Riding out the storm in Seaside Heights - New York News

Hurricane Sandy

Riding out the storm in Seaside Heights

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His feet were bare and his hair was tangled, but he was alive. The man sat in the back of a large military vehicle on his way to safety. A few hours earlier, he was trapped inside his home in Seaside Heights and wasn't sure he would survive. From the back of the truck he looked out dazed as others who were in similar circumstances boarded the vehicle.

Their lives were threatened and homes likely ruined because of rising flood water from Hurricane Sandy.

Coordinating the efforts for rescue were the men and women of the Seaside Heights Volunteer Fire Department, the local police department, state poi lice, and Ocean County emergency management. 

Tim Farrell wore scuba gear and dive equipment. He was one of the volunteers who dove into the water, swam up to people's homes, climbed inside, and pulled them to safety. Humbly he told me: "We'll work all night."

The team rescued more than 100 people who did not follow mandatory evacuation orders and were later trapped as the Atlantic Ocean surged and met with Barnegat Bay, submerging the peninsula, swallowing up everything in its path.

This was day 2 after Hurricane Sandy made landfall in Atlantic City, 45 miles south of Seaside Heights. 

Our crew was staying at a motel across from the fire department. The power was out and we were running low on fuel and food. Photojournalists Patrick Horan and Ryan Priest worked tirelessly, gathering footage on the ground of the destruction so we could send it out for our viewers. 

We saw the top portion of a home, severed from its base, in the middle of a street after getting caught up in the flood water, deep layers of sand-caked streets near the boardwalk, and some exposed gas lines that spewed noisily as dazed residents seemed to walk by unsure of where to go or what to do.

And then there was the boardwalk: this piece of New Jersey history was battered, bruised and beaten by the storm surge. The Casino Pier took some of the worst damage. The roller coaster and amusements now lie in the Atlantic Ocean not far from the Ferris wheel, the wooden foundation and pillars they once stood on, splintered and in pieces washed ashore on the beach. It's just one example. 

Shredded. It is a word that comes to mind when I think of other businesses damaged and destroyed, costing owners millions of dollars. 

As a Montclair, N.J., guy who used to come to the Heights and shore after the Senior and Junior proms, I was depressed to see the devastation.

Gov. Chris Christie said the state will rebuild and recover. I believe him. It won't be easy.

One final note: thank you to the Seaside Original Steakhouse. We rode out the storm inside while the walls shook, the storm roared, and the Atlantic Ocean crept through as we waited and watched.

Sandy, an unwelcome guest, had arrived.

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