SEA BRIGHT: SHAKING OFF SANDY

Six months after it was all but obliterated by Hurricane Sandy, Sea Bright is gradually getting back on its feet, as evident in the extensive repair and rebuilding underway.

redbankgreen photographers Peter Lindner and John T. Ward teamed up to create this slideshow of images of the town before, during – Lindner gets the credit for all of those – and after the historic October 29, 2012, storm, with the final shot in each grouping taken over the weekend of April 27 and 28, 2013.

RED BANK: FLAVOUR FEST FEEDS THRONGS

Does Red Bank know how to eat or whut?

Mais oui! As proof, thousands of visitors jammed the White Street parking lot Sunday for the second annual Red Bank International Flavour Festival, bringing appetites not only for food, served up by two dozen of the town’s restaurants and food stores, but for dancing and general bonhomie.

redbankgreen was there with its point-and-shoot. Were you? Check out our collection of 75 snaps if you’re unsure.

Up next: Sippin’ on the River, in June.

ON THE GREEN: A FULLY-BOOKED WEEKEND

A weekend of belly-busters and bargains awaits visitors to Red Bank’s International Flavour Festival on Sunday, above, and the Townwide Yard Sale on Saturday, below. (Photo by Alexis Orlacchio. Click to enlarge)

By ALEXIS ORLACCHIO

Friday, April 26:

LINCROFT: Score some points at the “Hoops for Hope” basketball tournament to support the Community YMCA’s Strong Kids Campaign and Dreams for Kids at Brookdale Community College.  The night consists of a series of basketball matches between the Dreams for Kids All-star team, featuring current and former NFL players, and community teams including the Red Bank Police Department, Red Bank Charter School, Red Bank Catholic Girls Varsity Basketball Team and the Monmouth University Women’s Basketball Team. Other activities include a VIP reception with the NFL athletes, NFL store, student performers, gift and silent auctions, a 50/50 raffle and community organization booths. Tickets prices vary and family packs are available; purchase them online or at the door. “Hoops for Hope” runs from 6 to 10 p.m. Robert Collins Arena. Newman Springs Road.

RED BANK: “The Electric Baby” continues its run at Two River Theater.  The drama follows three pairs – a middle-aged couple, a hopelessly devoted lover and the apple of her eye, and a Romanian mother and Nigerian father caring for their child – who discover the ways in which their lives are connected. The play, by Stefanie Zadravec, runs through May 5. Tickets are $24-$42 and the show begins at 8 p.m. 21 Bridge Avenue.

RED BANK: Sing your heart out at “Rock N Roll Karaoke,” a weekly happening hosted by the band from NYC’s Arlene’s Grocery. Attempt to master the vocals and music of classic rock favorites at The Downtown. The event begins at 10 p.m. 10 West Front Street.

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SANDY HOOK TO REOPEN MAY 1

All facilities are expected to be open after Memorial Day, the park service said in an announcement. (Click to enlarge)

Closed to the public since Hurricane Sandy hit on October 29, Sandy Hook is expected to reopen next week, federal officials said Thursday.

And in a change from earlier post-Sandy recovery plans for the battered peninsula, visitors will have access to all six beaches after Memorial Day, according to a press release from the National Park Service.

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TEXT ALERT: TIME RUNNING OUT FOR METERS

The centralized pay stations replaced coin-operated meters in several downtown lots last summer, and could displace all remaining meters in a few months, the Press reports. (Click to enlarge)

Tuesday’s Asbury Park Press has some news about Red Bank’s new pay-for-parking system:

• that users can now get text alerts when their allotted time is about to run out

• and that borough officials plan to replace all the old coin-operated meters with the new technology by summer.

Well, at least one of those two is news. Though the article quotes Mayor Pasquale Menna as saying the text alerts went live “a couple of weeks ago,” the text option has been operational since the stations were installed last June. redbankgreen has been using the option since last August, as the dates on the screen grab at right show.

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SEA BRIGHT: BEACH RESTORATION SLATED

A remnant of the old Route 36 Highlands-Sea Bright Bridge found on the Sea Bright municipal beach, where erosion from recent storms is evident, below. (Photo by Wil Fulton. Click to enlarge)

By WIL FULTON

After an eventful, landscape-shifting offseason, sand will again be on the move this summer in Sea Bright.

The federal government is expected to give the borough and neighboring shore communities a helping hand by fully funding a project to replenish storm-scoured beaches, town officials said. And a private contracting firm will use its  resources to move the massive “Mount Sandy” now occupying a municipal parking lots back onto the beaches and into sand dunes by May.

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RED BANK: BRIDAL SURGE REPORTED

Once again, brides-to-be, accompanied by female attendants and the occasional fiancé, flooded the streets of Red Bank for the annual Wedding Walk extravaganza Sunday. The RiverCenter-orchestrated event highlights goods and services available in town, from banquet halls to photo framing.

Among the hundreds of participants was Alyssa Hopkins of Piscataway, who said she came away with “lots of ideas” for her big day and was delighted to find a shop that would rent table lanterns for her wedding reception, sparing her a costly purchase. “What am I going to do with 200 lanterns?” she said. (Click the embiggen symbol to enlarge the photo display.)

SEA BRIGHT: OPERATION SHEETROCK TRIMMED

The rebuilding of a public access stairway over the sea wall is among the projects in the scaled-back volunteer outreach, says coordinator Frank Lawrence, below. (Photo below by Wil Fulton. Click to enlarge)

By WIL FULTON

Last month, Sea Bright Mayor Dina Long offered college students an altruistic alternative to the traditional debauchery-laden spring break: come help residents hang wallboard and make other repairs to their storm-battered homes.

Operation Sheetrock,” she dubbed it.

But with spring break now underway or rapidly approaching, few residences are ready for wallboard hanging, and won’t be for at least a few more weeks, according to borough volunteer coordinator Frank Lawrence.

“So many homes don’t have heat or electricity yet,” Lawrence said, “so a lot of the walls inside these houses are holding moisture. If we hang sheetrock over the walls right now, the moisture will be trapped inside, and when the weather warms up, mold will inevitably grow inside the walls. It’s the perfect environment”

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RED BANK: BAR BOUNCE BOUNCES INTO TOWN

The Dublin House Pub is one of a dozen Red Bank stops on Saturday’s crawl for post-Sandy charities. (Click to enlarge)

By WIL FULTON

With a cold, drab and possibly wet February weekend in the forecast, isn’t time to break out the beach wear?

It is, say the folks at Red Bank RiverCenter, organizers of Saturday’s Red Bank Bar Bounce, a pub crawl that encourages patrons to wear their favorite beach duds as part of a fundraiser for three charities helping to rebuild Hurricane Sandy-shattered Shore towns.

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RED BANK: REFLOATING A LOBSTER SHACK

Kelly Ryan at her storm-damaged Red Bank restaurant on Tuesday. (Photo by Wil Fulton. Click to enlarge)

By WIL FULTON

“When people think of Sandy’s impact on Red Bank, most will say that the town didn’t get it so bad,” says Kelly Ryan, owner of the Boondocks Fishery, a summer-only, open-air eatery that’s been serving lobsters and scallops adjacent to the Navesink River and Marine Park for the past four years. “But I guess they haven’t seen this place.”

“We came back here the day after the storm, and my first reaction was ‘Oh my God, the building is still standing,'” she said. “But once we looked inside, we understood that even though the structure was still up, the insides were completely devastated.”

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FAIR HAVEN DOCK REPAIRS SET

Part of the dock was washed up onto a neighboring yard in the hurricane. (Photo by Joe Fisher. Click to enlarge)

By JOE FISHER

Fair Haven’s municipal dock, washed away by Hurricane Sandy, is expected to reopen by Memorial Day weekend, borough officials said Monday night.

The repair job is expected to cost $90,000, borough Engineer Richard Gardella reported to the borough council.

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AMID WRECKAGE, SEA BRIGHT STARTS ANEW

Mayor Dina Long at the annual reorganization of borough government Saturday. (Photo by Wil Fulton. Click to enlarge)

By WIL FULTON

Though it was an eventful, tumultuous year in this small beachside community, Sea Bright’s 2013 mayor-and-council reorganization meeting brought no major shakeups Saturday.

“We thought it was important at this time to keep things consistent,” Mayor Dina Long told redbankgreen shortly after she began her second year at the helm of local government.

“We definitely didn’t want to create new obstacles at this time,” she said. “We just wanted to help everyone and everything return to normal, or the ‘new normal’ as it should be called, because things will never be quite the same after Sandy.”

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SEA BRIGHT RISING, ONE GIFT CARD AT A TIME

Ilene Winters and Chris Wood reviewing requests for help from Sea Bright Rising in Wood’s office Thursday. Below, a mudline shows the height of the water that inundated homes and businesses in town during Hurricane Sandy. (Photo by Wil Fulton. Click to enlarge)

By WIL FULTON

Nearly 70 days after Hurricane Sandy washed the Atlantic Ocean into his Sea Bright restaurant, Woody’s Ocean Grille owner Chris Wood hunkered down with Ilene Winters in his loft office, sifting through aid requests from residents whose homes were flooded or destroyed in the storm.

The two executives of Sea Bright Rising were prioritizing applications for help with repair and replacement expenses from their neighbors as part of an effort to dole out nearly $500,000 in donations collected in the aftermath of the October 29 storm.

“We need two things from those reaching out to us: specificity and priority,” Wood said. “We don’t give out direct personal checks, cash or Visa cards, but we are more than happy to write checks to contractors, landlords or electricians for a portion –usually around 25 percent, of their bill, for example. We can’t write a check for ‘help’.”

Among the charitable organizations that arose in the wake of Sandy, the one Sea Bright residents have been able to lean on perhaps more than any other is a home-grown effort dedicated to the town’s return from the wreckage.

In terms of community outreach, involvement, and most importantly, results, it’s doing the job, its founders say. And in a period in which many Sandy-related charities are losing steam, Wood and Winters insist theirs is just getting started.

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JERSEY OFFICIALS BLAST SANDY FUND CUTOFF

Sea Bright Mayor Dina Long with Governor Chris Christie in Sea Bright on November 9. Both have joined in on bipartisan condemnation of inaction by the GOP-controlled House. (Click to enlarge)

State and local officials, including Republicans, are expressing outrage Wednesday over Congressional inaction, attributed to the GOP majority, on a $60.4 billion aid package for communities devastated by Hurricane Sandy.

From the Star-Ledger’s NJ.com:

Gov. Chris Christie ripped into House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) today for delaying a vote on billions in federal aid for recovery from Hurricane Sandy.

“There’s only one group to blame for the continued suffering of these innocent victims: The House majority and their speaker, John Boehner,” said Christie at a press conference this afternoon.

Christie, who gave the keynote address at the Republican National Convention last summer, said Congress traditionally puts politics aside for disaster relief but that House Republican leadership had put politics “before our oaths to serve our citizens.”

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STORM CHARITY DIGS IN FOR THE LONG HAUL

RebuildRecover co-founder Mike Hernandez surrounded by donated materiel in the organization’s initial home: his Sounds to Go DJ office on East Front Street in Red Bank. (Click to enlarge)

By WIL FULTON

Eight weeks after the hurricane, a grassroots effort to provide necessities to residents of neighborhoods damaged by Sandy is still going strong, and plans to morph into a permanent relief operation, its founders say.

Created by six twentysomething friends who wanted to provide aid on their own terms, Red Bank-based RebuildRecover quickly became one of the Shore area’s most visible and influential nonprofit charities, attracting the attention of The Daily Show host Jon Stewart, who lives in town, and hundreds of lesser-known donors.

“After three days of working with another, really well-known charity organization that will not be named, my co-founders and I decided to take matters in our own hands,” said vice president David Cruse. The idea, he said, was to “create an organization that would provide those in need with direct, immediate help.”

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CHRISTMAS IN SEA BRIGHT

Heartwarming update on Sea Bright’s effort to recover from Hurricane Sandy. The video is  by Montclair State student Noah Smith, who also produced one last month on the challenges faced by business owners in town. (Thanks to Debbie Galant of the New Jersey News Commons for passing this along.) (Click to enlarge)

SEA BRIGHT: HARRY’S CLAWS ITS WAY BACK

Lou Jacoubs in the restaurant’s dining room Tuesday. (Photo by Wil Fulton. Click to enlarge)

By WIL FULTON

Another Sea Bright staple gets back in action when Harry’s Lobster House reopens Wednesday night, the first restaurant in the downtown district to do so since Hurricane Sandy.

Owner Lou Jacoubs took redbankgreen inside his newly restored and renovated restaurant, located in the heart the Ocean Avenue strip, for a sneak peek at what loyal customers and curious newcomers can expect from the “new and improved” Harry’s.

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SEA BRIGHT: COUNCIL WAIVES PERMIT FEES

Members of the borough council at Tuesday night’s meeting. (Photo by Wil Fulton. Click to enlarge)

By WIL FULTON

Amid complaints by residents about unresolved insurance claims and other rebuilding delays, the Sea Bright borough council rolled out several measures aimed at getting them back into their homes with less hassle and cost Tuesday night.

Among the moves: a moratorium on construction permit fees for all work related to Hurricane Sandy-related rebuilding and repairs.

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JON STEWART AND BRIAN WILLIAMS SLING IT

News anchor Brian Williams, left, and comedian Jon Stewart traded barbs on the stage of the Count Basie Theatre in a fundraiser for Hurricane Sandy relief. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Long on sarcasm, feigned eye-rolling and Jersey love, the hosts of the nation’s top-rated television shows in their respective categories traded zingers in a conversation about the media, politics and growing up in the Garden State before a packed Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank Sunday night.

In a sparring mood that might have been a continuation of their pre-show dinner at the nearby Broadway Diner, The Daily Show host Jon Stewart and NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams traded insights into their jobs and flashing wit for two hours and 20 minutes, including a Q&A session with the audience.

“Thank you for dropping the F bomb 41 seconds into this,” Williams said to Stewart, who sniped that Williams’ job entailed his being removed from a “vegetable crisper” just in time for each night’s news broadcast.

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SEA BRIGHT: CHRISTIE TOUTS FOCUS ON BIZ

Joined by Mayor Dina Long and business owners, Governor Chris Christie unveiled a new cabinet-level office to focus on post-storm rebuilding efforts. (Photo by Wil Fulton. Click to enlarge)

By WIL FULTON

Governor Chris Christie came to Sea Bright Friday afternoon, making his second visit to the storm-ravaged community since Hurricane Sandy struck. But while his first visit was a gesture of support to the beachside borough, this trip was all business.

At a news conference in the borough firehouse, Christie stood in front of a signs from local businesses including Bain’s Hardware, Woody’s Oceanfront Grille and Sea Bright Pizza to announce and lay out plans to help businesses that were affected by the hurricane. These include, he said, the creation of a new cabinet-level position – the Office of Recovery and Rebuilding – and the formation of a business impact assessment group, designed to aid businesses on a personal level.

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SEA BRIGHT: BAIN’S IS BACK IN THE PAINT

Frank Bain working the phone and the computer in the freshly restored paint section of his hardware store. (Photos by Wil Fulton. Click to enlarge)

By WIL FULTON

The rebuilding process in Sea Bright took a big step forward this week when Ocean Avenue mainstay Bain’s Hardware reopened its doors to the public for the first time since Hurricane Sandy hit.

“We opened at noon on 12/12/12 – why go to some concert when you could come down here, right?” owner Frank Bain told redbankgreen Thursday in his newly renovated shop.

Less than seven weeks ago, Bain’s store and every piece of inventory inside of it was destroyed. Now, the half of the store that is currently open looks as though it was never touched by the storm.

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SECOND ‘MOUNTAIN’ PILES UP MEMORIES

A passerby eyes debris in the Anchorage Beach parking lot, above, while a mountain of it dominates the former Peninsula House lot, below. (Photo by Wil Fulton. Click to enlarge)

By WIL FULTON

Mount Sandy, meet Mount Refuse.

Though smaller in stature, the mountain of debris occupying in Sea Bright’s old Peninsula House parking lot on Ocean Avenue is just as scene-stealing and ominous as its sand counterpart, located just a stone’s throw away. This ever-growing pile, however, won’t have onlookers climbing it or posing for closeups anytime soon.

The refuse is the accumulated result of curbside trash pickups in this Hurricane Sandy-smashed town, where residents and business owners are early on in a restoration effort.

It stands, however briefly, as a jarring, visceral reminder of the storm’s reach over porches, through doors and windows, and into rooms and closets.

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SEA BRIGHT: AMID TEARS, GUARD ROLLS OUT

Sea Bright’s tent city was largely dismantled by Friday afternoon. Below, Governor Chris Christie speaking with National Guardsmen at the site on November 9. (Photo by Wil Fulton. Click to enlarge)

By WIL FULTON

After six weeks of assisting displaced residents and first responders with everything from hot meals to extra clothes, Sea Bright’s tent city – created by the US National Guard – is leaving town.

Following a final community meal on Thursday,  National Guardsmen made their move out of the municipal parking lot around 10:30 a.m. Friday, according to Onofrio Moscato, head chef at neighboring restaurant, Woody’s Ocean Grille, Emotions were running high for the Guard as well as volunteers and residents, he said.

“The National Guard was escorted out by the Sea Bright firemen,” Moscato told redbankgreen. “They were hanging out of the windows and waving. It was a special send-off for them. Before they left, they all stood in line and made a final salute, kind of a sign that their mission here was over.”

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HOT DOG CART AND CHIC EATERY BACK IN BIZ

Hot dog seller Frances Rooney poses for a photo with admirers, including Councilwoman Peggy Bills, at right above. Below, Pat Trama in his restored restaurant. (Photo by Wil Fulton. Click to enlarge)

By WIL FULTON

One of Sea Bright’s oldest food businesses reopened this week, and one of its newest was scheduled to do so Friday night, two signs that the storm-battered town is cooking up a recovery.

Frances Rooney, affectionately known as “Grandma Hot Dog,”  fired up the gas on her cart this week and was soon attracting lines of hungry and loyal customers.

“My son was the one who really encouraged me to come back out here and start serving people again – sooner rather than later,” she told redbankgreen, “He thought it would be a comforting sight for everyone to see me back in business, up on my feet.”

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