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Advanced Knee Pain Treatment in Laurence Harbor, NJ

Are you experiencing knee pain symptoms such as popping, clicking, bone-on-bone grinding, achiness, or sharp stabs? You're not alone in this journey. Knee pain affects nearly 25% of adults in the United States, causing discomfort, swelling, and chronic pain that can hinder everyday activities like childcare, walking, and exercise. Shockingly, recent statistics from The American Academy of Family Physicians indicate a 65% increase in diagnosed knee pain cases.

In a world where invasive surgeries and prescription painkillers are often the default solutions, it's crucial to explore the effective non-invasive options that are available. These alternative treatments provide relief without the associated risks of surgery.

Today, many doctors still recommend invasive surgeries and prescription painkillers rather than exploring non-invasive options. While those treatments are needed in some circumstances, there are alternative treatments available that can help you overcome knee pain without needing to go under the knife.

NJ Sports Spine and Wellness' advanced knee pain treatment in Laurence Harbor, NJ gives men and women suffering from knee pain hope. Instead of relying on surgery, our team of doctors and physical therapists use non-invasive, highly effective treatments to help heal prevalent conditions such as:

Service Areas

Arthritis

Soft tissue injury

ACL tears

MCL tears

Patella dislocation

Misalignment of the kneecap

Patella tendonitis

Jumper's knee

Osgood Schlatter's Disease

Knee

With the right treatment,

many people can reduce their pain and improve their function, allowing them to return to normal daily activities. Plus, by taking preventative measures and seeking prompt care from our team, it's possible to reduce your risk of developing chronic knee pain and other painful knee conditions. If you've been searching for a non-invasive way to eliminate knee pain and get back to an active life, your journey to recovery starts here.

Let's take a closer look at some of the knee pain treatments available at NJ Sports Spine and Wellness, which all serve as great alternatives to knee replacement surgery.

Physical Therapy:

Optimizing Musculoskeletal Health with Conservative Care

The field of Physical Therapy (PT) aims to rehabilitate individuals who have experienced injury, illness, or disability by restoring their mobility and function. Physical therapists cater to patients of various ages and capabilities, ranging from young athletes to senior citizens, in order to help them surpass physical limitations and improve their standard of living with advanced knee pain treatment in Laurence Harbor, NJ.

At NJ Sports Spine and Wellness, our physical therapy program was founded on a patient-centric philosophy, where physical therapists work closely with patients to get a deep understanding of their goals, preferences, and capabilities. In doing so, they can create a tailor-made treatment strategy to address their unique knee pain with the goal of avoiding a knee replacement. Treatment may involve exercises that are therapeutic in nature and can include:

  • Joint mobilizations
  • Soft tissue mobilization using cupping
  • Graston technique
  • Soft tissue massage
  • Stretching of associated muscle groups

Joint Mobilization for Knee Pain

This unique knee pain solution involves physical therapists using skilled manual therapy techniques to help improve your joint range of motion while simultaneously reducing your knee pain.

During joint mobilization, a physical therapist applies targeted pressures or forces to a joint in specific directions to improve its mobility. The intensity of the force applied can vary, and it is adjusted based on the patient's comfort level. Joint mobilization is generally pain-free.

STM

Soft Tissue Mobilization (STM)

Soft Tissue Mobilization is a manual therapy technique that involves stretching and applying deep pressure to rigid muscle tissue. This helps to relax muscle tension and move fluids that are trapped in the tissues that cause pain and inflammation. This effective form of physical therapy is often used as an advanced knee pain treatment in Laurence Harbor, NJ for treating knee strains, knee sprains, knee pain, and more.

Graston

The Graston Technique

The Graston Technique involves the use of handheld instruments to identify and break up scar tissue through specialized massage. During a Graston Technique session, physical therapists use convex and concave tools for cross-friction massage, which involves rubbing or brushing against the grain of the scar tissue. This process re-introduces small amounts of trauma to the affected area. In some cases, this process temporarily causes inflammation, which can actually boost the amount and rate of blood flow in the knee. This process helps initiate and promote the healing process so you can get back to a normal life.

Massage

Soft Tissue Massage

Soft tissue massage is a less intense form of massage than it's deep-tissue relative. Instead of focusing on slow and firm strokes to reach the deep layers of muscles and tissues, this massage technique uses a variety of pressures, depths, and durations. Soft tissue massage is helpful in alleviating different types of knee aches, pains, and injuries. Soft tissue massages can also help reduce stress, improve circulation, and promote relaxation.

Advanced Mechanics and Technology:

The Future of Knee Pain Therapy

While knee pain is a common symptom that affects millions of Americans every year, no two cases of knee pain are ever exactly alike. Some types of knee injuries require non-traditional solutions. At New Jersey Sports Spine and Wellness, we offer a range of treatments that leverage mechanics and technology to help patients recover from injuries while treating inflammation and pain as well as resolve the root cause of the pain.

AlterAlterG® Anti-Gravity Treadmill

The AlterG® Anti-Gravity Treadmill is equipped with NASA Differential Air Pressure (DAP) technology, which is a precise air calibration system that uses the user's actual body weight to enhance rehabilitation and training. By utilizing a pressurized air chamber, the AlterG allows patients and athletes to move without any pain or restrictions.

This advanced knee pain treatment in Laurence Harbor, NJ uniformly reduces gravitational load and body weight up to 80% in precise 1% increments. The results can be incredible, with patients reporting benefits such as:

  • Restoring and building of knee strength
  • Restored range of motion in the knee
  • Better balance
  • Improved knee function
  • More

What Makes the AlterG® Anti-Gravity Treadmill So Effective?

The AlterG® Anti-Gravity Treadmill can monitor various metrics such as speed, gait pattern, stride length, and weight distribution. With real-time feedback and video monitoring, your rehabilitation team can promptly and accurately identify issues and pain points or monitor your progress throughout your knee pain rehabilitation journey.

One of the key benefits of this cutting-edge equipment is that it replicates natural walking and movement patterns without the artificial feel that hydrotherapy or harnesses create. This makes it an excellent choice for faster recovery after knee injuries or surgeries, as it allows for early mobilization while also preserving strength. Furthermore, it is ideal for sports recovery as athletes can use it for physical conditioning maintenance.

Advanced Knee Pain Treatment Laurence Harbor, NJ
Advanced Knee Pain Treatment Laurence Harbor, NJ

Low-Level Laser Therapy

Our advanced treatment modalities for knee pain include laser therapy, which harnesses the revolutionary power of light through photobiomodulation (PBM). LiteCureâ„¢ low-level laser therapy is available for acute and chronic types of knee pain and can be hugely beneficial when coupled with physical therapy, occupational therapy, chiropractic care, and sports recovery care.

Understanding Photobiomodulation (PBM)

PBM is a medical treatment that harnesses the power of light to stimulate the body's natural healing abilities. The photons from the light penetrate deep into the tissue and interact with mitochondria, which results in a boost in energy production. This interaction sets off a biological chain reaction that increases cellular metabolism. Utilizing low-level light therapy has been shown to:

  • Alleviate knee pain
  • Speed up tissue healing
  • Promote overall health and wellness
  • Expedite knee pain injury recovery
Advanced Knee Pain Treatment Laurence Harbor, NJ

Exclusive Access to

Pain Management Professionals

At NJ Sports Spine & Wellness, we know that every patient requires a personalized approach to chronic knee pain and condition management. Sometimes, our patients need access to pain management professionals, who can offer relief in conjunction with physical therapy and other solutions like low-level laser therapy.

Two of the most common services we offer for pain management includes acupuncture which can assist in avoiding knee replacement surgery.

Acupuncture is a common treatment for knee pain that involves inserting thin needles into specific points in your knee. This ancient Chinese medicine has gained popularity in Western culture due to its effectiveness in treating various conditions with minimal side effects.

Acupuncture works by stimulating the nervous system to release various biochemicals, including endorphins and other neurotransmitters. The release of these chemicals helps to reduce inflammation, decrease pain perception, and improve overall blood circulation.

Multiple studies have shown that acupuncture can be effective in treating knee pain caused by a variety of conditions, including osteoarthritis and injuries related to physical activity like running. Acupuncture can also help reduce inflammation, improve muscle function, and decrease pain perception, making it a viable treatment on its own or as an addition to traditional treatment methods like physical therapy.

When undergoing acupuncture, a professional acupuncturist will insert thin needles into specific acupoints on the skin. These needles are left in place for roughly 20 to 30 minutes and may be gently stimulated for an enhanced effect. Patients might experience a slight tingle or warmth at the needle insertion site, but overall, acupuncture is considered a painless procedure.

Acupuncture has been a trusted and effective treatment option for thousands of years. The World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes acupuncture as a legitimate form of healthcare, and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has even funded research studies to explore its efficacy for a range of medical conditions. To learn more about acupuncture for knee pain, contact NJSSW today.

Advanced Knee Pain Treatment Laurence Harbor, NJ

Acupuncture

Acupuncture is a common treatment for knee pain that involves inserting thin needles into specific points in your knee. This ancient Chinese medicine has gained popularity in Western culture due to its effectiveness in treating various conditions with minimal side effects.

Acupuncture works by stimulating the nervous system to release various biochemicals, including endorphins and other neurotransmitters. The release of these chemicals helps to reduce inflammation, decrease pain perception, and improve overall blood circulation.

Multiple studies have shown that acupuncture can be effective in treating knee pain caused by a variety of conditions, including osteoarthritis and injuries related to physical activity like running. Acupuncture can also help reduce inflammation, improve muscle function, and decrease pain perception, making it a viable treatment on its own or as an addition to traditional treatment methods like physical therapy.

Advanced Knee Pain Treatment Laurence Harbor, NJ

What Happens During Acupuncture Therapy for Knee Pain?

When undergoing acupuncture, a professional acupuncturist will insert thin needles into specific acupoints on the skin. These needles are left in place for roughly 20 to 30 minutes and may be gently stimulated for an enhanced effect. Patients might experience a slight tingle or warmth at the needle insertion site, but overall, acupuncture is considered a painless procedure.

Advanced Knee Pain Treatment Laurence Harbor, NJ

Is Acupuncture Actually Effective for Knee Pain?

Acupuncture has been a trusted and effective treatment option for thousands of years. The World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes acupuncture as a legitimate form of healthcare, and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has even funded research studies to explore its efficacy for a range of medical conditions. To learn more about acupuncture for knee pain, contact NJSSW today.

Avoid Knee Replacements with Advanced Knee Pain Treatment in Laurence Harbor, NJ

Advanced Knee Pain Treatment Laurence Harbor, NJ

When it comes to knee pain therapies and treatments, getting a knee replacement should be last on your list. Why put your body through such trauma if you haven't tried other non-invasive treatment options? Whether you're an athlete trying to work through a knee injury or you're over 65 and are dealing with osteoarthritis, NJ Sports Spine and Wellness can help.

It all starts with an introductory consultation at our office in Matawan or Marlboro. During your first visit, we'll talk to you about your knee pain symptoms, the goals you have in mind, and the advanced knee pain treatments available to you at our practice. From there, it's only a matter of time before you get back to a healthy, active lifestyle.

Every day you wait can worsen your knee condition. Contact us today and let our team help get you on the road to recovery and life with painful knees.

Latest News in Laurence Harbor, NJ

Old Bridge takes first step in Laurence Harbor redevelopment

OLD BRIDGE – The Planning Board has agreed that 50 properties at the intersection of Route 35 and Laurence Parkway in the Laurence Harbor section be designated as a redevelopment area.The vote came after the Board assured residents that the township would not use its powers of eminent domain to acquire th...

OLD BRIDGE – The Planning Board has agreed that 50 properties at the intersection of Route 35 and Laurence Parkway in the Laurence Harbor section be designated as a redevelopment area.

The vote came after the Board assured residents that the township would not use its powers of eminent domain to acquire the properties.

"We will not be taking anybody's property," Township Planner Veena Sawant said. "That's not the township's policy. Every plan that has been written in the last 20 years has been just for redevelopment. There is no plan in place. This is a first, baby step. It's a long and lengthy process."

"If the municipality wanted to utilize eminent domain or condemnation for this or any of the other redevelopment, it has to do so right from the start," Planning Board attorney Joseph Sordillo said. "In this case, it can't happen. It just can't happen unless this whole process starts from the beginning all over again and everyone will be given notice of that fact."

The redevelopment designation does not include any recommendations for specific development. That will happen later in the drafting of a redevelopment plan by the Planning Board and Township Council with public input.

The properties in the redevelopment area include several single-family homes at least 70 years old, as well as the Laurence Harbor Post Office, Laurence Harbor First Aid Squad, Hoffman Pharmacy, Lisa Restaurant, Harbor Liquors, Krauszer's, Dunkin’, a vacant bank and a strip mall with a high vacancy.

The redevelopment study was prompted by underutilized and vacant parcels, vacant stores and the area’s proximity to the Laurence Harbor waterfront and community facilities.

More:Superfund cleanup stands beside Old Bridge’s new beachfront community center

More:$35M from federal infrastructure bill will fix waterways in Middlesex County

The area consists of 25 residential lots, 13 commercial lots, five public lots, one church, four vacant lots, and two other tax-exempt parcels.

In 2020, the Council authorized the Planning Board to undertake a study, Sawant said.

Sawant said she believes the residents living there will benefit from the designation, including the opportunity to apply for a short-term tax exemption.

The state's Five-Year Exemption and Abatement Law authorizes municipalities to grant short-term tax abatements and exemptions for home improvements, commercial and industrial improvements, and the improvement or conversion of multiple dwellings in redevelopment areas.

But, she said, the township is not going to force property owners to do anything.

In addition, she said, "just by the designation, your property value goes up and that has been historically true."

Two gas stations in the area are brownfield sites that need to be cleaned up, Sawant said, and the old post office building needs rehabilitation.

There also are a few homes with driveways forcing residents to back out onto Route 35. "It's a dangerous location," she said.

The area is bounded by Laurence Harbor Beach to the north, McKinley Avenue and Morningside Avenue to the east, Ravine Avenue and Sunset Avenue to the south and Lakeview Road and the Harbor Plaza strip mall to the west.

Several residents spoke at the meeting and expressed concerns about pedestrian safety and traffic.

Those concerns will be addressed in the drafting of the redevelopment plan, Sawant said.

Another resident said she heard a rumor that condos were coming. Sawant said she, too, heard the rumors.

"The administration, myself, we have not come across any concept, any developer who has approached us to do that," she said. "Those are rumors. There is no plan in place. Today the comments you're making are well received. When we work on the plan those comments will be very helpful to us. So your voice is definitely going to be heard, but when we write the redevelopment plan."

The owner of a vacant property behind Dunkin' said his property is "underutilized" and is something that can benefit from being in a redevelopment area.

"We certainly look forward to participating if this were to go forward," he said.

Email: sloyer@gannettnj.com

Susan Loyer covers Middlesex County and more for MyCentralJersey.com. To get unlimited access to her work, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.

Laurence Harbor Needs Firefighters, And These 2 Stepped Up

Laurence Harbor Fire Chief Brian Stitzel would like to highlight this local young man and woman who volunteer their time:Patch Staff|Updated Thu, Jan 4, 2024 at 1:45 pm ETLAURENCE HARBOR, NJ — Are you looking for a way to get involved in your community and really help people in the town where you live?The Laurence Harbor Fire Department needs volunteers now. Consider becoming a volunteer firefighter. There is almost no better or ...

Laurence Harbor Fire Chief Brian Stitzel would like to highlight this local young man and woman who volunteer their time:

Patch Staff

|Updated Thu, Jan 4, 2024 at 1:45 pm ET

LAURENCE HARBOR, NJ — Are you looking for a way to get involved in your community and really help people in the town where you live?

The Laurence Harbor Fire Department needs volunteers now. Consider becoming a volunteer firefighter. There is almost no better or stronger way to feel more connected to the town you grew up in.

Visit lhfd1.com to learn more and fill out an inquiry form.

Laurence Harbor Fire Chief Brian Stitzel said he would like to highlight this local young man and woman, Davion Fields and April Ivan, both 20, and tell their story so it will inspire more young men and women to volunteer.

Davion and April have not yet entered a burning building, but they've already made a difference, said the fire chief.

Find out what's happening in Matawan-Aberdeenwith free, real-time updates from Patch.

"I’m so proud of April and Davion and the contributions they are making," said Chief Stitzel. "They are valuable members of LHFD, and it’s been wonderful to see how much and how quickly they learn."

Davion has wanted to be a firefighter ever since he was a little boy playing with a Hess firetruck.

He saw the sign for volunteers out front of the firehouse, and making that call was the very first step in fulfilling a lifelong dream.

Football kept him busy in high school, then Davion left New Jersey to study kinesiology at the University of Lynchburg.

"Now I’m back home, and I’m finally doing it — I’m becoming a firefighter," he said.

Davion owns a local cleaning business, Time Two Shine, and plans to soon work in construction.

"I like to work hard, and I’m always looking for a new challenge every day," he said. "This makes me a better person, and it’s also really fun."

April may be new to firefighting, but she is not new to emergency response. She’s a volunteer EMT who first joined a local squad as a cadet at age 16.

"As an EMT, I started to realize what a difference I could make as a volunteer,” she said. She who studies biology/pre-med at Hofstra University. Some of the EMTs she trained with are firefighters and suggested she would love that, too.

"When I was in high school, I didn’t have time. But one day when I was home from college, I drove by the Laurence Harbor Fire Department and I thought, ‘You know what, I could do that, and I’m willing and able to, so why not?'" she remembered. "At the end of the day, all we have is other people. We have to help each other."

April's career goal is to become a trauma surgeon, and she's excited to use her EMT skills on fire calls.

A role for everyone – YOUR help is needed!

Laurence Harbor Fire Department volunteers have a wide variety of careers, skill sets and life experiences, which adds to the strength of the team, said Chief Stitzel.

No previous experience is needed to join, and training and gear are free to members. Members all support each other as they learn.

Why not make 2024 the year you make a difference in your life and the lives of others?

"Laurence Harbor firefighters go out of their way to teach new members and to make new members feel welcome," said April.

"If someone is thinking about becoming a volunteer firefighter – if they are willing to train and challenge themselves – they should do it,” said Davion. “You get to interact with our community and you will make new friends and connections at the fire department – really, you will gain family."

Di Ionno: Ghosts of industrial past keep Laurence Harbor from its beach

OLD BRIDGE TWP. — The Jersey Shore starts at Laurence Harbor, a section of Old Bridge Township. The Middlesex County hamlet is unmistakably a beach town; it sits on a bluff overlooking the Raritan Bay, with clear-day views of Sandy Hook, Long Island, and the expanse of ocean beyond.In the center is a large parking lot with a bathhouse pavilion to accommodate beachgoers. There’s a bait shop right there, pizza and ice cream a few ste...

OLD BRIDGE TWP. — The Jersey Shore starts at Laurence Harbor, a section of Old Bridge Township. The Middlesex County hamlet is unmistakably a beach town; it sits on a bluff overlooking the Raritan Bay, with clear-day views of Sandy Hook, Long Island, and the expanse of ocean beyond.

In the center is a large parking lot with a bathhouse pavilion to accommodate beachgoers. There’s a bait shop right there, pizza and ice cream a few steps away.

Shoreland Circle, the residential street that overlooks the boardwalk and dunes, is a mixed collection of old narrow bungalows, and those recently expanded and modernized. Except for the hill, it looks like a neighborhood in any beachfront town, from Manasquan to Long Beach Island.

But the parking lot is empty these days, and the bathhouse is closed. A lone port-a-potty is all that’s needed.

There is no endless summer in Laurence Harbor these days. Just endless frustration. And unanswered questions. And a long, high, black chain-link fence that keeps most of the beach closed.

In the spring of 2009, the federal Environmental Protection Agency closed most of Laurence Harbor’s beaches and put 1.3 miles of Middlesex County waterfront on its list of Superfund sites. Now another summer is here, and will go, before the beach reopens. And maybe another. And maybe another.

The problem is lead-laden slag, which was taken from the old National Lead industrial site in Sayreville, where Dutch Boy paint was made, and used to anchor jetties and bolster the seawall in the area.

The EPA has a "preferred remedy" for the site, but will not make it public until next month. After that, there will be a 30- to 45-day public hearing period, ending either around or after Labor Day. And after that, well, who knows?

"We can’t discuss the proposal until it is made public," said Elias Rodriguez, a spokesman for the EPA, who added no exact date in July has been decided. "At that point, we’ll put forth several proposals, including our preferred remedy. Any cleanup schedule is contingent on the remediation plan that is decided."

Most people in Laurence Harbor take it in stride. What else can they do?

"I got over being angry two years ago," said Donna Wilson, who was working on her elaborate garden on her property, which overlooks the shoreline.

She bought one of the shotgun shacks for $395,000 a few years back — "I didn’t buy the bungalow, I bought the beautiful corner lot, and the view," she said — and began renovating right away. But within a year, the fences and warning signs went up.

A bungalow two doors down is now on the market for $260,000.

"I don’t worry too much about that," she said. "Because I’m staying for good, and I know that someday, I hope anyway, the beaches will reopen."

In the three years since the beach was cordoned off, the word "slag" became part of the vernacular of the Middlesex County waterfront.

By definition, slag is "the vitreous mass left as a residue by the smelting of metallic ore."

In Middlesex, it is a vitreous mess left as the residue of heavy industry that once dominated the bayshore, then made worse by the decision 50 years ago to use the slag on the seawalls and jetties. The 2,500 feet of seawall in Laurence Harbor have shown elevated levels of lead, antimony, arsenic and copper.

The word "slag" is now synonymous with frustration.

"You wonder what the holdup is," said Dana Stovall, who watched as her son Jaydon Tortorello, 8, ran around the playground just a few yards from the fenced-off slag. "They put up the fence and that was that. Nobody’s cleaning it up."

Most of the slag on the Middlesex waterfront is in an industrial waste-product called kettle bottoms; the hardened gunk left over in the smelting process. The kettle bottoms are easy to spot. They anchor the jetty at Cheesequake Creek in the Morgan section of Sayreville, and were dumped among the granite boulders along the seawall. Unlike the natural rocks, the kettle bottoms are burnt-orange in color, and rusted or pockmarked with corrosion. They are dense and impossibly heavy.

The slag contamination stretches from the creek jetty to Cliffwood Beach, which, like Laurence Harbor, is a part of Old Bridge Township.

But there are places along the way where beaches are open, side by side with those closed. Part of the community frustration with the beach closing lies in what is still open. The fishing jetty at Cheesequake Creek is closed, but the adjacent beach, just yards away, is open.

"I’m trying to understand this contamination," said Peter Insalaco, who owns the bait shop and tackle shop at Laurence Harbor. "If there’s so much lead, why is the water safe here (the open beach) and not there (the closed)."

While most of the Laurence Harbor Beach is closed, the boardwalk, jetty, playground and walking path are open. So is the beach just a few feet from the closed section, where Nicole Oropallo waded in to put her kayak in the water.

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"It would be nice if they got it cleaned up," she said. "But on the other hand, it’s nice that it is so quiet. When nobody’s here, I can let my dogs run."

Insalaco said the presence of the fence is "killing business in the area."

He opened his shop, Tackle U.S., last year, after the previous owner went out of business two years before.

"I opened hoping the beach would reopen soon," he said.

In fact, the area was reopened for fishing.

"That’s what doesn’t make sense," he said. "How bad can it be? That fence has got to go. It’s keeping the community down."

For Stovall, when the fences come down, life will return to normal. She once lived in a bungalow on Shoreline Drive, the house where Jaydon’s father grew up.

"He swam in this water since he was a kid," she said. "So did Jaydon. He keeps asking, ‘When will we be able to go back in the water?’"

More Mark Di Ionno columns:

Check out 'Mark in the Morning,' an online-only column from Star-Ledger columnist Mark Di Ionno taking on the day's biggest issues in New Jersey and beyond. It appears weekday mornings on NJ.com.

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Couple Sells Beloved Laurence Harbor Home to the State

Old Bridge, NJ - Kathy and Drew Litchkowski planned on staying in their Laurence Harbor home for a long, long time.The small, one-story bungalow at 9 Cliffwood Way sits at the end of a quiet street. It overlooks Raritan Bay. They could walk to the beach at Old Bridge Waterfront Park.And then Sandy came.“My husband’s lived on that street his whole life; we’ve had storms before where the water came up. But it was nothing like Sandy,” Kathy told Patch. “When Sandy hit, the water came ov...

Old Bridge, NJ - Kathy and Drew Litchkowski planned on staying in their Laurence Harbor home for a long, long time.

The small, one-story bungalow at 9 Cliffwood Way sits at the end of a quiet street. It overlooks Raritan Bay. They could walk to the beach at Old Bridge Waterfront Park.

And then Sandy came.

“My husband’s lived on that street his whole life; we’ve had storms before where the water came up. But it was nothing like Sandy,” Kathy told Patch. “When Sandy hit, the water came over our windows. I would not wish (what happened) on my worst enemy.”

Raritan Bay flooded their street, their foundation and nearly came into their living room. On Oct. 29, 2012, the family fled, only to return later by canoe to salvage anything they could. The home and the property had been destroyed, and the Litchkowskis slowly realized they could never live there again. Even if they wanted to stay, they would have to tear down the property and rebuild from scratch. New state law mandated that all homes on their street be raised by at least 15 feet. The couple now lives in Aberdeen — but they were stuck with the Laurence Beach property.

Find out what's happening in Matawan-Aberdeenwith free, real-time updates from Patch.

This week, 9 Cliffwood Way became the first property in Old Bridge to be bought by the state Department of Environmental Protection as part of Blue Acres. Through Blue Acres, the DEP has bought similar distressed properties nearby in Woodbridge, East Brunswick and South River.

It’s money Kathy says she and her husband wouldn’t have been able to get otherwise.

“I truly am very thankful for the Blue Acres Program; without them, I don’t know what we would have done,” she said. “I don’t think we would have been able to sell the property.”

9 Cliffwood Way will be demolished and turned into open space, a DEP spokesman said. The aim of the Blue Acres buyback is to use state money to buy distressed properties and turn them into open space, which will absorb flood water and alleviate flooding when the next big storm hits. Environmental advocates praise the program, except for one problem: Blue Acres needs more cash, some say.

Federal funds for Blue Acres are running low, says Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. 9 Cliffwood Way was purchased using funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Tittel says there are many people in New Jersey like the Litchkowskis, who want to get bought out and are waiting for money. But they may not get it, he warns, unless Gov. Chris Christie appropriates more state funding to Blue Acres.

The federal government will match any state money Christie steers towards Blue Acres. A state DEP spokesman says Tittel is wrong, and there is still about $50 million left in the program.

So far the state has extended offers to 700 homeowners, and 534 homeowners have accepting the state’s offer. Closings have been completed on 412 properties, 293 of which have now been demolished.

In fact, the DEP extended the same offer to Kathy’s mother-in-law, who lives on the same street. The older woman is now just waiting to close, Kathy said.

“Her home was destroyed. Ever since Sandy hit, she hasn’t been able to stop crying for the past two years, really,” said Kathy. “But the people at Blue Acres, and at the DEP, were really, really helpful with all this.”

Laurence Harbor Fire Department Offers Insights on a Safe Thanksgiving

This post was contributed by a community member. The views expressed here are the author's own.Crime & SafetyEnjoy time with your loved ones and keep your family safe from an accidental fireThe Communication Solutions Group, Community ContributorThanksgiving is a time to gather together, but the holiday is als...

This post was contributed by a community member. The views expressed here are the author's own.

Crime & Safety

Enjoy time with your loved ones and keep your family safe from an accidental fire

The Communication Solutions Group, Community Contributor

Thanksgiving is a time to gather together, but the holiday is also the peak day for home cooking fires — with more than three times the daily average for such incidents, according to the National Fire Protection Association.

Just as you want to keep your family safe this Thanksgiving holiday, volunteer firefighters at Laurence Harbor Fire Department train to keep their families, friends, neighbors, and community members safe each and every day. During this Thanksgiving season of service, gratitude, and thankfulness, consider giving back to your community by joining Laurence Harbor Fire Department.On Thanksgiving, the kitchen is the heart of the home, and children love to be involved in holiday preparations. Safety in the kitchen is important, especially on Thanksgiving Day when there is a lot of activity and people at home.According to NFPA, unattended cooking was by far the leading contributing factor in cooking fires and fire deaths. Cooking causes half (49%) of all reported home fires and more than two of every five (42%) home fire injuries, and it is the second leading cause of home fire deaths.As you start preparing for your large family gathering and feast, Laurence Harbor Fire Department encourages all residents to follow a few simple safety tips so you can enjoy time with your loved ones and keep your family safe from an accidental fire:

Following these tips will not only help keep your family safe this Thanksgiving holiday but allow you the peace of mind to enjoy time with your loved ones during this season of gratitude.If you are considering giving back to your community, here are some of the benefits you’ll receive as a volunteer with Laurence Harbor:

“Being a volunteer firefighter has been a pretty good experience,” firefighter Tim Moley said. “It’s made me a better person and helped expand my skillset.”Laurence Harbor Fire Department has a great need for volunteers like YOU. The number of volunteer firefighters has significantly fallen nationwide over the past several decades.“We’re looking for ordinary citizens to come volunteer with and protect Laurence Harbor and Cliffwood Beach,” said Laurence Harbor Fire Department Chief Brian Stitzel. “It’s also highly rewarding to be able to make a difference in the community.”

To find out more about fire safety and how you can get involved in your community, please contact Laurence Harbor Fire Department. If you are interested in volunteering, please fill out an inquiry form at www.lhfd1.com.

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