If the TV cameras are out in Sea Bright, a storm must be brewing: Councilman Read Murphy being interviewed Thursday. Below, a rainfall forecast map issued early Friday by the National Weather Service. (Click to enlarge)
By JOHN T. WARD
For the first time since Hurricane-slash-Tropical Storm Irene 14 months ago, the town’s business owners and officials say they’re bracing for a possible weather wallop this time in the form of a combined Hurricane Sandy from the south and cold front from the north.
It’s a collision that’s already been dubbed ‘Frankenstorm‘ four days in advance of its expected arrival. The New York Times says it could produce “a historic and potentially devastating storm” for the Northeast.
“It’s coming. It’s bad,” said Cono Trezza, owner of Sea Bright Pizza on Ocean Avenue. He’s thinking of sandbagging the front and back doors of the recently remodeled space.
“I think we’re going to get it,” said Brian George, owner of the Northshore Menswear haberdashery. “In this town, we’re kind of vulnerable. We have water on this side, and water on that side,” he said, pointing first toward the Shrewsbury River and then toward the Atlantic Ocean, each a stone’s throw away. “But what gets us is the wind.”
Preparation, in the form of sandbagging, plywooding and moving merchandise well up off the floor, has worked in the past to minimize asset losses, George and others said.
And an evacuation order, if necessary, of the kind used in advance of Irene in August, 2011, could compel some residents to get out of town, though enforcing it would be all but impossible, officials said.
Councilman Read Murphy said a decision on whether to issue such an order would not be made for days. The storm was last expected to hit on Tuesday.
Murphy’s gut tells him “this one’s gonna be bad,” he said. “I’ve got a feeling about this one.”
Meantime, the borough’s emergency management planners have issued a preparedness guide they hope residents will study and follow. Here it is: HurricaneSurvivalGuide-20120815
At Bain’s Hardware, where the shelves of batteries and other supplies are an indicator of concern, there were no shortages late Thursday, owner Frank Bain told redbankgreen. But that can change as the days pass, he said.
“A lot can happen,” he said. “We just have to hope it goes away. We like to sell beach chairs, not emergency supplies.”
Not everyone is terribly concerned. Regina Pereira, a stylist at Salon Mari, saw the forecasting and chatter as hot air.
“They’re all talking about it, which means nothing’s going to come,” she said.
All told, Irene went light on Sea Bright — far lighter than it did on inland locations from the mid-Atlantic to upper New England. The borough came through with “just a little kiss” of water downtown, and the flooding drained quickly. The floors at the Valkyrie Squash Club were destroyed after sandbags meant to protect the place were pilfrered, but other businesses reported little or no water damage, and what water there was drained away rapidly.
A day after the storm, the town was dry and relatively mess-free, as seen in this redbankgreen video.