Point Pleasant boardwalk in winter, circa 1998
In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, I find my sympathies torn between two places I hold near and dear: New York City—particularly those devastated areas of Brooklyn, near where we used to live, and Queens, where we live now—and the Jersey Shore, where I grew up in the town of Brick. While we’ve been able to physically volunteer only in Queens thus far, and have donated funds to these areas (and certain individuals) specifically, mostly I’ve just helplessly watched the awful TV and web footage, listened sympathetically to the stories of friends and family members more directly affected, and wondered what else I—among the lucky ones who escaped the storm unscathed—could do.
For right now, all I can do is write and reach out. Write of my childhood haunts, now torn asunder. The Point Pleasant boardwalk where my mom dropped me off every Friday night to meet friends. The beaches that played host, as we grew up, to the thrills of riding waves, flirting with boys, late-night parties, and solitary winter walks. The iconic Seaside boardwalk, where I sold seashells and hermit crabs every summer when I wasn’t serving fried seafood elsewhere. Now the Casino Pier, home to that boardwalk’s best rides, is broken, its roller coaster dispatched to the sea, and half of the beach houses in my best friend’s family’s community have washed away. With a heavy heart, I wonder how many of the vendors we highlight in our Jersey Shore pages are still standing.
Frozen custard from Kohr’s, a NJ boardwalk staple
Though I moved to New York in 2000, Brick, Point Pleasant, Ocean Beach—these are the Shore spots where my family and oldest friends still live, and where I trudge back to visit via NJ Transit every few months (more often in the summer, naturally). I’ve brought Scott—also a Jersey boy, from just a bit north in Old Bridge—down more times than I can count in our 12-year relationship, for many a pre-beach Bloody Mary, boardwalk stroll, and after-hours swim. Oh, yeah—and to celebrate our marriage a month after our small ceremony in Mexico with a huge, incredible party on the beach in Sea Bright. I’ve heard the beach club where we held it is all but gone now.
Sea Bright, 2005
Playing the candy wheel on the Seaside boardwalk
A late-afternoon swim
Of course, these are personal memories tied to the quintessential icons of the Jersey Shore, the beaches and bars, the boardwalks and rides. Astoundingly, many of them have been nearly erased by this storm. It’s enough to break any nostalgic’s heart, but that’s saying nothing of the year-rounders who have lost or nearly lost their homes, their cars, their livelihoods, or, at the very least, their electricity and heat (still). So I’m reaching out to our readers, in case you haven’t yet donated or are feeling ready for another round. While giving to the Red Cross is never a bad idea, if you want to donate immediately to a particular area it’s often best to go through more local channels. Below are a few ways, compiled with the help of friends in the area, to give directly to those coastal communities hit hardest along the Jersey Shore.
To give funds:
Make a $10 donation to the Community FoodBank of NJ by texting FEEDNJ to 80888
To buy a T-shirt/hat/hoodie, with all proceeds donated:
To send a card:
Rebuild Seaside Heights: Emotional donations
To donate or volunteer locally:
Jersey Cares: Register online for volunteer opportunities
Call 1-800-JERSEY-7, the state’s newly activated volunteer-emergency-response hotline
Ocean County press release: Collection locations
Closed for now, but it will be back!
Editor’s note: Next week we’ll post a brief tribute to those areas in NYC hit hardest by the storm, with donation links.