This past Saturday and Sunday were very educational thanks to a local geologist in the Tom’s River area of New Jersey. When we arrived in Tom’s River on Saturday she welcomed us and gave us a few introductory lectures about the events surrounding Hurricane Sandy and the aftermath of the storm before we had the opportunity to interview two of her friends who lived in the area when Sandy hit. The information they gave us was very eye-opening and will no doubt be extremely valuable when the time comes for us to put together our projects. After having a great New Jersey diner dinner, the six of us went out to the boardwalk to explore. The New Jersey boardwalk unlike anything I’ve ever seen. There was so much to take in with all of the vendors, great-smelling food and massive crowds of people.
The next day was a great experience as well, as we got a day-long tour of the jersey shore area, checking out the damage done by Sandy that still hasn’t been cleaned up as well as talking with some more residents who experienced the Hurricane’s effects firsthand. One couple we talked to had four feet of water in their house as a result of the storm and they told us about their neighbors, who lost four vehicles in the chaos.
As we were driving around the various communities in the shore area, it was amazing to see how many empty lots there still were years after the hurricane swept through. Many people, rather than try to rebuild, simply left their damaged homes and moved away as it would be more costly to repair their home on the shore. Many of these homes remain today as, aside from the cost of purchasing the home itself, any potential buyer would also have to pay to have the home refitted to meet new building standards put in place after Sandy hit. These regulations include having the house raised a few feet to prevent flooding in the case of another hurricane, a renovation that can be extremely expensive, depending on the size of the building. As a result, many vacant houses sit in the shore area waiting to be bought and lived in despite the high demand for oceanfront property.
It made me optimistic, despite all of the empty lots and still-damaged homes, to see that many people had rebuilt their homes and this time had taken proper precaution by constructing their new homes on stilts so that they would not be flooded if another hurricane were to come through and cover the shore area with water again.