Hurricane Sandy caused immense damage to New Jersey’s barrier islands, but some of the islands' houses survived – only to now risk destruction from an equally damaging disaster: exposure to harsh winter weather temperatures that could destroy them.

Thousands of Barrier Island residents -- who evacuated the area for what they thought would be just three days -- are now being told they may not be able to return for six to eight months, leaving their unsecured homes vulnerable to the winter months. Freezing temperatures and looming storms could cause undrained pipes to explode in the walls when they freeze – thereby destroying the very houses that were spared by the hurricane. Meanwhile, residents report that officials claim it's not safe to enter the area, but videos have surfaced online showing officials touring the area on heated buses.

That’s why Emily Striech, a Jersey Shore native whose brother Skyler lives in Lavallette, a town on one of the barrier islands, just launched a petition pleading with the NJ Department of Emergency Management to let island residents secure their belongings, assess damage to their homes, and prepare their houses for winter.

Here’s the link:

As Emily’s brother Skyler said, "Just please, let my contracted plumber in. We survived Hurricane Sandy and now are going to lose our family home when the frozen pipes burst." (Many frantic posts from other barrier island residents here: