It was like Waterworld, but much much worse (if you can imagine that). Image after image of devastation. The New York and New Jersey coasts were annihilated. But nothing compared to watching clips of Long Beach Island. After countless summers and long winter weekends on the island, half of my heart is buried in its sands. Paralyzed by the b-roll, I couldn't help but cry.
Maybe it had a bit to do with four canceled flights and my rattling displacement in North Carolina. Try watching nothing but decimated homes and interviews of people without a place to sleep. Even the Shack was destroyed. After that, pretty much anything would've made me weepy.
The moment I could, I scrambled to donate money to Red Cross. Still feeling helpless and determined to DO something, I discovered a beach-wide community clean up effort. I rallied my dad and Katie, my co-worker, rounded up a few of her friends. Next thing I knew, we were raking yards full of pine needles, tearing down water-logged, moldy wood paneling and hugging strangers (well, I did some stranger-hugging at least).
Saturday's effort on Long Beach Island drew about 1,000 people and raised money for the firefighters of Beach Haven who haven't left the island since the storm hit. While my efforts might be only a small dent in a long road to recovery, it was great to see people come together and witness flickers of hope for an island that feels more like home than my real home.
Swelling up to the meet the ocean before the brunt of the storm hit, the surge from the bay seemed to cause the worst of the damage. North Beach took a hard hit and Holgate was still closed on Saturday. Other parts of the island with more substantial dune systems fared better, but a lot of people are still displaced and without power. And trust me, you don't even want to hear about the scary 30-foot pile of trash outside of the Acme.
The infrastructure of the New Jersey barrier islands needs some significant changes. Here's hoping Hurricane Sandy is a wakeup call.
Oh yeah. And long live the Shack.