First it was Hurricane Irene. As some of you know, my Family house collapsed on August 28th 2011, followed a year later by Hurricane Sandy which coincidentally hit the exact same day my Parents moved back into their rebuilt home, October 29th, 2012. Luckily our rebuilt home was unaffected and living 16 days without power was the worst we had to deal with although oddly enough, the small apartment they lived in while the house was being repaired was flooded badly and in fact nearly the entire neighborhood was not only evacuated, but almost every house in that one particular section of Sayreville is being bought out by the Government and knocked down. Tragically, my Mom died unexpectedly April 19th, 2013, so she really didn’t get to enjoy the beautiful new kitchen of her dreams and I lost the best friend I ever had. The last few months have been the hardest months of my life as I try to adjust to my new normal.
It’s no exaggeration to say New Jersey has had a rough few years.
Yesterday, when the local news station broke into regular programming with the horrible news that there was a store on fire on the Southern end of the Seaside Boardwalk you could almost hear the collective gasp of the entire state of NJ.
For months we’ve all seen and heard the commercials boasting how we’re “stronger than the storm” and how we wouldn’t let a hurricane keep us down.
If you’re not familiar with New Jersey (and I beg of you, please don’t think that damn MTV Jersey Shore program has an ounce of reality in it; the actors on that show weren’t even from NJ, the only thing real was the town they filmed in, Seaside Heights), going down the shore is almost a rite of passage. I don’t personally know one person from NJ who hasn’t spent time down the shore and the Seaside Heights Boardwalk was without fail always on the agenda. My own Family would rent a bungalow the first two weeks of July every year in Chadwick Beach, just a walk away from the Seaside Boardwalk.
I’ve pulled many a splinter out of my bare feet from walking that Boardwalk.
Been on nearly every ride and ate my way from one end of the boards to the other.
Won all kinds of junk from plunking down coins as the wheel spun around and the music blasted from every direction.
A walk on the boardwalk was an all out assault on every one of your senses. And I loved it.
Someone out there has a pretty strange sense of humor because today was set to begin the celebration of the 100 year Anniversary of Seaside Heights Boardwalk.
We’ll rebuild, we’ll make it through this disaster as we’ve made it through every other disaster we’ve suffered through, but in all honesty, my heart has taken quite a bruising this year. Watching my childhood sink into the sea last year was devastating, to see the exact same place, just rebuilt in time for the summer, burning to the ground live on television, well as I’m sure you can imagine, has taken my level of devastation to new height. Or maybe I should say new depths.
I need to rebuild myself, just as my state will rebuild itself once more, and we will both succeed.
The following are some photos of the damage, including a video taken this morning by helicopter.