A New Light On Recovery- Hurricane Sandy Aftermath

Wow, have I been lax in writing blog posts.  It has been a busy summer with job loss and getting my photography business up and running.  No excuse- a blog is a big part of it.  But those who read my blog know I usually post when something somewhat dramatic (to me) happens.  I find it difficult to just wake up on a Tuesday morning and write a blog post that is even remotely meaningful.

So if you think back a year or so, we had earthquakes, stock market “crashes,” and a hurricane.  Hmmm.  Sounds almost familiar.  So this year, we had a hurricane (sorry, superstorm), an earthquake (centered on Ringwood, NJ), and we’re in the midst of a presidential election.  And now we have a nor’easter bearing down on us right after total devastation in parts of NJ.

As I write this, a vast section of the Jersey Shore has been devastated.  Indeed, parts of the map of the coast of NJ may have to be redrawn.  Hundreds of thousands of people are without electrical power going on a week.  Fortunately, the earthquake of which I spoke was small (2.2 on the Richter Scale) and did no damage- but I’m sure it frayed a few nerves.  And a powerful nor’easter is bearing down on us for Wednesday.  We have massive shortages of gasoline (due to closed roads and gas stations with no power) and we are basically facing this crisis for another few weeks as Winter approaches.

Another ho’hum year of being a Jersey-ite.

The roads have been unsafe (traffic lights out), and I didn’t want to waste gas- so I stayed home rather than venture out until now.  But with some other commitments, my wife and son needed to go out.  So I made a day of it and went with them to scout and take a few pictures.  Sometimes I get lucky and see something everyone else is missing.  Today was no exception.

I would be shocked if people have not yet seen pictures of the Jersey Shore after the storm.  They’re all focusing on the damage.  Since I often go to Belmar, I was horrified to see pictures of the boardwalk.  It was gone.

Well, I found it…

Rubble in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy in Belmar, NJ

I often visit the Belmar Marina- it is a great little spot with a scenic sunset, boats, birds, and parking.  And there’s a Dunkin Donuts a mile away.  So I can take pictures with the convenience of my car nearby and yet get a few nice shots.  And there is rarely a crowd.  As I drove down there today, I fully expected to see boats piled on top of boats and utter devastation.  What I actually found was the butt-end of the disaster.  Ever wonder where all of the rubble and debris goes after an event like this?  Well it often starts out in a staging area such as this.  The parking lot of the marina has been transformed into a dump of sorts.

Many people will choose to look at that picture and be sad.  I admit, it tugged at me a bit when I first realized what I was looking at.  A beloved boardwalk.  People would go for morning and evening walks.  You’d cross over it to get to the beach.  You’d walk up and down with your best girl in tow, proud of the fact that she was wearing a skimpy bikini…. and she was with you!  If you’ve ever been to the Jersey Shore, you know all about the boardwalk.

And there it was.  A pile of garbage.  Sad that it would all get put into some landfill or dump site along with the remnants of people’s houses and belongings- all victims of a horrible night.

But wait!  What is this?  Out of the dust and smoke of a working dump site, another truck appeared out of the mist…. what is this?

The Doppstadt DW-3060-K wood chipper arrives on the job after Hurricane Sandy in Belmar, NJ

The Doppstadt DW-3060-K wood chipper… (to paraphrase Agent J from MIB)… Now that’s what I’M talkin’bout!!!  Basically, this machine has a giant screw inside and it just spits out tiny pieces of wood.  The site foreman told me they had a second machine that can handle metal on its way.

[Photography info:  All shots on this blog are shot with a Nikon D800 and 24-70/f2.8 lens, ISO 100.]

The other heavy equipment stood by, ready to jump into action….

Heavy equipment at Belmar, NJ after Hurricane Sandy

That actually made me feel good in some small way.  It’s all going to be recycled!  Who knows where it may wind up.  As the boardwalk is rebuilt, we may eventually be sitting on a wooden bench made from recycled materials from the last boardwalk.  Maybe you’ll build a deck on your house using composite wood materials- you can build your own back yard boardwalk out of bits of Belmar’s boardwalk!  I think that’s cool.

Many can be sad and negative about this disaster.  But I’ve decided to be positive.  Again, to paraphrase a movie, out of destruction and chaos, order and life will appear (Zorg from The Fifth Element).  Please don’t think I’m a horrible person.  It is horrible that people lost their homes, businesses, and some lives.  And the shore area will probably never be the same.  But the storm happened.  It’s gone.  It can’t be undone.  We need to move forward to get through this so the next one isn’t as horrible (and that’s in like, I dunno, two days from when I write this).  I’m positive because, as horrible as this was, I truly believe that we’ll come back stronger than ever.

The Doppstadt DW-3060-K proves that.

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