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restore the shore the story of super storm sandy

a GOLDEN CHILDREN production temple university photojournalism Š2012

restore the shore

To the victims, families, residents and survivors of the storm This one’s for you, New Jersey.

Brigantine, New Jersey


Contents Part I : The Destruction

-Atlantic city, nj- 17 -Brigantine, nj- 33 -Long Beach Island, nj- 57 -Ocean City, NJ- 85 -Seaside Heights, nj- 99 -Atlantic Highlands, NJ- 113

Part II : The Untouched 131 Part III : Rebuilding

-Outside Organizations- -Locals- -Relief-

Part IV : Sentiments 183

145 157 167

“The devastation we’ve seen over the last week is not something that can be rebuilt overnight. And I have to tell you a hard truth, next summer is not going to be like last summer.” -Governor Chris Christie


Part I: THe Destruction


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Atlantic City


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Long Beach Island


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Ocean City


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Seaside heights


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Atlantic highlands


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The Untouched


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outside organizations


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Local volunteers


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Danielle Parsons I have to admit, when I first heard a hurricane was coming I thought nothing of it. Hurricane Irene was perceived to be one of the worst storms in history and there was minor flooding, if that. My parents took the necessary precautions and prepared our Ocean City, NJ house for Irene. Our backyard had a couple of inches of water but we were thankful that was it. It seemed like more of a headache than it really was worth. My family heeded the warning for Sandy and prepared the shore house, but as the weekend went on and “frankenstorm” snuck up on us it suddenly became real that this was no joke. Sunday rolled around and I found myself glued to every news source my phone and television I could access. I decided to head home to Bucks County to be with my family; Mayor Nutter declared Philadelphia in a state of emergency and the last thing I wanted was to be by myself through it all. When I arrived at my parents’ house I immediately went straight to the living room and I couldn’t believe what I saw; the ocean had met the bay across the coast of New Jersey and my heart sank. New Jersey has been my second home my whole life, especially the shore. About a year and a half ago, my father surprised my mother by purchasing a home in Ocean City. It had been my mothers dream to have a home down the shore but we could never afford it. My family had been through a lot financially since I could remember, and I know my father worked very hard. The thought of it washing away was devastating. The look on my mothers face when she saw the footage on the news is something I will never forget. Seeing a parent cry is one of the worst feelings in the world. Helplessness had set in; this was out of our hands. All anyone could do was wait. It was one of the first times prayed in six years. The next day my mother and I sat on the couch together all day watching every news channel that was broadcasting the storm in hopes we could maybe somehow see our house. Upon all the sulking, I realized how lucky I was to be sitting in my home, with my family safe and sound. If we lost the shore house we could rebuild. People had lost everything, even loved ones. We were safe, alive, and well; we had each other and that was enough. This project is something I did not take lightly. People had lost everything, towns that were once lively three months ago were in ruins, and lives were lost. I wanted to cover as many shore towns across the coast as I could. Everyone town had a story to tell and I wanted to make sure they were told in the best way possible. One of the many things I took away from this experience was never to take anything for granted. It’s very easy to do whether people like to admit it or not. You’re used to things always being a certain way, never thinking tomorrow could be a completely different story. The tri-state area only took 24 hours to change forever. 184

“It was one of the first times I prayed in

six years.�

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“At that point I knew that what I should expect was the worst , and to be honest, that’s what I saw.” 186

Courtney marabella After tropical storm Sandy hit a few weeks ago, like most people, I turned to the news stations for coverage. I watched the videos, I looked at the pictures, I read the stories, and all of them were devastating. However, it was devastating to me in the same way that events like Hurricane Katrina or the earthquake in Haiti were; it made me sad, and I felt horrible for the people involved, but I was also very far removed from it. That really changed this past weekend when I visited the shore with some of my classmates. On our first day we visited Atlantic City and Brigantine, and in a way it was like we were subconsciously easing ourselves in. Atlantic City seemed practically untouched, aside from some construction crews rebuilding the jetties on the beach. Brigantine was worse. The beach was practically gone in some areas, and houses along the shore suffered intense damage; one house looked like it had caught on fire while an entire apartment building on the beach was condemned. And although the houses more inland weren’t as obviously damaged, the piles of trash lying on the street outside of them indicated that they had suffered losses as well. And then there was Long Beach Island, our last stop of the trip. At first I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect- I had heard that the island was in pretty bad shape- but as we approached the bridge to the island I was given a pretty large indicator in the form of three boats laying on the side of the highway. At that point I knew that what I should expect was the worst, and to be honest, that’s what I saw. There were beach front houses with the bottom portions completely torn away; the piles of sand were reminiscent of snow after a blizzard; debris was everywhere- at one point we saw a water heater just lying in someone’s driveway; houses were knocked off of their foundations, and in one case, a houses chimney was on the ground in shambles next to it. There were literally boats everywhere; on the side of the highway, on peoples front lawns, overturned on docks, there was even one boat that had crashed into the back of a house. But the thing that really got to me was walking along the beach and the bay, and seeing red slips of condemnation on almost every single house. It’s just devastating because you know, standing there looking at those structures, that someone may have saved their entire life to buy that house, that some people may have spent every summer of their lives there, or that now, they had nowhere to go because that house was their permanent residence. But in the wake of disaster you do end up seeing the best in people, and thankfully for the people on the island (and our emotions that day) there were relief workers, from the Red Cross, stationed there, helping as best they could to get residents back on their feet by handing out hot meals, snacks, blankets, flashlights, etc. There was even an ice cream truck there, giving out free ice cream. What I really got out of this experience is that in some cases, you can’t really rely on the news or pictures or video to gauge your understanding of a situation. And I feel silly saying that since I am a photojournalist, and my job is to take those pictures that will tell the story, but like I said earlier, that still makes me feel far removed from a situation. Sometimes, I feel, you really need to experience it, even if it’s just once, because that will stay with you and give you an idea of what situations like this really entail. In this case I am kind of glad that this was accessible enough for me to go see, first hand, what had happened. Being there, seeing all of the destruction, and the Red Cross stationed there, really put in perspective that this stuff does happen, and not just in far away places where it can’t affect me, but anywhere, even an hour away. And as scary as that is, it really is something to be aware of. We can’t distance ourselves from disasters and say that they don’t happen where we’re from, that they only happen to other people, because at some point in time they’ll come knocking at our doors. 187 restore the shore

Shayna Kleinberg How do you describe a natural disaster? Catastrophic, moving, devastating, destructive and upsetting are a few ways to begin. Visiting the shore after Hurricane Sandy I was expecting tragedy at every turn, destruction on every block and images of people crying over ruined shore houses. To my surprise, having visited the island of Atlantic City one week after the storm, there was not much damage done or problems left. The streets were covered in sand, but other than that, the shore mansions stayed in perfect condition. Longport and Margate looked next to spotless, like a rainstorm had come through and done very little damage besides moving some sand around. As I got closer to Atlantic City and the houses got smaller, the more damage I saw. Although the beach had been covered with debris and trash at one point, as I stood before the sandy shores it looks immaculate, as clear as the skies that glowed above the ground. Mounds of sand had already been piled up and the towns had been restored. However, not everything was back to normal. The entire shopping strip on Ventnor Ave in Margate was gone. All of the stores had completely evacuated their belongings and left most of it on the street. Nostalgic ice cream shops withered to nothing but a sign saying “Closed�. Even though Sandy caused a lot of problems and expenses, I have a great feeling that the store will be fully restored by the time summer rolls around. In a summer town, store owners must feel a little better knowing that there is still plenty of time to restore the shops before the summer rush comes back around. It will be a long, stressful journey and only time will tell if the towns will be the same come next summer. People are working together to clean the beach and fix the sidewalks and put the pieces back together. As I witnessed the damage done to the towns I could only be grateful of the level of damage done, for it could’ve been much, much worse. In times of natural disasters you see a great deal of fear in everyone. Words to remember from hurricane Sandy; caution, danger and fear. In the end, even though parts of the Atlantic City boardwalk were destroyed, heaping piles of trash lined the streets and many stores were completely evacuated, we can look to our neighbors and society for a helping hand and appreciate the situations that unify us as mankind, putting hand to hand to help give relief and as a community, revive a damaged town. It is in these circumstances that the good in people comes out and we can see what we are really made of.


“In times of natural disasters you see a great deal of in everyone.�


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“All I was accustomed to was New England winters that were brisk yet manageable.�


Indira jimenez Hurricanes were always a weird thing for me. I grew up hearing about how my family would bunker down for hurricanes left and right when they still lived in the DR. They may have felt and known the true reign of Mother Nature, all I was accustomed to was New England winters that were brisk yet manageable. When Katrina hit, I felt for the people of New Orleans and the areas around the Big Weezy, but still, I was disassociated from the reality of the storm. When Sandy hit, I hate to say, I was once again unaware of the intensity of what had happened. While I was bunkering down with friends and looking forward to no classes for two days, I was oblivious to the disaster that claimed the Eastern seaboard. On top of all that, 48 hours before Sandy hit, I was enjoying a girls trip with my mother in Brooklyn, never expecting that the beautiful promenade of Brooklyn Heights that we were exploring would be submerged by Sandy. It wasn’t until I visited the shore towns of Ocean City, Brigantine, and Seaside Heights that I would understand the reality of Sandy, and it’s something that can’t be ignored. Household items that we all take for granted were destroyed and left at the side of the road to be taken away, homes were cast away like trash, and the beloved boardwalks of the Jersey coastline were pounded to sandy abysses. Now it’s time for action: our project will help document, capture, and inform the public good of the reality of Sandy.

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Charlotte jacobson Hurricane. Super storm. Natural disaster. Tropical Storm. Too many words can describe a single event without truly understanding what it means. Hurricane Floyd was the first big storm I remember living through. As a seven-year-old, images of the creek overflowing onto my street are ingrained in my mind, and reappear every time a hurricane is scheduled to hit the coast. Hearing about disasters like Hurricane Katrina and the Tsunami in Japan affected me, but did not hit home because they took place so far away and no one I knew was personally affected. But after living through Hurricane Faye when I was in Florida, and Hurricane Irene in Philadelphia, I felt like the hurricanes I encountered would not be massively destructive. Then along came Sandy. I won’t lie, the news broadcasts declaring how damaging the “super storm” was going to be, had me nervous. But then it was over. Philadelphia was hit with no more than heavy rain, wind, and power outages. It wasn’t until I turned on the TV and saw the destruction that the Jersey shore and New York suffered that I realized how much impact the storm really had on those residents. When we decided to travel to the shore and cover the disaster and relief, I knew it was going to be an emotional ride. It is in my personality to feel for people. But I didn’t expect myself to strike up a conversation with a summer resident in Long Beach Island and have my heart sink into my stomach when he told me about the water that flooded several blocks inland from the beach. I didn’t expect to find myself climbing into a home destroyed by a boat thrown into the side of the house. And I never expected to find myself crying over a burnt, condemned home in Brigantine, New Jersey. The destruction throughout the shore towns was unreal. Places I had seen before on vacation looked like they had been moved into another world. I will never shake the visions of homeowners dumping all of their belongings onto the sidewalk. It’s sad that it takes a disaster for some people to reach out and help their neighbors. But the relief gave me so much hope. The ice cream man handing out free ice cream to put a smile on a child’s face who lost everything. The Red Cross dishing out free hot meals for people to bring home to their families. Even the group of volunteers from as far as Georgia who put together bags of clothes for anyone who needed them was amazing. After witnessing such kindness, I have faith that over time it will recover and rebuild to the glory of the New Jersey shore.


“I will never shake the visions of homeowners dumping all of their belongings onto the sidewalk.�

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“Some of the mental images and photographs I returned with looked like something out of a horrible nightmare that none of us could wake up from.�


Patrick Mcpeak After hearing the news from my brother and uncle that our shore houses were fine, I almost started tuning out all of the Sandy news as it was happening. I did think the images were shocking but I was no where near prepared to face the reality of the situation when Marissa, Courtney, Charlotte and I finally made it down to the town I called my summer home for so many years. The devastation was very real and very apparent. It took a lot to stomach some of the things we saw on that ride in. Being a sailor myself and spending a significant amount of my childhood down the shore in Longport, it is really tough for me to react to the Sandy aftermath without a lot of emotion. Going onto Long Beach Island on Sunday morning was one of the tougher things I’ve done as a journalist. Some of the mental images and photographs I returned with looked like something out of a horrible nightmare that none of us could wake up from. Surreal and shocking, most of us walked around with our jaws agape for most of the day surveying what we had known and loved as the Jersey Shore. It was heart warming to see the outreach of organizations that were there to help the victims but I still couldn’t help but feel they were very dissonant to the real struggle of those who have called the island their home for so many years. As journalists, we are ethically bound to not interfere with our surroundings and just report on what is going on but as human being were are ethically bound to help others in need. This assignment has been the toughest so far in my career as a journalist and I am sure that it will stand as the toughest for a while. Not only was it physically demanding trying to cover as much as we could in a few short days, the real demand was mentally and emotionally. Almost as if viewing these incredible nightmarish images, sucked the souls right out of us.

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Marissa nicole pina The Jersey Shore was always my second home, I grew up in Point Pleasant and spent my summers in Long Beach Island. My friends and family still live at the shore, naturally when Hurricane Sandy was projected to hit the coast I was sent into a panic. I had heard of the damage from my family after all was said and done, and of course seen some of the images on the news once my own family regained power, but nothing prepared me for what I was going to see when I traveled back to the shore this weekend. The towns I once knew were rendered completely unrecognizable by strong winds and massive flooding. The homes of my friends and relatives all deemed unfit for residence. Walking up and down streets I had walked enumerable times had been littered with debris, 4 foot sand piles, and furniture and carpets from the homes that lined them. I was in utter disbelief that this was the same place I had once known. I think the most disturbing part of it all was the somber nature of the shore towns. I had never seen the islands so dark, deserted, nor heard them be so virtually silent. The quiet shook me to my core. When there wasn’t complete silence, I heard cries and yells from residents I had once sunbathed alongside with in the summer. I heard the unnatural hum of machinery where I once heard the ocean crashing against the jetties. The storm had completely destroyed the shore and I was in the middle of it, thinking back to the people back in Pennsylvania who claimed that Hurricane Sandy was overhyped and that it wasn’t even that devastating. The utter truth was that Sandy crushed a path down the Jersey shore that crippled the towns and the residents who called these places home. When I spoke with those who managed to find the words, I realized that this storm had really altered the lives of hundreds, if not thousands. As a journalist, I tried to muster the courage to speak to those gutting their homes or those who were picking up supplies from the Red Cross, but I found it hard to put together the right words. Most people did not want to talk and after all that I had seen I did not get flustered or upset with the lack of interviews I was able to take. I had spoken to most off the record and even then I realized this was far too soon, too much of a devastating topic to just share with a passing stranger. The raw emotion that I felt from the residents who did take their time to exchange a few fleeting words was indescribable. These people had lost everything and yet none seem to harbor any anger or resentment. It was beautiful to witness the communities unite and try to put the pieces back together, to rebuild what once was their homes, their lives. I will forever be altered by what Hurricane Sandy left in her wake but I feel a sense of pride for where I come from and the strength of the people who live there.


“I had never seen the islands so dark, deserted, nor heard them be so virtually silent.�

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restore the shore Team Leader Danielle Parsons

Book Design Patrick McPeak Marissa Nicole Pina

Photo Credits Danielle Parsons Courtney Marabella Charlotte Jacobson Marissa Nicole Pina Patrick McPeak Mike Wojcik Indira Jimenez Shayna Kleinberg Alex Udowenko Nickee Plaksen Kelsey Dubinsky

Copy Editing Marissa Nicole Pina

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Photojournalism trip to cover Hurricane Sandy in New Jersey