Much has been made of the comeback of the Jersey Shore and the fact that most tourist places opened for business as usual on Memorial Day, the official start of the summer season. But there is another story. For many families who live in communities not near the shore that were devastated by the storm Memorial Day did not mark a new beginning. Those families are still struggling to rebuild their lives and homes, and there are many homes still uninhabitable and abandoned.
Sayreville, New Jersey is one such town. Many homes were destroyed when the storm surge from the Raritan Bay caused the Raritan River to overflow its banks and flood the low-lying areas of the town. Many homeowners are starting to rebuild, others are waiting for FEMA and other assistance. Some homes, like those with Hallowe’en decorations still on the windows, probably will never be rebuilt.
These photos were taken May 28, 2013, one day after the Shore officially opened for business and one day short of seven months after the storm hit.
June 30, 2013. The Newark Star ledger reports that the state will buy most of these homes, which are beyond repair, from the owners, thus making a whole neighborhood simply disappear.
Click on the above photos for a full screen view.
On March 30, 2013, exactly five months after Hurricane Sandy devastated the Jersey Shore I took a ride on Route 35, the major artery on the barrier island from Point Pleasant to Seaside Heights. I saw places that were still totally devastated, people that were rebuilding their homes and towns that were trying to reconstruct the damaged areas. It was a warm day, and Seaside Heights, one of the hardiest hit towns, and a favorite vacation area, was alive with tourists, even though the boardwalk is still under construction.
We’ve all seen the photos of the unbelievable damage Sandy caused to the Jersey shore, Staten Island and lower Manhattan. There were other parts of New Jersey also damaged by the storm. And people struggling to clean out their homes and trying to get their lives together again.
In Linden, New Jersey in this residential area just west of the New Jersey Turnpike near the oil and gas refineries people did not have power or heat and hot water until November 19, almost 3 weeks after the storm. You see debris in yards and driveways. Here is the foundation of a house that collapsed during the storm. A next door neighbor whose house was unaffected rescued the residents. Here is a house where the owner removed the sheetrock from the walls to prevent mold, and here are shoes drying out on the hood of the car in the driveway. During the storm the car was completely under water.
Here you see debris on the driveway up against a car. In the house there was an ageless man walking with a cane. His house had been flooded up to the first floor. He was trying to dry out his basement. His wife was in the hospital and his son had been badly injured.
The waterfront photos were taken the next day in Perth Amboy where whole streets on the waterfront were declared uninhabitable and were so dangerous that even the Red Cross was not allowed in. Those are not toy boats; they are yachts in the marina that were damaged or destroyed during the storm, some of which were tossed out of the water and onto land.
I was working the overnight shift at a Red Cross shelter which was providing relief for people in New Jersey who were displaced by Hurricane Sandy and the nor’easter that followed it a week later. My first night I noticed this doll in a corner by the sign. It was there the second night and the third. I began wondering where the doll had come from and was its little girl, for that is whom I presumed owned it, still at the shelter or was she fortunate enough to leave, and was she as sad as the scene looks to me, and does she miss her little doll and her home. I wonder where she is.
Many gas stations closed when Sandy struck, even in areas that didn’t flood, because of the widespread power outages. Those that stayed open quickly ran out of gas and at the moment, Nov. 1, have not been resupplied.
This gas station in Bloomfield New Jersey was charging $3.29 a gallon, the cheapest around, the day before Sandy struck. It was up to $3.99 a gallon when it ran out of gas.
On November 3 gas in New Jersey was in very short supply. People were lining up with gas cans for their generators because power was still out and there was no telling when it would be back on. And of course cars were scrambling to find an open station and waited in very long lines. Note the $3.29 price for Sunoco, which is usually one of the higher priced brands
11 a.m. Sandy is now churning off the coast of Virginia somewhere and beginning to head toward the coast. It is not due to hit Southern New Jersey for another 8 hours or so. I am in North Jersey out of the storm’s direct track and hundreds of miles away from the eye. Even so, winds are 35 mph and it is raining. Since the entire state of New Jersey is shut down, including all rail and surface mass transit, I am stuck inside. So, I did what any photographer would do. I took my camera and looked out my window.