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.
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.”
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 Woodys 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.
Were 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.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has posted aerial shots of Sea Bright before and after Hurricane Sandy struck on October 29 that show dramatic change in terms of sand coverage of town. Click to enlarge, or go here for even better views of Sea Bright and other New Jersey shore towns.
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.
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, Im sure glad I didn’t.
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 backhoes claw yanked at a wire strung from whats left of his Ocean Avenue house, Corbett seemed surprisingly unfazed about entering a precarious structure Monday afternoon.
Its beat up out front,” he said with a laugh, but its 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 neighbors residence lying in ruins.
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)
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.
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)