It was hard to watch, even from the relative safe heaven a couple of hundred miles away. You knew it was going to be bad from the forecasts as Sandy turned from a late-season hurricane into the storm of the century, a storm for all seasons with wind, rain, blizzards, storm surges, power outages, floods and devastation.
Having grown up in New Jersey, having gone to school in Florida, having lived in Boston, hurricanes, Noreasters, and blizzards, I am familiar with Mother Nature showing her power. The only saving grace to those type of weather events is that in this day of instant information, you pretty much know when they are coming and where they are going well before they arrive.
In most instances, earthquakes–which can happen on the sunniest of days–are more frightening because you get almost no warning.
So it was with a mixture of curiosity and trepidation that I watched Sandy moving up the Atlantic Coast.
It was with a more than a sense of horror that I watched it make a left hand turn and slam into what, for any Jerseyguy, was the heart of the state–the Jersey shore.
New Jersey has different images for different people. Many people only know the corridor of the Turnpike from the GW Bridge down to the Delaware Memorial Bridge. They know the Meadowlands and the industrial profile provided by towns such as Secaucus, Newark, and Elizabeth.
But if you were a kid growing up in Jersey, you also knew the Parkway. I grew up near Exit 168 on the Parkway and for many summer weekends my destination was Exit 82, which would take me to Seaside Heights.
I would also get off at Exit 105 would send me to Monmouth Park, which was the Jersey version of Delmar, where the surf met the turf.
I had relatives and friends who lived in Brick Township and Point Pleasant (Exit 96). I knew others who would head down to the tip of Jersey and Cape May, Wildwood and Avalon–but that was more Philadelphia than Jersey to most of us.
For me, it was Seaside Heights for not only the beaches, but the boardwalk and the arcades and the wonderful sights, sounds and smells of the Jersey shore on a warm August day.
Almost heaven? It was heaven. Lying on the beach, with radios (yes, radios) playing songs like Under the Boardwalk by The Drifters or the latest hit by the Beach Boys. You could also follow what was happening with the Yankees or Mets by just walking along the beach at Seaside on some summer afternoons.
But as I watched Hurricane Sandy hit Atlantic City and then move up the coast, taking out town after town, I knew what was coming. It didn’t look or sound good. And it wasn’t.
And then Tuesday, in the daylight hours, in grim and devastating pictures and sounds, I saw what was left of Seaside Heights. Houses gone, the Boardwalk in ruins, and a debris covering not only streets, but houses, streets still flooded.
It was that way all over the state. It was that way in New York City, where the lower third of Manhattan was dark and under water. It was that way in places just across the GW Bridge in communities like Moonachie and Little Ferry, places where I would find the greatest hot dogs in the world at a place called Callahan’s on Route 46.
On Tuesday, I saw only flooded streets and people being ferried from their homes in boats.
Stuff happens and Jersey will recover. It will rebuild and be revitalized. People who aren’t from Jersey will continue to make their jokes about the state and the people. That’s fine.
I haven’t lived in Jersey for 30 years. But I have still have friends who live there. There will be time to pick up the pace again very quickly and deal with what’s happening at Boston College, with listening to the rants from the BC fans. That’s fine. They are frustrated and I understand that and they need to vent. No big deal.
There will be time to pick up the world of college football. I tried to do that earlier on Tuesday just to stay busy, but I also needed time to collect my thoughts.
What happened this week in Jersey the last few days makes all of that meaningless.
Most days, its fun being a Jerseyguy.
Today, quite frankly, sucked.© Copyright 2012 Mark, All rights Reserved. Written For: A Jersey Guy