11 November 2012

You meet the nicest people on a BMW, even after a hurricane

I haven't talked much about the hurricane that hit NJ last week, somewhat because my family got lucky and only lost power for 3-4 days and only had minimal damage to the house, but mostly because everyone in the area has been assessing the damage and trying to recover. Alot of my friends have had it much worse than me, some just got power within the last couple days. I intentionally didn't travel down rt. 35 because I didn't want to get in the way of the cleanup, or clog up roads for people/emergency services that really needed to get somewhere. Gas rationing didn't help either, and we're still in conservation mode. This weekend "normalcy" has sorta been established and we ventured off into the harder hit areas.

Yesterday while my wife was getting her haircut, my daughter and I went through South Amboy and Perth Amboy to walk along the waterfront. Unfortunately we couldn't really get that close to it in either town. In South Amboy Police were blocking access to not only the waterfront, but all the blocks (maybe 5-6 or so deep) in from the waterfront. We had looked at a house in this area a couple weeks ago, now that house will need to be torn down as the basement and foundation have collapsed, the surrounding houses were also devastated. There was a Red Cross station on the block, and we didn't stop to take any pictures considering we weren't even supposed to be there in the first place. This is from two blocks away though, and was taken by a friend who used to rent on this block:

Now imagine collapsed homes that washed off their foundations and you get the picture of the block where we checked out the house. It should be noted that the owners of the house lived there for 40+ years and didn't have flood insurance. They assured us when we viewed the house that they've never seen water reach the house since they'd owned it, now they have nothing.

I knew Perth Amboy was hitting equally hard (the towns are only separated by the Raritan River), but headed there to try and take a walk along the water. We were able to access certain points, but the once beautiful dockside area was completely off limits. The ice cream parlor could be viewed from afar and you could see that the front had fallen off, fishing piers were demolished, and the restaurants along the Arthur Kill weren't that much better. Going down High St. there was access, albeit fenced off, and that's around where these pics were taken.

not the best pic, but those boats are toast, as is what used to be a nicely paved waterside walk

That was about as close as I could get to anything worth seeing, the police were blocking everything else off.

Today while my daughter was napping, I took a trip on the Beemer down to Morgan Beach and Keyport to see how those areas made out. Keyport's always been a nice place for our family to go for a quick walk, or an equally nice place to go for a ride and stop for a drink. Most of these pictures aren't mine, my cell phone wasn't taking very good pictures in the dusk, so I'll expressly say when they aren't my pics and where they are from:

this is the Steamboat Museum (right) and the bar I frequent on late night mid-week motorcycle rides. Not my pic, via Frances Micklow/The Star-Ledger

Ye Cottage Inn, landmark restaurant, Sara and I had Valentine's day dinner here once. This isn't even the brunt of the damage. The dining area is to the right of this picture and was washed away, while the floor above it collapsed on top of it. Not my pic, via Heavy Staff (http://www.heavy.com/news/2012/10/hurricane-sandy-nj-photos-best-jersey-shore-flooding-damage/)

Another one from Heavy (http://www.heavy.com/news/2012/10/hurricane-sandy-nj-photos-best-jersey-shore-flooding-damage/). This is the Morgan bridge, right by the Morgan Marina on the way down 35 toward Laurence Harbor.

 It was surreal heading into Keyport. Boats were all over the place, places you didn't think a surge could even push them. The Blue Rock Cafe had three boats thrown into it, both marinas were destroyed, the hot dog shop opposite to the Keyport waterfront was flattened. All the images you've expected to see from hurricanes on TV, but which, when seen in real life, don't seem to compute mentally. These are the areas you don't see on the news, these aren't the popular vacation spots or famous shore towns. In fact, these are all in Middlesex County

While I rode into Keyport, I saw an old BMW RT airhead parked, so on my loop back toward 35 I stopped to meet the owner. These folks are Laurent and Valerie, with their 82 BMW R100RT. There were down in Keyport surveying the damage just like I was and it was great to meet them amidst all of the devastation. We exchanged contact info and I may have found another riding buddy. In the pic you can see two beacons, those mark the entrance to the parking lot to Ye Cottage Inn. I kinda wish I took a more wideangle shot so you could see this happy couple in contrast to all the destruction around them.

This is the area I surveyed, only about 10 miles, and with the exception of Staten Island (immediately east of Perth Amboy), these are well away from all the new coverage.

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