829 Southdrive

829 Southdrive

A New Jersey state of mind

Thursday, January 17, 2013

A Long Way To Go, Still

It took me this long to make my way back down to the new
 'ground zero', the old 'new' inlet at the eastern foot of the 
Mantoloking bridge.  As much as it seems to have changed here,
much still remains quite the same.  The dunes have since been
built up rather high; the most immediate remedy to the Atlantic
Ocean freely spilling into the upper Barnegat Bay.  But a lot of
the carnage that was chronicled in the days just after Sandy flowed
through these blocks of houses still remains.  I drove down this part
of the bridge, anticipating some leftover damage, but I wasn't ready
for the letdown that awaited me.  

How could this be?  These people have money.  They have resources.
They have connections.  Two and a half months later, why are there 
still houses uprooted and sitting crookedly in someone else's back-
yard?  And why is there an exposed sandbar where they once had
a somewhat deepwater slip?  This is still so unthinkable to me.

After crossing the bridge, I could only turn right and go south on
Rt. 35.  For anyone wanting to go north, they would need to prove
 they were residents or contractors.  There were cops, local and 
state, everywhere.  Lights were flashing and ID and documentation 
of residency were required to get through the checkpoint.  Still.

I drove for a few hundred feet, constantly looking to the east, 
until I came upon this sight.  It seems so long ago that all of this
happened.  It's shocking that so much is still the same as it 
was when it plopped itself down after the storm finally passed 
through.  I thought of a guy from Michigan when I saw this Sunfish.

More Kansas/Dorothy-like house relocation, but with a lot
more sand and beachy scrub pine trees.  No ruby red slippers
were spotted.  What a world.....what a world!

Ocean Beach destruction.  I wasn't really supposed to be able
to drive around these neighborhoods.  There were cops everywhere.
Nobody was supposed to stray from 35, nobody was to go more
than 25 mph, nobody was to stop their car, and  
most importantly, nobody was to get out of their car. 
Guilty, guilty, guilty, and guilty. 

A humbling sight next to...

.......a more humbling sight.  This pretty much sums up the attitude 
of Jersey Shore folk.  There's no other place they'd rather be.

Stairway to heaven.

After all this shit, someone still wants to build.  There you go.
No matter what part of the world you're in, if it's near the water,
people want to be there, and I can relate to that.

The view north from the Mantoloking bridge.  More or less halfway
 between the tallest water tower and the left side of the photo lies
829 southdrive.  My Grandparents' house was grand according to
1940's standards, but the houses that now occupy that lot on 
South Drive would cast long and tall shadows on that old building.
To this day and forever, that kills me.  Tough shit, man.

A full frame to the right, Herring Island was always a sight on my 
horizon.  It was a destiny to be reached, a mark to be rounded,
and an oasis to be revered.  I never dreamed it would be a witness 
to a natural disaster so devastating as the one the world saw last 
October. Toward the eastern end of this island lies a displaced
structure, sitting upright and surrounded by baywater.  

Upon further review, there sits the portion of some poor soul's 
family legacy, a family's generations-old summer house, a place
where the grandkids came every June through August to go to
the beach, to go crabbing, to sail, and revel in all the goings on 
that a summer house at the shore could afford.   

One hundred and eighty degrees from 829, the Mantoloking Yacht 
Club appeared unscathed.  I'm happy for them, for the houses 
to the left fared not so well. 

Consider this:  This photo, as well as the others, was taken on 
Monday, January 14, 2013.  These conditions still exist.
Even I assumed that all this shit would be cleaned up by now.
Remember, this is the first visit I've had down here since Sandy.
I've seen a lot on TV about Obama and Christie and FEMA
and Bon Jovi and Springsteen and The Who and McCartney.
But then every day I see folks from Staten Island crying because
they still have no power or water, and there's garbage and debris
piled up on their streets that's rotting away.  There are still 
thousands of  residents of the New Jersey barrier islands who
can't yet re-inhabit their houses because the gas, electric, and
water services have yet to be restored.  This is a crisis that
no one had ever imagined possible.  

It's amazing to me how bayside homes are sinking into their
foundations, while houses across the street and closer to the
beach are still upright.  

I felt obligated to visit my favorite boatyard before I headed back 
home.  After all, it lies just west of the Mantoloking bridge and 
it's on the way home so......  Rusty Manheimer's sloop didn't take
too well to the Atlantic disturbance.  If it were someone else's
boat I would be more worried.  But look where Sjogin is chocked
up.  If I were an old boat in need of some TLC, this yard would
be my emergency room, hands down.  Note the dude walking
in the background to the right.

Through the gaping hole, I took this shot.  The sardine stove has
since been removed, as well as Russ's library of salty, sailboat
literature.  I'm hoping he removed the books from the shelf before
Sandy came knocking.  He and I once sat down below here
drinking 'Full Sail' beer and chomping on pastrami sandwiches
made on Miami onion bread with arugula, stagianato, and
whole grain mustard.  A lunch I'll never forget.

I threw our Christmas tree in the back of my Expedition, with the
 intention of contributing to the dune-rebuilding effort going on at
the shore. They lay the trees down in the dunes and then pile 
sand on top, hoping that those trees will provide strength and 
longevity to those piles of sand. While driving up and down
 Rt. 35, I asked several people, cops and utility workers alike, 
where I might leave my tree to help bolster the dunes, in hope that 
our dead holiday memento might be of service to prevent similar 
devastation from occuring.  I might as well have had two heads.

Then I got to Beaton's.  There I saw a pick-up with a Christmas
 tree in the back.  I sought out the guy walking in the background
of the photo two photos back, and convinced him to take mine
with his to Cattus Island, where they were collecting trees to rebuild
the dunes.  Mission accomplished.  

On the way out on Beaton's Road.  If it didn't sink in by now 
that something wicked this way came, this image reminded me.


  1. Some very sobering images, the news and media may have moved on but the legacy remains

  2. it pains me to think how hard it must be for you to visit there and still see so much damage with little (or no) work being done. as you said, the news cameras have moved on to the latest story and people forget about what's left behind.

    thanks for the Sunfish picture.

  3. Baydog, I have no words that can express my reaction to your Post. You know my relationship to Beaton's and the area adjacient to that yard. Ugh, I dread what I will return to in four months. Thanks for the documentary.

  4. As disturbing as these words and pictures are, this may be your best post.

    It can take a long time for government and insurance money to trickle down, especially in today's legal climate, and I'd guess the regulatory red tape to be cleared before most rebuilding can even begin must be worse now than ever.

    As a kid, I remember seeing storm damage at the shore but never anything on this scale, nothing that took out the infrastructure like this. But, as you note, while the dunes may have shifted in the areas worst hit, the moneyed are still there. The shore will come back.

    1. Ditto, the best post. Great photos documenting the devastation.

  5. Oof. So jarring, again (like my own trip out to Rockaway back in December), seeing how bad it still is out there, when things are so back to normal in most of the areas that I travel, and as Bursledon Blogger pointed out, the media has so much moved on to other things. Reminders are needed.

  6. A stunning and moving posting which will linger in my mind....

  7. Wow: what a raw scene of devastation, still.

    I'm sure things will improve when the weather warms up and money starts to flow, but as you say there are people who live there, now :(