Devastation at the Jersey Shore
By Berit Ollestad
With all the pictures of roller coasters in the Atlantic and boardwalks turned into pick-up sticks, it’s hard to believe that anyone could forget the wrath of Hurricane Sandy.
But as we worked last month on our second relief truck for the Shore, one individual was overheard saying that Morristown is back to normal, “so I can’t imagine that the rest of the state can be all that bad.”
Drive down the Parkway, however, and you find dozens of communities are all but ghost towns. Our return to Seaside Heights last month was even more depressing than the first time we visited after the storm.
The difference? Gone was the clamor from volunteers exchanging war stories about the damage they incurred. The weather was worse, too. We were met with a grey, rainy day, not the blue skies of just a few weeks prior.
Seaside Heights Boardwalk and Casino Pier
Now it’s down to the dedicated few who decided to stay in town to regain some level of normalcy. Firefighters, police and municipal employees go to work day in and day out, doing what they can to get the town back where it needs to be for residents displaced from their homes for three months.
A quick look around, and you wonder how Seaside Heights and surrounding communities ever will return to the normal they once knew.
Residents from before the storm are spread across the state with no guarantee of returning home anytime soon. A glimmer of hope emerged in recent weeks, as the gradual restoration of natural gas began.
Several reasons could account for the soft turnout for our last relief effort. The cold, wet forecast may have dampened enthusiasm. Holiday shopping also provided competition. “Maybe people feel that they have already donated the first time around and that was good enough,” one resident speculated.
Out of sight, out of mind is human nature. We just didn’t expect it to happen so quickly. Media coverage is not as intense as it was immediately following Sandy. Yet the devastation at the Shore isn’t going away. Roads remain impassible, boats are in front yards, cars are stuck in sink-holes and houses are resting off their foundations.
Precedents teach us that the Shore will get rebuilt, and bounce back better than ever. In the meantime, let’s remember that residents continue to need our support to get back on their feet.
We managed to fill two-thirds of a 26-foot truck, with help from some familiar faces and a few new ones. Donated items included a surplus of cleaning supplies, canned goods, new blankets and bottled water. Everything was very much appreciated.
Please don’t forget about our friends down the Shore. They have a long road ahead of them and will continue to rely on us for our support. Many folks still are trying to work out housing and how they are going to eat. Many
Shore communities still lack electricity and are uninhabitable.
Photos by Berit Ollestad. Please click icon below for captions.