SEA BRIGHT REOPENS TO OUTSIDERS

As seen in two views along Ocean Avenue Wednesday morning, passenger vehicles must share the road with earth movers, backhoes and dumptrucks. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

After more than two weeks in lockdown to everyone but residents and restoration workers, Sea Bright took down the barricades Wednesday morning.

With the opening of checkpoints at the Rumson Road entry to town and the northern and southern borders on Ocean Avenue, traffic was trickling through the narrow sandbar borough shortly after dawn.

The Rumson-Sea Bright Bridge drawbridge was also back in service, having had its electricity shut off as a precautionary measure in advance of Hurricane Sandy.

Now, officials are bracing for a possible influx of gawkers eager to eyeball the destroyed beach clubs and downtown up close.

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CHRISTIE SHINES A SPOTLIGHT ON SEA BRIGHT

Prompted by a request from Mayor Dina Long and Councilman Read Murphy to keep Ocean Avenue closed to through traffic, Governor Chris Christie summons his transportation secretary during a visit to the borough Friday. Below, Christie tours a National Guard galley set up as part of a relief camp. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

On the first day since Hurricane Sandy that building contractors were allowed into town, Governor Christie Christie visited Sea Bright Friday to call attention to the lingering devastation along New Jersey’s coastline as the rest of the state staggers back toward normalcy.

Touring an encampment of National Guard tents erected in the municipal parking lot to serve emergency volunteers, utility contractors and, soon, residents, Christie said there’s a lot of work to do at the Shore, and no one should expect it all to be completed by Memorial Day.

“By Monday, I think, things are going to be, for most people in the state, back to normal,” he told borough Engineer Jaclyn Flor in an impromptu chat. But for hard-hit places like Sea Bright, “first we have to sit down and talk about what we want normal to be, and what you want it to look like, and then we have to go to the federal government and say to them we need some money to get it that way.”

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SEA BRIGHT READIES FOR RESIDENTS’ RETURN

Aided by the Army, volunteers have built an encampment of tents to serve food and provide other necessities to Sea Brighters when they’re allowed back into town. Restaurateur Chris Wood, below, unloads supplies. (Photos by Wil Fulton. Click to enlarge)

By WIL FULTON

Outside a mobile kitchen, a National Guardsman chows down a hot dog before helping young volunteers unload boxes of supplies from a tractor trailer in the heart of a newly erected tent city that’s taken shape in the heart of Sea Bright.

With regulation Army tents, Humvees, makeshift kitchens and grills, the parking lot next door to the borough firehouse is looking more like a refugee camp than the slice of summer heaven that draws thousands of visitors each summer.

But the camp has been built in anticipation of an influx not of tourists but of exiled Sea Brighters, who’ve been shut out of their town since leaving under a mandatory evacuation order in advance of Hurricane Sandy.

Chris Wood, owner of Woody’s Ocean Grille, who has spearheaded an effort to feed first responders, relief workers and volunteers, plans to expand the effort exponentially when residents and contractors begin moving back to town, perhaps as early as Monday.

“We’re going to have it all,” Wood said Thursday, while unloading some boxes himself, “three hot meals a day to anyone who needs them, and a veritable Wal-Mart of supplies and clothing, available to anyone and everyone that needs them.”

Beginning Friday, residents and business owners were to be allowed into the sequestered town on a day basis only, accompanied by contractors, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., said Mayor Dina Long. Also on Friday, Governor Chris Christie was expected to make an 11 a.m. stop in town “to thank the heroes on the ground,” she said.

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SEA BRIGHT SHAKES OFF NORTHEASTER

U.S. Army soldiers setting up mess tents in Sea Bright next to the firehouse Thursday to serve work crews and, starting next week, returning residents.  (Photo by Chris Wood. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Sea Bright experienced nothing more than “typical street flooding” from the Shrewsbury River during Wednesday night’s northeaster, Mayor Dina Long tells redbankgreen.

“It was a quiet night in Sea Bright” with no additional damage to homes and businesses in the hurricane-shattered town, Long said Thursday. Heavy-duty work on streets and utilities aimed at bringing the sandbar municipality back to life has resumed, she said.

That work is now expected to be advanced enough to allow residents to return to their homes next Monday – assuming that Governor Chris Christie first lifts the mandatory evacuation order he issued in advance of Hurricane Sandy, Long said.

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SEA BRIGHT: SHOCK AND DISMAY AT DAMAGE

A home on the Shrewsbury River side of Sea Bright showed the height of the flooding on Saturday. Below, a resident leaves a shuttle bus with recovered belongings on Monday, assisted by Councilman James LoBiondo. (Click to enlarge)

By WIL FULTON

One resident fled with nothing but his paycheck. A young couple stayed, fleeing with their two-year-old child only after watching a hurricane tear their town apart.

This week, they and other Sea Brighters began getting their first glimpses of the destructive power of Hurricane Sandy, which many of them had anticipated would blow past this sandbar town much as another storm did nearly 14 months earlier.

“I thought it would be a situation like Irene, where it turned out to be not much of a big deal,” Jim Paustian said Tuesday, as he and his family took photos outside their East New Street home, which is now uninhabitable.  “I even almost decided to stay. Now, I’m sure glad I didn’t.”

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MIXED AFTERMATH AMONG SEA BRIGHT HOMES

Wine lover Kevin Corbett recovered all his wine, as well as his golf clubs, from his riverside house, which is slated for demolition. Two doors away, the year-old home of Beatrix and Paul Patton saw little damage.  Click to enlarge)

By WIL FULTON

With a backhoe in his front yard and an orange “5” spray-painted across the face of his house, Kevin Corbett hustled out from his rear deck, a bottle of ’82 Petrus in hand, attempting to use the little time he had to save the things he values most: wine, golf clubs and clothes.

As the backhoe’s claw yanked at a wire strung from what’s left of his Ocean Avenue house, Corbett seemed surprisingly unfazed about entering a precarious structure Monday afternoon.

“It’s beat up out front,” he said with a laugh, “but it’s fine in the back.”

Hundreds of Sea Bright Residents made a brief return home on Monday afternoon to find varying levels of damage inflicted on their households. In some instances, houses that made it out of the storm relatively unscathed were juxtaposed against a neighbor’s residence lying in ruins.

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UPSTAIRS? NADA. DOWNSTAIRS? UTILITY POLE

It sounded a bit like an urban myth, but redbankgreen can now confirm it: Hurricane Sandy tossed a telephone pole into one of the units at the Anchorage Apartments in Sea Bright last week.

Upstairs tenants Melissa Enna and John Summonte, right, visited their unit Monday morning and found “not even a cracked window,” said Enna. Other than the fact that the lower part of their staircase is gone, “it looks like nothing ever happened,” she said.

Downstairs, not so lucky. Where the pole came from wasn’t yet known, but the apartment, which overlooks the Shrewsbury River, had been badly flooded. (Click to enlarge)

STORM SURGE LAYS WASTE TO LITTLE SILVER

Mountains of sopping wet insulation sat discarded on either side of Lippincott Road in Little Silver Friday. (Click to enlarge)

In Little Silver, numerous homes were badly damaged or left uninhabitable by Hurricane Sandy on Monday night, officials said.

At her future in-laws’ home on Little Silver Point Road, Erica Marsh, of Red Bank, said the furniture had been raised up off the floor before the storm, but a surge of water from the creek in their backyard entered the house and pushed it all to one side, blocking the front door.

“They were ready for some water, but not waves and floating pianos,” she told redbankgreen.

A 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. curfew remains in effect in town, and checkpoints have been set up at Gooseneck Bridge and Seven Bridge Road, as well as entries to flood zone neighborhoods, according to a posting on the borough website.

More Little Silver photos after the jump…

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SEA BRIGHT: A WALK THROUGH THE WRECKAGE

A compilation of photos assembled into a video by someone identified on YouTube as ‘Chris M” documents a walk north into Sea Bright on Tuesday, the day after Hurricane Sandy caused widespread damage in the coastal town. (Click to enlarge)

A SOLSTICE SUNRISE

5:43 a.m.: Sunrise amid gauzy cloud cover, as seen from Sea Bright’s public beach. (Photo by Danielle Tepper. Click to enlarge)

Today, the Summer of 2012 bares a toothy grin – but watch out for those gnarly incisors.

A heat advisory from the National Weather Service is in effect as temperatures are expected to soar into the mid-90s along the Green.

redbankgreen will be out on the streets of our towns today, chasing the sun – Sol Searching, as we call it – on the longest day of the year, the summer solstice in the Northern Hemisphere. (Be sure to refresh your browser if you haven’t seen our temporary masthead, above).

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