Along Raritan bay in northern NJ you will find the hardest hit areas in the state outside of the eastern shore communities, many which are just now opening to the public.
In Keansburg you will find your typical shore attractions, with its own local color. Keansburg Amusement Park suffered major damage. While I was outside the half knocked over iron gates I came across a local woman who was thrilled to have power back on Sunday. She shared with me some of her fond memories of the town and lamented how her friend who was with her, would not be able to take his children to the same Keansburg she remembers.
One of my all-time favorite rides didn’t survive the storm.
She told me about the store in front of this pile of soggy chairs; her favorite place for hot dogs.
Only a shell remains of a once beautiful indoor carousel.
What you see here is the force of the storm surge. It destroyed all the small beach stores in between the buildings off the street and the shore, pummeled into the back of this building punching a hole through the back and ripping the security doors from their tracks.
Even stores that looked ok from the front were nothing but wet shells on the inside.
Walking across the street and down a ways to the residential area where streets have been cleared of debris and the bulk of the sand washed half a mile inland it doesn’t look much like a residential street.
In the slightly more elevated portions of town they were spared a foot or so of water.
More than 2 weeks out all some homeowners can do is “board” up their windows any way they can and wait for the inspection that will tell them if their home is being razed or not.
This man, in a thick Slovak accent had just given up for the day trying to revive his van. His car, which he had completely removed the interior, was only a shell and still wet, was in pieces and drying atop his hedges. He describes how he was a little too late evacuating. “I get in my car and turn towards the beach – the wind blew and my van turned. I had to go back. A few minutes later the water came.” Gesturing with his hands he continued, “It came like a train. It was so loud. Then the water got higher, higher, higher and kept coming. I didn’t know when it would stop.”
His home, elevated several feet from ground level did not get the almost 4 foot deep flooding, but has been red tagged as unfit for human occupancy. The space under his house which is usually filled with dirt and gravel was almost completely washed away, with only broken timbers and insulation hanging from his ground floor. Being his summer home, I asked him about rebuilding. “Right before the storm I layed new floors. I’ve been here since 2000 and had to clean up after Irene, but nothing like this. I’m done. Done. Just… done.”
My sentiments exactly.