It’s worse than I expected. I saw all the news reports about Super Storm Sandy on TV, of course, and talked with friends and family about their experiences. But that didn’t prepare me for what I’m seeing. Actually standing amid the ruin is an entirely different experience than seeing it on the news.
One of my first stops today is Mantoloking, N.J. a place considered by many to be “ground zero” for the storm. I walk along the coastline, with its pristine white Jersey sand and fresh tracks from the heavy equipment used to groom the beach. But right next to the perfect beaches of my childhood are huge piles of debris. No, wait — that’s wrong. The debris isn’t next to the beach, it is on top of it. There is no “land” here; it’s all beach. It’s all sand, broken up in places by asphalt or stones or wooden decks, but under that, it’s just more sand. And the piles aren’t debris – they are entire houses, or what’s left of them. You know it’s a house because, well, what else could it be? You can see the roof, the doors, the wires, and the furniture. But it’s all mixed up and tangled. It’s deeply unsettling.
And it’s everywhere. House after house destroyed, piled up like yard waste after a spring cleanup. The houses that aren’t completely shredded are tilting or cracked, in some unnatural state. And they are all deserted, even the ones that appear intact. If they didn’t fall down or get washed away they took on water. They’re uninhabitable. Where are the people
It’s a sad day.