evacuated to shelters as a lockdown was put in place. At the moment now where evacuation is no longer possible and we're no longer able to come and rescue people. They're going to have to ride out the storm there. Reporter: Conditions went from bad to god awful. As the surge pushed inland, the apocalyptic images started rolling in along with those destructive waves. At 8:00 p.M. We found ourselves in the center of the storm. Unsettling and fleeting moment of tranquility. It gets eerily calm. This morning as we joined search and rescue teams, the flooding had still not abated. 5500 sought shelter in knowledge but we found marie marie and lauren cooke, among the thousands who disregarded governor christie's warning to evacuate and woke up this morning to a virtual river outside their home. They keep telling you to go, go, go. Where are you supposed to go? Last time we made a reservation and the only place to go is oklahoma and we'll have a tornado. My car has about eight inches of water in it. My heater went. My washer and dryer went. The air conditioner condenser went. Everything is ruined. Reporter: Was it worse than you expected? I did. The water damage I didn't expect, because my house never floods. For 20 years I've been there. Never. Reporter: Marie took the moment to impart a bit of motherly wisdom. These things are only things. You'll live through it. Believe me, honey, you'll live through it. Reporter: It was a time for parents and children to be together. And this evening, with the help of abc news and the brigantine fire department, tim is finally able to speak with his daughter christine. Dad, yeah, we're okay. I'm just worried about you. I'm fine. I'm fine. You're fine, okay. I love you and I -- we're going to see you soon, okay? A message that can't come clearly enough. The ones we love. Dan harris with the hurricane of social media when

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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