Jersey Shore is recovering.
As the summer months approach and the sun continues to shine on the Jersey Shore, beach-goers are eager to roll out their towels and lay in the sand. Nearly eight months after Hurricane Sandy, towns along the coast are slowly making their recovery.
The iconic Jet Star has finally been removed from the water in Seaside Heights, while workers have tirelessly been rebuilding the boardwalk, getting ready for the summer tourists and local families. Other, more residential areas, such as Lavalette and Ortley, are still fighting hard to reach normalcy.
My first visit back to the Jersey Shore beach was a bittersweet one. It was a beautiful day: not too hot and perfectly sunny. My friends and I decided to travel to Island Beach State Park, down the road from Seaside Heights.
Upon entering the park, it did not seem different than usual: the same trees and shrubbery lined the long road that connects the many beaches inside of the park. The signs were still in tact and bikers pedaled through the trails of the park. However, as I got further down the road, the first sign of difference was there. Jersey Shore Beach #1, the most common bathing beach that people use, was closed due to reparations.
Jersey Shore Beach #2 is where my friends and I decided to settle in. Once on the beach, things seemed the way they always did during a summer beach day. My friends and I settled into our spot, slapped on the sunscreen and warmed in the sun. A little girl chased the waves that splashed up onto the shore. Lifeguards began to check and replace their materials in their stands, preparing their stations for further use. It seemed that everything was exactly how it should be.
I rolled onto my stomach, and my feet grazed something hard. Buried in the sand were small remnants from the storm: tiny sea creatures, sticks and other little items. My friend found a relatively small piece of plastic, possibly a piece of siding from a home.
At that moment, it was clear to me that this summer, life at the Jersey Shore wasn’t going to be like it was in the past.
As vacationers spread onto the Jersey Shore beaches and crowd the boardwalks and amusement parks up and down the coast, the rest of the state will be struggling to get back to the way things were. Tourists may not realize that the rides are new, the boards and the stands are new, the houses are reconstructed and the roads are repaved. What happened in October is still in the minds of us Jerseyans. We can feel the difference in the new boards beneath our feet and frown when we find debris in the ocean. Our families, friends, teachers and colleagues are still attempting to make their homes a livable place. Not all people out-of-state have the means to empathize with the victims of Hurricane Sandy. However, this first summer after Sandy will help bring tourists and locals together and fully restore the Garden State.