Sea Bright, NJ – Aftermath of Sandy

I realize that, more than 2 weeks after Hurricane Sandy, many of us not directly affected have returned to normalcy.  I was really hesitating whether or not to post these photos, but I feel I must.  Sea Bright is a shore community that is near and dear to my heart.  I walk its beaches year round and during any given week, I might be there 4 or 5 times to photograph.  I’ve been doing this since we moved here 13 years ago, and my husband and I visited these same beaches since high school.  I won’t tell you what year that was.

 

All access roads into Sea Bright have been closed to everyone since the hurricane hit.  Residents were allowed in last week if they showed identification and even then, only during certain hours.  Yesterday, the town reopened to the public.  I thought about not going.  I really did.  But how could I not?  That town is my ‘home’ away from home.  Those beaches are my ‘church’, where I go to sort things out and capture nature’s beauty.  How could I not go?  I needed to see how badly it was hit.  I was sure it couldn’t be as bad as I had heard.  I was wrong.

 

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The mounds of debris in the Sea Bright beach parking lot are almost 2 stories high.  There are Army tents filled with tired, resting soldiers.  Every other house was silently removing the contents of their lives and placing them into garbage heaps on the sidewalk.  The local watering hole, Donovan’s Reef, was in shambles.  The boardwalk upon which we stroll was ripped off its foundation and carried away.  I couldn’t get onto my regular beach because it is currently holding the tons of sand that was removed from across the town and there are manmade ‘dunes’ 20 feet high.  When I first got out of the truck, I couldn’t breathe.  And then I sobbed.  I climbed onto the sea wall and walked south.  Houses were ripped open by the ocean revealing their contents for all to see.  The insides of the homes revealed via missing walls looked like a giant person had picked them up, shook them like a snow globe and then threw them down to the ground.  The side roads are virtually impassable due to the sheer amount of debris outside of homes.  I went past one house that was being cleaned out by contractors.  It appeared that they had found several family photographs and they were meticulously laying them out in a protected area to dry.  There were rows and rows of flood ravaged photographs and I hope they will be savable.  It will certainly be many years before that community regains their sense of ‘normalcy’.

 

I guess I felt I needed to post these photos because the further inland you move from these devastated areas, the less ‘real’ this damage seems.  We still have our homes.  We are back to work.  Our kids are back in their own schools where they belong.  We come home at night to, well, our homes.  What about all of the people who no longer HAVE homes?  The ones who just want to ‘go home’ and can’t??  The ones who are trying desperately to provide normalcy for their children who are now attending a different school while they are living somewhere other than their ‘home’?   It will be months for contractors to clear all of the wreckage from the town and months more to demolish the homes that are not savable and months more to start to rebuild.  Let’s not forget that these images are from THIS state, THIS county.  Only a couple of towns over from some of us.  WE are okay, but these people are FAR from okay.

 

So what can we do?  I found this on the Sea Bright township website and plan on finding out if I can help in any way:

Volunteer “Work Request” forms are available at the Borough Hall. If you would like to volunteer your time in the Borough or if you are a resident and need to request help from a volunteer, please come to the Borough Hall at 1167 Ocean Avenue and complete one of the request forms that are available.

 

Many people in the community have been tirelessly volunteering their time and donating goods since the day after the storm.  GOD BLESS EVERY ONE OF THEM!!  God Bless all of the out of state workers who left their families for weeks to drive hours to a state that is not their own to help.  Let’s keep it up and focus on REBUILDING.  We are Jersey Strong… and we WILL rebuild.

 

I apologize to those who feel my blog posts have been too ‘serious’ of late and filled with such horrible photos.  I get it.  People want and need to move on.  Since this town just reopened, I felt I had to share what I saw because I knew that no many people had yet seen the effects of the storm on this town beloved by many of us here.  I promise, I do have happy, beautiful and fun photographs to share with you soon!!  Thanks for taking the time to read this post.

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