By JOHN T. WARD
The beach clubs and bars may be temporarily gone, but Sea Bright appears to have a new, if temporary attraction: ‘Mount Sandy.’
Rising perhaps 40 feet above the ocean beach on which it was built, a giant pile of sand reclaimed from the storm-tossed borough’s streets has been luring sightseers willing to climb its soft face, rewarding them with a bird’s-eye view of Hurricane Sandy’s devastation.
Just yards away, in fact, is a another mountain rising, this one made of discarded appliances, furniture and building materials.
Late Wednesday afternoon, photographers, beach strollers, dog walkers and even a man in business clothes and loafers could be found near the peak of Mount Sandy, which is gradually being whittled down as the sand is redistributed across the municipal beach.
Up there were two young Fair Haven women, one of them wearing a Chapel Beach Club lifeguard sweatshirt and taking in a view of the destroyed club less than a quarter-mile away.
“It’s horrifying. That’s the only word I can come up with,” said Carolyn Rigby, 19, who has worked at the club for six years, and last summer was its head lifeguard. She returned home earlier this week for the first time since the hurricane from St. Mary’s College in Indiana.”There’s a sense of, it’s a death in the family.”
A self-described “Sands Beach Club baby,” Rigby said Sea Bright “gave me my childhood,” and so she was volunteering this week in the tent city set up to feed, clothe and provide other assistance to borough residents wiped out by the flood.
With Rigby was Rachel Pedersen, also of Fair Haven, home for the holiday from Muhlenberg College in Pennsylvania. In the summer, she works at the “big” Monmouth Beach Club in Monmouth Beach. Like Rigby, she was volunteering in Sea Bright.
“I knew the first day back I’d be here,” she said. “It makes me so upset to see it like this,” she said, looking in the direction of the downtown.
Still, the beach town has retained the natural qualities that have surrounded it for millenia, Rigby said, gesturing toward a placid ocean.
“I hope everyone who visits now comes back and gets to see it in its beauty,” she said.