USATODAY TOMS RIVER, N.J. -- Black Friday shopping represented another stride in the march to normalcy for many residents of Jersey Shore communities recovering from the devastating impact of Superstorm Sandy.
Ocean County, N.J., was among the hardest-hit areas by the storm that took hundreds of lives and caused about $50 billion in damage along the East Coast. For Barbara Mancini, Black Friday provided a distraction after being forced from her Seaside Heights home. She has moved in with her daughter, Kim, her shopping companion at the Toys R Us at Ocean County Mall in Toms River.
Life since the storm "has been an ordeal, but you do what you have to and try to remain positive,'' Barbara Mancini said. "We came out to find (the video game)Skylander. It's been fun."
Mall Manager Peter Lembo said Black Friday turnout did not seem to be deterred by Sandy fallout.
"I don't know the long-term effects of Sandy, but we want to provide our shoppers a good area for them to eat, congregate and shop and meet other folks," he said. "People were lined up at 10 p.m. (Thursday), and we opened at midnight for our customers' convenience, and they responded.''
Not everything went according to plan. Macy's shoppers at the mall were disappointed to find the store closed because of a power outage.
Store manager Michael Hardy said his staff had been preparing to open when the power went off late Thursday night, causing the store to remain closed. He called the situation "very disappointing.''
Roger Castro, 15, was shopping at the mall with his mother, brother and sister. They were hoping for deals as they tried to replace belongings destroyed in the flooding of their Seaside Heights home.
"We came out to get some new clothes, television and furniture," Castro said. He said their family home is still standing but very messed up."
Matt Oberto, a sales manager at the Brick Township Best Buy, said the crowd was lined up around the building when the store opened at midnight. Many were looking for a hot-selling 40'' flat-screen TV, but computers and other items also moved quickly, he said.
For Richard and Kelly Hunsinger of Manchester, Black Friday was an opportunity to find some bargains.
"This is my first time coming out this early for Black Friday,'' Richard Hunsinger said. "It got pretty wild at the Walmart. I saw two ladies get into a fistfight tonight in the television line."