Sea Bright, New Jersey
January 10, 2013
William and I were recently visiting Uncle Jeff and Aunt Peggy in their ocean front home in Sea Bright, New Jersey. We went up to Sea Bright for only one night’s stay so William could do a live audition the day after which incidentally went very well – he was selected to perform in the Olympic Challenge 2013 Winner’s Recital at Carnegie Hall in New York City, February 10, 2013.
Anyway, Sea Bright was hit pretty hard when Hurricane Sandy made landfall on the New Jersey coast on October 29, 2012. Sea Bright is on a northern New Jersey barrier island just south of Sandy Hook. One can see the Atlantic approaches to the New York Harbor from its shore. When Sandy hit, the barrier island was completely inundated with storm surge waters, either from the sea with the main surge breeching the seawall, or from the Shrewsbury River between the island and mainland. While only a few homes were completely destroyed, many others sustained massive damage from flooding on the ground level.
During our visit we noticed that virtually all businesses in town are still closed and much of the town is still uninhabitable with no power. Jeff and Peggy’s property, a four apartment home on the north side of the city, had extensive damage to the ground floor apartments but renovation work was nearing completion. Their second floor apartment that they maintain as a second home and vacation get-away, however, had power and heat so we were able to stay with them there.
It was sad to see the damage and the once beautiful beach with sand dunes and thick dune grass now transformed into a flat and barren strip of beach along the encroaching Atlantic. Similarly, the once bustling downtown area was boarded up and quiet. Many of the beach-side clubs were totally washed away when the main storm surge slammed the coast. Despite the loss and the devastation, what was really amazing to see was the simple spirit of the town that refused to give-up. Like Jeff and Peggy, many homeowners started clean-up and rebuilding almost immediately after the storm. Ocean Avenue still showed signs of the flood and sand that had been piled several feet deep but it was also apparent that work to restore the town was making progress. Construction projects were on-going, the local hardware store and Dunkin Donuts were open, and a huge beach replenishment project was well underway. It was a true testament to man’s persistence and also his stubbornness. Sea Bright has endured since its founding in 1869 and will no doubt endure well into the future. We look forward to visiting again this coming summer!