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Florence brings memories of surviving Sandy

Seaside+Boardwalk+right+after+Sandy+then+4+years+later
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Florence brings memories of surviving Sandy

Seaside Boardwalk right after Sandy then 4 years later

Seaside Boardwalk right after Sandy then 4 years later

Amanda Field

Seaside Boardwalk right after Sandy then 4 years later

Amanda Field

Amanda Field

Seaside Boardwalk right after Sandy then 4 years later

By Amanda Field, Tunstall High School

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On October 29, 2012, Superstorm Sandy hit the state of New Jersey.  With Florence’s early forecast projected to hit Danville hard, the flashbacks kept vividly playing through my mind.

When I was 11 years old, I experienced my first hurricane. Although it was not classified as a hurricane when reaching New Jersey, the damage it left was enough proof to show how dangerous one storm could be.

It was around 8 p.m. when the lights started to flicker. Our television had already gone out. We sat in the middle of the house prepared, unlike many. The hair-raising sound of wind was louder than the sonic boom. All around us was rain and wind. We were trapped with nothing but our phones and radio at this point.

It was like being imprisoned by the unknown.

Thankfully, my mom is an avid weather researcher and became prepared the day the storm was announced to hit us. Not many people thought of it as a “big deal” since it would not be a hurricane when it hit. They were all proven wrong. No amount of water stashed away could have prepare the communities for this. The boarded up windows for the forces of this demon like storm. No weatherman could have predicted the destruction that was coming our way.

It was around 10 p.m. when the house went dark. It was almost like being in a horror film. Our immediate reaction was to turn on all of the sticky lights in my mom’s oversized tote and scatter them in all the right places. This gave us the ideal living space until the end of the storm.

The dimly lit room with board games stretched out from one side of the room to the other had gotten all too familiar. Everything had started feeling closed in. One more second stuck within the four walls would have been a second too long. It was time to venture out and find some place to go.

Even when the wind slowed down and the torrential downpour turned into a drizzle, the worst was yet to come.

We slowly looked around our small town to see the damage, which was only the beginning of our discoveries. Familiar roads turned into what looked like a rain forest with the amount of trees and branches that had fallen to the ground. Arriving at our final destination, I had laid eyes on the most heartbreaking sight to this day.

Seaside Boardwalk, home of the famous Jersey Shore TV show and my favorite summer destination, had been torn to pieces. I sat in shock as the news talked about all of the damage that this simple storm caused. The famous Star Jet roller coaster was placed into the ocean with little to no damage, as if Sandy was taunting us.  I was completely mortified as my phone flooded with texts about friends with damage to their homes. Their safe place had been invaded with large trees crushing right through their roofs. It was like everything had to start over. It was a fresh start.

On November 21, 2012, my mom and I spent our Thanksgiving in a small beach town to help with the damage caused.

It was more than an eye opener for my juvenile mind. I had the opportunity to talk to innocent people and for them to share their stories and what they have to deal with following the aftermath of Sandy.

“I had searched up and down every road in a thirty block radius to find something of mine. I gave up and decided to go home, when I found my mailbox. I always took this mailbox for granted until this day. I just sat and cried. All I had left was this rusted mailbox, and I couldn’t be more blessed,” said one lady I had conversed with that day.

As our day of debri clean up and furniture chasing came to an end we decided to make a stop by Seaside.

To this day, I had never seen my mom cry so much in one day. The realization hit me like a wave. It was gone. The mental caution tape separated us from moving a step closer. We stood there, taking it all in. This storm had ripped up so many families homes, took away our vacation destination, and changed all our lives forever.

On June 24, 2016, I visited Seaside Beach while visiting back home.

I stood on the same steps from November, observing all of the happy families with their children walking along the reconstructed boardwalk. A million and one emotions were jumping around my brain. I felt proud. I felt strong.

I cried.

If you ever take a trip to Seaside, you will pass a store called “Jersey Strong,” which includes all things Jersey. When you enter, check out the pieces of wood from the original boardwalk, or the magnet of the Star Jet.

Superstorm Sandy came through and tried her best to tear us down. Fortunately, all she did was show how everyone else strong we are as a state: Jersey Strong.

This story was originally published on Trojan Messenger on September 18, 2018.

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