Last night, FOX-NY presented an encore of the special titled, “Jersey Strong: From Seaside to Sea Bright.” This special, originally presented on their sister station, WOR, My9, depicted the happenings of October 29, 2012 when Hurricane Sandy came to town and the Jersey determination since that day.
Presented by newsman, Harry Martin, he took viewers to see the spirit of the Jersey shore to give people a look into what Governor Christie called, “Our Katrina.” When they talk about spirit, Jerseyans are about the spirit to rebuild and renew their Jersey shore.
The Jersey shore goes from Sandy Hook in the north to the southernmost point, Cape May. Each town has its own unique quality and where families have made memories from generation to generation. Now the images have changed, and people wonder if the Jersey shore can be revived, or will it fade away like the old memories.
Focusing on two towns, both hard hits by Sandy and both with determination to come back “Jersey Strong.” First is Seaside Heights. Recently, this town has been most famous as the home of the MTV hit series, “Jersey Shore.” This town is more than a reality show; it is a community of people with determination. The Seaside Heights boardwalk is mostly gone, leaving businesses just a pile of rubble. Harry spoke to Robin Woodfield, owner of a business on the boardwalk who took Harry inside to see the basement of her business. The basement measured 50′ x 30′ and is 12′ high, just filled with debris that the ocean deposited there. Robin said she is sure there are some interesting things there, but it is nothing but garbage.
A few steps from Robin’s business were the sight of the renowned Seaside Heights amusement pier, home of the iconic roller coaster, now a fixture in the ocean. Mayor Bill Akers showed Harry where the ocean took away the rest of the amusement pier. The roller coaster may still be a grim reminder of Sandy’s wrath; however, she took all the other rides away. Harry pointed out the site of a million dollar haunted house, Stillwalk Manor; completely gone. Chief of Police Thomas J. Boyd met with Harry to state that without a summer, there could be no Seaside Heights.
Harry also visited the “Jersey Shore” house that seemed to survive unscathed. Michael Graichen, Community Affairs Director, ran a business in Seaside for 45 years; his arcade is in ruins. He said families on the boardwalk lived for the summer, but his 5-bedroom home, several blocks away was also ruined, adding insult to injury.
Now FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency), is changing the elevation maps for the area. People can rebuild, but will not be able to get flood insurance. Good news for Ocean County, they received fifty million dollars for aid, and Seaside Heights hopes to receive twelve million to replace the boardwalk. Mayor Akers has emphatically proclaimed that “they will have a summer in Seaside Heights.”
Harry then visited Sea Bright, a town of a gorgeous view of the Atlantic Ocean and Shrewsbury River. One place, particularly familiar to residents and visitors alike, is Donovan’s Reef, a watering hole with an indoor and outdoor bar and an icon of the area. Harry went with Susana Markson, the manager to see the devastation. They will rebuild.
Mayor Dina Long and council president, Brian Kelly of Sea Bright showed Harry around. Mayor Long showed him her home where nothing is left but bare beams and a house that moved off its foundation. Brian showed Harry a home that was elevated through a grant program from FEMA, just the year before. This was the only house on the street that survived the storm. They have a motto in Sea Bright; Sea Bright Rising, with spirits, homes and determination rising above the elements, they plan to survive and welcome visitors back in the summer of 2013.
As a parting message, Harry found the words on a building; “No Retreat No Surrender.” This summarizes the Jersey Strong attitude from all the people he met while visiting these areas. So expect to see summer of 2013 to be nothing but “Jersey Strong: From Seaside to Sea Bright” and all shore areas from north to south.