Friday, November 29, 2013

Hurricane Sandy Revisited by Mango Momma

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.

Mango Momma


  1. Things just happen so quickly....probably a good time to remember the REALLY important things like families and animals. At least you have your memories.

    XXXOOO Daisy, Bella & Roxy

  2. We are so sorry for your family's loss of a special place. We are glad your loved ones, both human and animal are safe and well and please remember that the cherished memories have a safe haven in your heart forever.

  3. It is truly unbelievable the damage that Sandy did. My heart goes out to you and your family ... such a special place to lose. You do have special memories that will remain in your heart...treasure them. We are very glad that you all weren't there during that terrible storm. Saying special prayers for you tonight.
    xo Jeanne, Chloe and LadyBug

  4. Thanks for sharing this fascinating and moving post. The geologist in me is, I confess, interested to see that the location of the lagoon has apparently shifted. Geologists spend a lot of time unpicking patterns in ancient environments, reading in the rocks how sandy beach changed to muddy lagoon etc. over time. It gives you. A different perspective on what is 'permanent'. I can see how the community would want to rebuild, but have to question if it is a good idea in such a location.
    Cheers, Gail.

  5. How very sad. Hugs to you, Mango Momma.

    Love ya lots♥
    Mitch and Molly

  6. That broke my heart. I suspect it was so very hard to read because I'm sitting in MY aunt's beach house, just a few yards from the mighty Atlantic. There was significant water damage in the ground-level laundry room and storage area, but otherwise, it weathered yet another storm. We weren't able to be here last year for Thanksgiving, because the roads were still closed - or just not there, actually.

    It takes a special spirit to live by the sea. Will your cousin rebuild?

  7. That is truly sad. I used to go to Lavalette (sp) on the Jersey Shore when I was young and I've heard that area has been hit hard as well. It's easy to say, "it's only a house", but it's not only a house. It was a home, memories were made there and it means the end of the house that made those memories. You are right, it can be gone in a heartbeat. Mother Nature cannot be trifled with. When we get out with our lives and loved ones, we are lucky. So sorry you lost this lovely old home. Ann TBL

  8. Thanks fur sharing . When we were watching the news coverage of Sandy on tv when our power came back on - it seemed like they only focused on the boardwalk being gone, and the amusement park being under water. They spent so much time talking about businesses, we hardly remember them talking about families who lost houses and memories like yours. We are sorry about the house.

  9. Khyra's DOH here -

    As a youngster, we always went to Wildwood - BUT friends and relatives has places in the areas you mentioned - so I know the area -

    It is just unbelievable that things are still so adversely affected - and just so wrong -

    I remember transporting those weekends - and watching the utility crews and other reinforcements heading North as I headed South - and knowing what Sandy did 'here' in Khyra's yard -

    Thanks for sharing -

  10. I lived in Jersey until about 15 years ago. One of the places I lived was Sea Bright, a place that holds the memories of many a Nor' Easter'. Sea Bright was also basically taken off the map when the river met the ocean.....I haven't been back, and now live on the other ocean, but my heartfelt thoughts and prayers are with those that were affected by this tragedy.

    Dory Mama