Seaside Heights NJ – Two Weeks After Sandy [PHOTOS]
Over the weekend, I had the opportunity to get a first hand look at the destruction that Superstorm Sandy had on Seaside Heights.
This weekend was the first time residents of Seaside Heights were able to go back to their homes and grab belongings and assess the damage. Residents had to go to the Ocean County Mall and get on school buses to shuttle them over the Seaside Heights Bridge where they had a few hours to go through their house.
I was fortunate to go along, and see Seaside Heights first hand.
As we drove into Seaside Heights the first thing you notice is the mountain of rubble in the free parking lot when you immediately enter Seaside. One of the construction guys told me it was destroyed homes from Ortley Beach.
You realized EXACTLY what you were in for.
When I got out of my car and the residents started getting off the buses, the first thing that stood out was how quiet the town was. You could actually hear the wings of birds flapping as they were flying around. Aside from the faint sounds of bulldozers, utility trucks, and police cars driving around, it was very calm. Very eerie actually.
I got to walking around, and it is amazing the amount of work that has been done. The majority of the streets were clean. There are still a bunch that they haven’t finished cleaning, but it’s just a matter of days before they are done. You could see the piles of sand off in the distance, but the clean up crews have done an excellent job getting the streets passable. Hats off to all the construction guys and especially to the cops that are keeping the town safe
I watched the residents enter their homes. Some people were in tears. Most just got down to business cleaning and discarding anything that was destroyed from the surge of water.
I started to feel a sense of sadness. This is our town that has been reduced to people collecting what they can in 2 suitcases, and leaving until the next time the town allows them to come back.
No longer did I see the buzz of people walking on the boardwalk and see the lights of the arcades, bars, and stores that would normally stay open all year round. It was sad. Our little beach town has been shut down for the foreseeable future.
Even though we are approaching winter, it is a place that I still would go to on a regular basis just to relax, and get my mind off things. It was a place of great solace for me. And now it’s no longer.
As I continued to walk around I notice the homes that have been damaged. Thinking about the sheer power of the Atlantic Ocean that took parking meters and ripped them off their concrete slabs. The sink holes that have been created and just the overall destruction. It was like a nightmare that wouldn’t end.
But what stuck with me was that certain blocks, you would never know anything happened. The boulevard was the cleanest I have ever seen it. And it was like a ghost town. No traffic lights, no cars. Nothing. Just kind of creepy. Like a Twilight Zone episode where time had just stopped.
Then I made my way to the boardwalk. Well at least to where the boardwalk was once was in some places.
The boardwalk in parts is buckled. In some spots it looks like rolling waves. Some parts looked o.k. There is no rhyme or reason why some parts did better than others. Crews were in the process of tearing it down starting from the North end. Word is the entire boardwalk will have to be rebuilt.
I ran into a couple of guys from Suffolk Construction. Scott, Tony, and Bobby running the heavy machinery. Bulldozing sand into tremendous piles on the beach. They were pretty upbeat, and understood the task at hand but said “We are gonna be here for a long while”
As I left them I ran into the owner of Henna Tattoos on the boardwalk. Umit Zekecoglio who has been on the boardwalk for 15 years told me, he is just gonna save what he can now, and we’ll take it from there. You could see the loss in his eyes as he had to pick up the pieces of business that was destroyed from the storm, and then from looters. I got to talk to one of his employees Elis, who was going through the store and debris. She seemed speechless. Kind of numb. She was kind enough to give me one last souvenir.
I continued my journey. Just checking out all the places that I know and love in Seaside Heights. Walking up and down the streets of Seaside. When all was said and done, I realized I was walking around for 2 and half hours!
Finally it was time for me to go. I was overwhelmed by another sense of sadness.The reality hit me that I don’t know when I would be able to return to the town that I love so much.
I feel pretty strongly that the Governor will hold true to his word and rebuild Seaside Heights and the Jersey Shore. He has too. It’s too important to New Jersey not too.Just who knows how long it will take.
With a heavy heart, I said goodbye to Seaside Heights, but even though she is a bit battered and bruised, the scars will eventually heal, and I told her that we will be back!
Restore the Shore!
Here are pictures from my day in Seaside Heights.