As much as I wanted tonight’s post to be about the amount of homework I did today (11 hours, albeit distracted hours, and still more to go tomorrow), there’s something way more pressing going on.
As most of you know, I have many close, personal ties with the Jersey Shore, specifically Seaside. Nearly every summer since I was seven years old (I think we maybe missed one year), my family has headed down the shore to spend a week in Seaside. Yes, it’s just a week, and yes, I know there are families who go for entire summers, but that week every year has always meant the world to me.
When Hurricane Sandy devastated the shore last year, I, like many whose hearts reside there, was speechless. To see the photos of the rollercoaster I’d ridden so many times, now collapsed into the ocean, absolutely broke my heart; to see it in person a couple of months after the storm was even worse.
To stand on the boardwalk, where I’ve stood hundreds of times, and only see sand and debris where there was once a walkway, was so disheartening.
But the promise to rebuild was loud and clear. The efforts of so many people went into the restoration of a place that holds so many memories. After my drive down in December, I took another trip down in May to see the rebuilding efforts soon before the boardwalk was set to re-open. My sister and I drove all over Seaside, looking at every single place that our hearts held dear, and feeling a sense of hope that our trip in July would be just as wonderful as years past.
Our trip in July was beautiful. Though there were (and still are) many places where the shore still needs work, we had a great vacation. We were impressed by the amount of businesses that re-opened, and saddened by those that were still destroyed. But overall, that feeling of hope was still there. The Jersey Shore was coming back, stronger than ever.
Until today. Around 2:30, a fire broke out at the Kohrs ice cream stand at the beginning of the boardwalk. Within just a couple of hours, the fire had spread nearly six blocks. When my dad got home at 5, we turned on the news and watched in stunned silence as the fire consumed the entire Funtown pier. The pier that Sandy spared was now engulfed in flames. By 10 PM, the fire was contained, but the outcome was grim; over twenty businesses were destroyed by the fire. Here we are, heartbroken all over again, as the boardwalk everyone worked so hard to restore was destroyed yet again.
At this point, I don’t even know what else to say. I’m sad. I’m disheartened. I get chills every time something new pops up in the news that shows more damage. Yes, we’re Jersey strong. But there’s only so much we can take. And when a place we love so much keeps getting hit with one thing after another… it’s sad. It’s really, really sad.
My heart goes out to those business owners who lost so much. I’m glad people were evacuated before the fire got too destructive. But I can only imagine what it feels like to lose a piece of you that’s so important. Especially after what the shore went through last year.
Again, I know we’re Jersey strong. We’ll find a way back from this. But right now… we just need a break.