Photo Of The Day: New Jersey Shore

photo of the day - New Jersey shore post-Sandy
David Elwood, Flickr

Last year’s Superstorm Sandy devastated much of the East Coast, especially around the mid-Atlantic coastline. New York and New Jersey beaches were hit hard, with scores of houses and even towns wiped out. Many places are rebounding, such as Coney Island, which opened officially for the season in April. Today’s Photo of the Day was taken this weekend in New Jersey by Flickr user David Elwood, who also took a shot of Coney Island’s Cyclone that we featured last summer. The roller coaster remains are a sad reminder that not everything is back to normal six months later. Many other beach towns have rebuilt and will be open for business this summer, so don’t count New Jersey out of your travel plans, they need visitors now more than ever.

Add your travel photos (Creative Commons, please!) to the Gadling Flickr pool to be featured as a Photo of the Day.

UPDATE: Several commenters have noted that the roller coaster was removed this week as part of the ongoing clean-up of the Jersey shore. A photograph captures a moment in time, and while this scene may not exist anymore, it’s still a powerful document of history.

Airbnb Offers Free Housing For Victims Of Hurricane Sandy

Last week, thousands of residents along the East Coast had their homes destroyed or were left without electricity and heat by Hurricane Sandy. This week brought yet another injustice as a vicious Nor’easter storm bearing snow and frigid temperatures left victims scrambling for shelter. That’s why we were heartened to hear about a just-announced partnership between NYC.gov and apartment rental service Airbnb to coordinate free housing for New York area storm victims.

Since the storm hit New York and New Jersey last Monday, Airbnb has seen a surge in last-minute bookings in storm-affected areas like Atlantic City, New York City and the Hamptons. As a result of the surge, Airbnb announced it was partnering with NYC.gov to waive all fees for all Sandy victims looking for shelter on the service and put in a new call for generous New Yorkers with extra space to donate extra rooms and couches to those in need.

Airbnb is one of several services that let savvy apartment owners make money off their unused space, but what sets them apart is the site’s emphasis on community. Rather than just a place to rent apartments, the site’s users can now help displaced New York, New Jersey and Connecticut residents find help in a time of need. We hope more travel brands will look to this example and continue to encourage this kind of generosity and community among members.

[Photo credit: Randy Le’Moine Photography]

Greetings From The Jersey Shore

I’m one of the lucky ones. No power, no heat and no phone service – but I have a (damaged) roof over my head, a bed and blankets, sweaters and coats to keep me warm, food to eat and potable water to drink. Yesterday, spotty cell service returned, so I could phone loved ones and friends to assure them that I was safe. (I even got a phone call from Bill Clinton, urging me to vote for Obama.)

Thousands, I don’t know how many, are not so lucky. They are still in shelters, in motels, scattered refugees, their homes either swept away by a ferocious ocean and swollen rivers or damaged beyond repair by trees uprooted and turned into deadly missiles by Sandy’s savage winds.

Everywhere are the empty shells of homes, restaurants, beach cabanas, boats; miles of broken boardwalk; shattered pieces of amusement park rides – everything that was part of the “old normal” at the Jersey Shore that I’ve loved since I was a little kid.

As the storm approached, I was ordered out of my 70-year-old oceanfront apartment building. I had weathered Irene at home with very little damage. But this time, I believed the dire warnings and went to my daughter’s house, about a mile inland. As we hunkered down on Monday evening, Sandy began battering the towns and villages along Jersey’s 127-mile shoreline. All around us, power lines fell, sizzled and arced, looked like cartoon lightning against the blackness of the sky. Lights went out, furnaces died, power was gone.

When the winds subsided into an eerie stillness, we ventured out to see what was gone and what had been spared. My building was still standing, though a cascade of broken roof tiles scattered the street and destroyed a car in the parking lot. A giant tree yawed crazily toward my second floor apartment. On the oceanside of the building, the idyllic grassy knoll where my neighbors and I had picnicked was gone, swallowed by the ocean, and all that remained was rubble and the rusting skeleton of the destroyed bulkhead.

Driving around, trying to assess damage was difficult; fallen trees and downed wires blocked almost every thoroughfare; yellow police tape limited access to the worst areas. So much bad news: the Asbury Park boardwalk, the Ocean Grove fishing pier, Seaside Park boardwalk, Point Pleasant Beach – on and on. Deaths from falling trees and other storm-related causes.

I found an old battery-powered radio, and listened for hours to 94.3 FM, “The Point,” heard Governor Christie and President Obama assure us that help was on the way, listened to the concert that Bruce and Bon Jovi and others gave in NYC to benefit the Red Cross and victims of Sandy. “That’s us,” the announcer declared. I didn’t feel like a victim. I was one of the lucky ones. The victims were the dead, the disabled, those who were suffering the kind of tragedies that I had been spared.

As always happens during and after disasters, Sandy brought out the best and worst in people. My son-in-law, a nurse who worked 12-hour shifts at a nearby hospital, came home and helped clear branches and tree limbs from the homes of older neighbors. He filled cans of gasoline and gave them to neighbors who had generators. Neighbors shared food and firewood.

Wegmans supermarket remained open after the storm, using generator power to prepare hot food, to bake bread and pastries and to welcome one and all to use their Wi-Fi, to charge phones and laptops – and to get warm.

The worst: fights in stores over limited supplies of batteries, fights at long gas lines – so many of our stations were closed, either because they had run out of gas or because they had no power for the pumps – looting in some areas, dangerous cowboy driving because traffic lights were out. Power has been coming back, slowly, but not here in Interlaken. This town of 400 homes is a low priority for JCP&L, which is necessarily focusing on bigger towns and commercial areas.

Traffic on the Turnpike and Parkway has been bad, even on the weekend, as New Jersey Transit train service to and from NYC is suspended, the tracks badly damaged, with no estimate of when service on the New Jersey Coast Line will be restored. The traffic problem is compounded by the long lines for gas along both major roadways.

Anyone planning to travel to the Shore, perhaps to check on relatives and friends should be prepared for a long and possibly difficult trip. Drivers should fill their tanks before they leave, as gas is rationed, with purchases allowed on odd or even days, determined by the odd or even final numbers on license plates. (Vanity plates are odd, so are plates that have no numbers.) Some roads are still closed or only partly open.

Traffic will be heavy as residents try to get back to work. There is no train service to the Shore. Academy busses are operating between NYC and some Shore towns, though some busses will be rerouted due to storm damage. Check www.academybus.com for schedules (such as they are) and routes. Be aware that a curfew is in effect in all the coastal Monmouth County towns, with non-essential travel banned between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m.

Tonight, when temperatures drop to the 20s, we will pile mattresses on the living room floor and sleep in front of the fireplace, and hope that pipes will not freeze or burst. Thanks to a kind neighbor’s donation of firewood, we will keep a fire going through the night. On Tuesday we will vote, using paper ballots if necessary.

And then we will pray that the Nor’easter that’s headed our way will not flood any more homes, will not knock down any more trees or power lines, will not batter people and places that are already down for the count.

[Photo Credits: Lillian Africano]

Video Of The Day: Time Lapse Of Superstorm Sandy Hitting New York City


Richard Shepherd
created this time lapse video of Superstorm Sandy hitting New York City by using images from the New York Times webcam, which has been positioned on the 51st floor of the Times building in midtown Manhattan since the start of the storm. The video shows the progression of Sandy from noon on October 29 until 9:30 a.m. on October 30. Keep your eye out for a shift at minute 0:42, when electricity went out and downtown Manhattan plunged into darkness.

New York’s LaGuardia Airport Flooded

New Yorkers and residents along the Eastern Seaboard are just beginning to emerge today from the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy – millions remain without power, thousands of flights have been cancelled and transportation throughout the region has been severely disrupted.

If you need further evidence of what it looks like in New York here on the ground, just check out this shot posted this morning by a flight attendant at LaGuardia airport. The airport, which lies in a low-lying coastal area remains severely flooded this morning.

For those of you in transit this week, stay patient. It could be a few days before normal flight, train and bus service in and out of the New York area resumes normal activity.

UPDATE: A special thanks to tireless LaGuardia airport worker Francesco Giannola for your photo.

[Photo credit: Francesco Giannola]