Monday, November 26, 2012

Disaster Tourism-Sea Bright, NJ

I grew up 20-30 minutes, depending on the traffic, from Sandy Hook, NJ. Traveling down Rt. 36 to its end forces you to either go left to Sandy Hook and the beach or right onto the barrier island of Sea Bright. If you travel far enough Sea Bright turns into Long Branch and eventually, I believe, LBI. The houses in Sea Bright largely face the ocean with the river at their backs so that even in relatively mild hurricanes or nor'easters there is flooding. My father would often take us down to the beach after a hurricane to see what had changed on the beach or how Sea Bright had fared.
It is deeply sobering to see people's appliances, housing materials, clothes and other more personal materials piled in front of their houses waiting for trash pickup. It was late afternoon as we were driving around so the sun was starting to display the colors of sunset and the wind was chasing the clouds around the sky. There was a strange juxtaposition in the natural beauty of the day and the chaos of carefully purchased household items heaped in front yards and sidewalks. There is an odd aesthetic or architectural sense of awe in looking at how the storm punched out walls or moved houses off their foundation. Some of the houses missing their back or side walls seemed to have been designed that way. They are almost picturesque, framing the now-peaceful river moving in the background. This is not an attempt to diminish the loss or destruction caused by Sandy; rather, impressions received as we drove through and marveled and sorrowed.



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