Hurricane Sandy | Archive
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I think it is hard to compare Sandy to any storm, or meteorological event, in my life — at least emotionally. From a meteorological standpoint, it was a remarkable event for sure. We have published several articles with reanalysis and information, and each time we dive in to the research it becomes more obvious that what we were dealing with was truly special. Special, remarkable, and amazing are tough words to throw around when it comes to Sandy. People get offended by them, or tend to think we are using them in the wrong way — but that is never a case. The fact of the matter is, it was an amazing meteorological or global event.
On a work level, it was overwhelming. For days prior to the event we were tirelessly forecasting, and in the four or five immediate days before Sandy there was very little sleep to be had. One of the most striking moments for me, was when we lost power at my home in Scotch Plains. I had been working for almost 72 straight hours, and suddenly the power went out and the plug was pulled.
It was then, that Sandy became more personal. Suddenly, my ability to forecast — to help, contribute, relay information and save lives — had been cut off. It sounds silly, but as a meteorologist you get caught up in the work side of things, especially in big events like that. When you lose that ability, suddenly it becomes much more of a personal thing. Yes, we sustained a good amount of damage in Scotch Plains and Fanwood, but loss of life was not large — and loss of property was repairable over shorter periods of time. Being able to go down to the area shores and volunteer after the storm was a great experience, and one that I knew I needed to be involved in right away.
A year after Sandy, the memories are still very fresh. In fact, it feels like the wound hasn’t even begun to really scar over yet. But at this point, I think its prudent to take the time to aknowledge the anniversary, look back at the event — see what we did, what we could have done better. Mourn the loss and the damage. But most importantly, celebrate where we’ve come since this time a year ago. The recovery is a testament to the spirit of the people in this area. It may be bent, damaged, tested. But it won’t be broken.
Hurricane Sandy’s wrath hit my county particularly hard, turning normal lives into apocalyptic like chaos for a few weeks. As the cyclone began to veer northwest and approach the New Jersey shore, residents of Monmouth County were preparing for the worst but hoping for the best. As soon as winds intensified to 30-40mph with gusts upwards of 50mph, lights flickered, and shortly thereafter, darkness ensued. Little did we know, that was the last light we would see for 10 days, and for many, several weeks. You could hear the sound of trees blowing in the gales, branches snapping in the woods, and sirens going off down the street. It was an eerie experience watching the landscape rapidly transform from fully leafed trees to essentially barren in 12 short hours, as 60-70mph gusts stripped all vegetation. If there was a saving grace to this storm, it was the fact that rainfall ended up being unimpressive for a hurricane, with less than 2” falling in Monmouth County. However, the high storm surge, beach erosion, and wind gusts upwards of 70mph overcompensated for the lack of rain. Finally, the event wound down, and the crazy aftermath began.
Most towns in western Monmouth County, including my town, do not have municipal water supply, as they are well water based. Therefore, most of my family and friends did not have runningwater for 10 days or so, which meant no showers either. Food stores were overcrowded with people stocking up on bottled water; it was like the preparation for a blizzard, only exponentially worse. Gas station lines were incredibly long, and many folks decided to travel over an hour away from the area just to fill up. These issues might seem trivial compared to the people in coastal Monmouth County. Sea Bright was hit especially hard, as many businesses, including beach clubs, were decimated. Structural damage to buildings was common all along the coast from Union Beach, Keyport, eastward through Keansburg, Sea Bright, and down the shore to Manasquan. Some of these folks did not have a home or sturdy building to return to. Many were without work due to the destruction of their businesses.
Overall, Hurricane Sandy was a traumatic, unforgettable, wild experience for most people in Monmouth County, and for most along the entire New Jersey shore. With that being said, the rebuilding process began quickly, and the area along the coast is significantly improved from 12 months ago, though with plenty of work yet to do. Hopefully, a worst case scenario like Hurricane Sandy does not happen again in the near future.