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.
Chris Wood, as seen in a video, above, and Mayor Dina Long, below, at Saturday night’s event, which raised $130,000 for Sea Bright Rising. (Photo by Wil Fulton. Click to enlarge)
By WIL FULTON
A hotel in Long Branch was transformed into a showcase of the areas best culinary talents Saturday night, courtesy of the charity organization Sea Bright Rising and the generosity of local vendors and restaurant owners.
Complete with a live band, charity auction and a video showcasing the relief effort, the sold-out gala, dubbed The Big Beach Bash, raised almost $130,000 for Sea Brights recovery from Hurricane Sandy, according to the charity groups Facebook page.
But the real story of the event was perhaps best told by the restaurateurs and merchants whose tables lined the walls of the ballroom of the Ocean Place Resort and Spa. Many were Sea Bright business owners trying to help rebuild their broken beach community joined by owners from neighboring towns looking to lend a hand to friends in need.
Over the lively the noise and, redbankgreen spoke with some of these participating businesses, and heres what they had to say:
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 Bains Hardware, Woodys 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.
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 stones throw away. This ever-growing pile, however, wont 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.
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 Brights 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, Woodys 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.
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.
A 33-minute video about Hurricane Sandy by a Rumson-Fair Haven Regional student caught the attention of the rock band Train, which will play an acoustic show in Sea Bright as a result, NJ.com reported Wednesday.
Sixteen-year-old Charlotte Nagy videotaped conditions in Sea Bright and Rumson before, during and after the October 29 storm, and folded the band’s music into her production. Now, the San Francisco-based band is planning to play a private show for residents, first responders and their families next week, with the performance to be aired on on VH1 Christmas Day, the website of the Star-Ledger reports.
The effort will spotlight the efforts of Sea Bright Rising, a nonprofit devoted to the general recovery of the town of Sea Bright and care for its residents in the interim.
Frank Bain outside his Ocean Avenue hardware store, where all the inventory was destroyed in Hurricane Sandy. (Photo by Wil Fulton. Click to enlarge)
By WIL FULTON
This isnt a competition,” said a stone-faced Frank Bain, when asked if his would be the first business to reopen in Sea Bright after Hurricane Sandy.
But checking in on recent activity at Bain’s Hardware, a visitor might conclude that not only was Bain in a race, but one that his life depended on winning.
One late afternoon last week, the Ocean Avenue storefront was a swarm of dust-encrusted laborers, some installing new subflooring even as others continued with interior demolition work. At one point, an impromptu crew, Bain included, picked up and hustled the pieces of a shattered street lamp from the sidewalk out front to the side of the building.
Make no mistake about it: Bain is in a major hurry. With no flood insurance and every item in his 65,000-SKU shop destroyed, his economic life hangs in the balance, he’s the first to admit. “Getting that register ringing again is paramount,” he told redbankgreen.
But he’s driven just as much, he said, by the importance of his store to other businesses and homeowners who themselves are faced with rebuilding challenges. We are out here working so that we can get back on our feet and help this town as soon as humanly possible, he said.
Rachel Pedersen and Carolyn Rigby on the Sea Bright sandpile, which attracts dog-walkers and other sightseers. (Click to enlarge)
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.
Montclair State University student Noah Smith interviews owners of some of the hardest-hit businesses in Sea Bright and the volunteers who spent last weekend helping them out. (Thanks to Debbie Galant of the New Jersey News Commons for passing this along.)
The mayor and council of Sea Bright took to the stage of the Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank Monday night to accommodate a crowd that would not have fit into the town’s borough hall. (Photo by Wil Fulton. Click to enlarge)
By WIL FULTON
It was anything but business as usual for Sea Bright residents as they gathered for their borough council’s bimonthly meeting Monday night.
Stoked by concerns that their homes and businesses might not be rebuilt in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy’s extensive damage, dozens filled seats near the stage at Red Banks Count Basie Theatre to pepper elected officials with questions about everything from stray transformers to the fate of their town.
Here’s a compelling video made in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Shot by Adam Worth of Asbury Park, it includes footage of Sea Bright and the Red Bank-based Rebuild/Recover effort. Worth also made a fascinating time-lapse video of Hurricane Irene in 2011.
Cono Trezza in his newly built pizzeria last February, and as it appeared five days after the storm, below. (Photo below by Peter Lindner. Click to enlarge)
By WIL FULTON
For owners of Sea Bright businesses damaged by Hurricane Sandy, the rebuilding process has just begun. As they assess the damages and take steps toward the recovery of their livelihoods, each has his or her own distinct post-Sandy tale to tell. redbankgreen spoke to four of them this week about their plans in the aftermath of the cataclysmic events that ravaged through their beach community. Here are their stories.
Sea Bright Pizza: Cono Trezza faces an uphill battle, like most property owners in Sea Bright, though he is meeting it with spirit and vigor that some might find surprising, given the state of his business.
I want to get back as soon as possible, Trezza said. If my ovens were working right now Id start cooking pizzas for everyone that’s out here.
Bulldozers redistributing sand recovered from the streets of Sea Bright on the borough beach Wednesday morning. Below, contractor Mike Stavola with Governor Chris Christie last week. (Click to enlarge)
By JOHN T. WARD
It’s been dubbed ‘Mount Sandy,’ and in its enormity, it looms as one of many reminders of the woes inflicted on Sea Bright by Hurricane Sandy on October 29.
We’re talking about a pile of sand so wide and tall upwards of 60 feet, says the contractor who built it that it blocks the view of the ocean from nearly any spot in the municipal beach parking lot.
But the sandpile also stands as a gritty reminder of the rapid progress being made in restoring out the town, while prompting questions about the future of the beaches.