Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Devastation after the storm in Belmar, NJ

Photo by Kelley Anne Essinger
A capsized 
tree in the frontyard of a home on 
20th Ave. in Lake Como, NJ.

Many residents along the east coast thought Hurricane Sandy would be just another fluke storm the media was getting everybody too excited for. But something deep down made me believe, this time, things would be different.

Luckily, a friend of mine who lives in Belmar, had tickets to see the Shiny Toy Guns at the North Star Bar in Philadelphia on Saturday night. The next day we received word about the flooding in my hometown near Long Beach Island where families were vacating last minute. We decided to camp out at my brother’s apartment in the city for another night.

The storm didn’t cause too much damage in Pennsylvania. There was some rain and strong gusts of wind. But other than making it through steady wind and rain during a quick walk to Wawa, we didn’t worry too much. Unlike our families at home, our power never went out, our roads never flooded, and there was no real debris found lying around, other than some good, old-fashioned city trash.

But things at the Jersey Shore were different.

Many LBI residents either fled, or were rescued at the last minute during the storm. Others stayed in shelters. Some stuck it out and were lucky — emphasis on the “lucky.”

Many folks on the mainland hunkered down in their homes, waiting for the power to go out, hoping it wouldn’t. Those along the bay front were evacuated.

I finally made it back to Belmar on Tuesday afternoon, where my car had been parked on the street during the storm. My car survived, but the power is still out in most towns along the coast.

As soon as I got into town, I hopped on a bike so I could assess the damage with my own eyes. Many others were doing the same.

Photo by Kelley Anne Essinger
Local residents are stunned by the
amount of floodwater that overflowed
from Lake Como, near Main St. and
22nd Ave.
Some of the residents were busy clearing debris from their lawns. Others were hanging tight, drinking leisurely on their porches with friends and family. There were even a few people kayaking or canoeing down streets still filled with water.

Belmar is now it’s own little island, surrounded by floodwater as far as the Shark River Main Street Drawbridge to 22nd St., and as wide as the boulevard on Main St. to the beach at Ocean Ave. Curious sightseers were being shooed away from the beach as emergency personnel worked feverishly to reconstruct the damage imposed on the boardwalk, local businesses and homes. These pictures are just a sampling of the damage bestowed upon the tiny, coastal town.

Families are still stuck at local shelters. The traffic lights are out. Drivers are taking it upon themselves to conduct traffic their own way. Once in awhile, someone screws it up. One driver blares his horn; another flips his middle finger. They wait until the anger subsides, then carry on the best they can.

It’s dark now, and no one has been able to vacate their premises since the town’s 7 p.m. curfew. Though we’re all a bit agitated, we’re plenty grateful to have running water and hopefully other basic living essentials.

Though many of us are still without power, my friend’s parents have a generator for which I’m grateful to use to type this blog entry and upload photographs.

Tomorrow I will drive home to the mainland near LBI, where some of the residents are lucky enough to have power. As of now, no one is able to cross the Causeway Bridge to the Island, where pictures taken by rescue workers show more ruthless devastation.

Photos by Kelley Anne Essinger