My grandfather owned and operated a diner in Ortley Beach, New Jersey.
Ortley Beach is part of the barrier islands along the New Jersey shore. On one side is Barnegat Bay, on the other is the Atlantic Ocean.
Growing up, my family spent a good portion of our summer at our grandparent's Ortley Beach house which was located on the bay side at the end of a lagoon. We'd take our boat out into the bay, zoom around, catch crabs off the dock, visit the boardwalk arcade, and just generally have a good time.
After my grandparents passed away, the house went to a second cousin and although it was always available for our use, I never seemed able to find the time to make a trip.
When Hurricane Sandy hit, the bay met the ocean.
A couple of months ago, my parents made the trip down to Ortley Beach to see how the old house fared during the storm.
Not well. Very not well.
You might think that this is the front of the house sagging a bit into the bay. You'd be wrong. This is the side of the house. The front is to the left and was set back from the lagoon a good 30 feet and elevated above the highest possible tides by a safe 10 feet.
Now the bay is permanently in the side yard.
This is the back of the house and you can see the lagoon. Clearly no longer where it should be.
You see that nice sand bar? Nice except it used to be my Aunt Jean's house. Gone without a trace. Washed away, as was the house on the other side of our family lodge.
My parents said that the landscape was unrecognizable and even after dozens of trips there over the years, they had a difficult time finding the house because landmarks had vanished.
For me, seeing the house sagging into the sea (a house which is awaiting demolition) means saying goodbye to childhood memories. It means that a place I always meant to revisit no longer exists. That's not so bad.
But for so many people, the hurricane took away their homes, their communities. Gone. Washed out to sea. And that makes me sad. A year has passed and the areas so devastated by the storm have barely begun to rebuild.
I think of the wild fires in the west, the tornadoes in the central part of the country, the freakish snowstorm in South Dakota, hurricanes and I am reminded of how quickly one can lose everything and how long the road is back to normalcy.
I wish I had a good ending for this post, but I don't, I guess I just wanted to share.