Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Hurricane Sandy Aftermath

A sign blown from the Promenade that fronts the sea at the north end of Brigantine Boulevard.  Hopefully both the sign and the affected parts of town will soon be restored.
Your diarist's house is located on the beach-block end of a street at about the mid-point of the island of Brigantine.  While it's almost ridiculous to talk about "elevation" on a mostly flat barrier island, the middle of the island is both the wide point and the high point of Brigantine Beach.  An extra 25 feet of elevation and and extra several hundred yards of beach before the dunes was basically the difference between getting flooded and staying dry.  We were extremely lucky and sustained no damage other than having a section of fence knocked down and a downspout from one of the gutters blown off.  I was able to repair both items the same day.  Others on the island, particularly on the north end and the bay side were not as lucky.  We took a ride to check on friends living on the bay side and passed street after street of people who were piling wet carpets, sofas, bedding, large appliances, sheet rock and all manner of household items on the curb for bulk trash pick up.  We limited taking photos of all that because it seemed callous to snap pictures of other people's misery.  What follows are some pix from the beach, the promenade, the yacht club and a limited number of other island locations. As of last week some streets were still blocked off by the police department.

Your diarist's summer HQ must be a lucky house.  I had a section of fence to nail back in place and a downspout to repair.
Other than that, the joint was still standing.
The sea had obviously come up to about the middle of the path through the dune as evidenced by this debris (part of someone's deck railing) but we didn't have the Ocean in our street or the dune inside the house like we did in the Ash Wednesday storm of '62.
Closer to the ocean side of the dune path it was clear that the sea had been gnawing at our defenses but thankfully, years of planting beach grass and the black pine seedlings that volunteer in our gardens apparently have paid off. 

The life guard shack from 21st Street drifted south several blocks before turning on its side.  Atlantic City's sky line can be seen in the background.
On the bay side of the island damage was more evident.  This is the BYC pier which goes out to the T-dock.  Compare this photo with the ones taken at fall workday a couple weekends earlier.
Although up from ground level by a couple of feet, the clubhouse still shipped about a half foot of water during the storm.  The club officers don't know yet if the appliances inside the clubhouse are damaged or not.
These are the wake boards from one of the docks at the club.  Fortunately someone was able to get a line on them before they drifted away.
I'm frankly amazed that this rack load of boats is still here.
The water was high enough to float these T-dock sections from where we had left them on work day to flagpole.  The trailer they are resting on is for one of the club's power boats.
Luckily, the boat off her trailer was resting on the pebbles by the bulkhead rather than sunk over in the marsh island.
With another nor'easter predicted to hit the coast this coming week, many people near the club elected to keep their windows boarded.
Other than a short laundry list of small damage, the club got off amazing well for being located right on the bay.
We drove up to the north end Promenade area.  The City had done a good job in the four days since the storm but there were still piles of sand at the curb that needed to go back to the beach.
Many houses had lost siding and here and there, roof sections on the exposed northeast sides.  A former Brigantine resident asked me if I thought that this storm was as bad as the nor'easter of  '62.  My opinion is that the two storms as well as the island's buildings are different.  The 1962 storm, although short in duration, left many houses completely shattered.  I didn't see a single example of that with Sandy even though she took the better part of three days to come and go.  One thing to keep in mind is that the houses that replaced those older homes are built on pilings, and although the materials are perhaps not as good, now as back then, the newer houses are designed and built stronger than the old ones.  On the other hand, there were areas at the north end and bay side where street after street was flooded and the residents were busy throwing out the entire contents of their homes for eventual bulk trash pick up.  This was very much the same story as back in '62.  During the '62 storm the entire island briefly went under water and pushed all of the dunes across the island and into the bay.  It took a year and a half to dredge and pump the sand back to the ocean side of the island.  Sandy didn't do that.  The photos I've seen from many northern New Jersey areas does show the type of damage we saw on Brigantine during the storm 50 years ago.  So, was Sandy as bad as the '62 nor'easter?  I think it depends on which town you look at.  Brigantine didn't get completely off the hook but I don't think we got the damage seen in other coastal towns to the north of our island and not the scope of damage seen in 1962.
The Promenade bulkhead sustained heavy damage.  A small sand beach used to cover the rocks at the base of the bulkhead.  You can seen "before" pix of this area at the tail end of part 1 of our north end beach walk from last summer.
This house stands just across the road from the Promenade bulkhead and was featured on a number of internet sites showing the ocean roaring over, through and around the bulkhead and straight into this house.  It's a testament to the strength of the newer buildings that this structure is still standing.
The City workers were busy removing sand from the streets and attempting to reshape the dunes.

We moved on and were pleased to see that the old Rod 'n Reel Cafe had weathered the storm.
Others were not so lucky.  There were many blocks of streets like this and worse.  We soon stopped taking pictures.

There is so much debris that the City has opened a temporary dump at a parking lot by the golf course.  It will take weeks to haul all the damaged things away.

Not everyone was working.  This kite surfer was enjoying the 30 knot winds left over from the storm.
We stopped to check on friends who live by the bay on West Shore Drive.  The house was OK but the garage had been flooded.  After cresting the bulkhead the water was mailbox high.  They are in the middle of restoring an old GP-14 sailing dinghy.  The dinghy must be a lucky boat because she'd floated from where she was stored, under an overhead deck on the bay side of the house, to the front of the house where the receding waters deposited her on the driveway.  She could have just as easily been swept over the bulkhead to who knows where.

We returned home.  I got to work on the damaged fence and downspout and Diaristwoman took a beach walk.  The old hotel seemed to have come through the storm intact if a bit disheveled.

Those palm trees aren't long for this world even without another nor'easter.  The island will soon have it's first frost.
A random chair from someone's dining room.
The winds scoured the beaches revealing the black oil-stained sands.
I leave you with this photo of surf fishermen as a sign that normality will quickly return to our island.