Here is a slideshow from the pictures taken of the damage along the Jersey Shore at several locations from South Amboy to Sea Bright. The damage was quite extensive, especially at Sea Bright, which was just opened to the public again on Wednesday. There is a curfew in the coastal town from 5:00 PM to 7:00 AM. The beach near Waterfront Park in South Amboy is contaminated. It will be a long time before the Jersey Shore is whole again.
Here is a short video of some of the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy at several locations along the Jersey Shore from South Amboy to Sea Bright. The damage was quite extensive, especially at Sea Bright, which is under curfew from 5:00 PM to 7:00 AM. The coastal town just south of Sandy Hook along Route 36 was opened up to the public on Wednesday. It will take many years before the Jersey Shore is whole again.
Possible Nor’easter Could Be In Store Next Week To Hamper Recovery
The timing of Superstorm Sandy couldn’t be worse. Coming in the last week of October, this hurricane/hybrid storm couldn’t have devastated the Jersey Shore, Southeastern New York, and coastal Connecticut at a worse time. The reason for that is the transition from summer to winter brings the development of nor’easters, especially as we get into late October and November. On top of that, there have already been forecasts out indicating that this coming winter could be a real bad one. Having more coastal storms will hamper recovery efforts.
Case in point, the Weather Channel indicated on Friday morning that another storm could be on the horizon for early next week. TWC points to computer models hinting at a Nor’easter that won’t be as strong as Sandy was, but still a nuisance with windy conditions accompanied by a cold rain. The American GFS model is indicating the storm will have a track just off the Mid-Atlantic coast while the European Model (ECMWF) is showing a more inland track that includes New Jersey. While the power is slowly coming back on for many Jersey residents (down to 1.5 million from 2.7 million at the storm’s peak), there are still many along the Jersey Shore without power, and already enduring cold nights over the past few days.
Temperatures aren’t expected to warm up anytime soon. Highs are going to be in the low 50s with morning lows in the mid to upper 30s through the weekend with temps dropping into the upper 40s by the middle of next week. Prior to Sandy, the weather had been quite mild this fall. Once the powerful storm came through though, it pulled down a lot of cold air from Canada, and conditions have become more normal for this time of year.
While There Are Glimmers Of Normalcy, There Is Still A Good Deal Of Struggle
Thursday was the third day of the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy around the Tri-State area. It was a day of some progress. Commercial trains began to run through my hometown of South Plainfield as well as the local 7-11 re-opening, and South Clinton Avenue opening to traffic after being closed for the past two days. More traffic was on the road around Northwestern Middlesex County. More businesses were re-opening again. Beneath these signs of normalcy, there were still signs of struggle and frustration.
Starting with nearby towns in Northwestern Middlesex County, there remained open wounds from the devastation wrought by Sandy three days earlier. A long walk through the towns of South Plainfield, Piscataway, Dunellen, and Middlesex revealed that to me. There was still a good deal of tree and telephone pole damage along with dangling power lines, especially in the town of Dunellen. One of the smallest municipalities in Middlesex County, the Railroad Town was hit harder than many bigger towns in the county. The stretch of road from the New Market section of Piscataway into Dunellen had a number of trees uprooted and telephone poles either severely leaned over to one side, or down, which caused wires to hang dangerously close to the ground. It was probably the most treacherous part of my walk today.
Middlesex and Piscataway had some tree and telephone pole damage with the home of the Blue Jays experiencing the most significant damage with a good portion of Warrenville Road closed to traffic since there are several trees and telephone poles down in concert there. The cascade of these poles and trees have large power lines hanging close to the ground. The sight in Middlesex and Piscataway that drew my attention was the long lines of car traffic, and people with gas cans waiting to get gas. Some people were literally pushing their car up Route 28 to a gas station near the restaurant Tim Kerwin’s that happened to have power and gas. In P-Way, there were lines at the Getty on Stelton Road near Columbus Park. Another long line stretched from Hamilton Boulevard in South Plainfield around to Stelton Road past the Stop and Shop on that road.
South Plainfield appeared to be the town in the best shape. However, I didn’t go through a great deal of Piscataway outside of the New Market Ave section, and neighborhoods along New Brunswick Ave bordering with South Plainfield. Tigertown still has some problems though. Trees were uprooted at a PSEG Customer Facility on Century Road in town so things like that will make it difficult for the utility to get the power back on for the rest of us. During my journey, I took many photos, which I’ve added to the Hurricane Sandy album in the GWC Photo Gallery. Conditions are improving in quite a few places including Hoboken, which has FEMA boots on the ground, and is now nearly clear of the flooding that has plagued it for the previous two days. New York City is starting to resume some train and bus service thanks to the efforts of Mayor Mike Bloomberg and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who is talking tough to the utilities such as Con Edison and LIPA so that they can get power back running for residents. The lights came back up on Broadway as theaters reopened. In addition, people seemed to show more patience and courtesy when driving through the traffic filled streets of NYC.
Power is also starting to come back up for many in New Jersey. The number of people without power across the Garden State is down to 1.7 million from a high of 2.7 million at the peak of the storm. Governor Christie has attacked this monumental problem head on by demanding results from the three major power utilities in the state: JCP & L, PSE & G, and Atlantic City Electric. While Christie understands that this is a very challenging situation for them, he still has the expectation that the job gets done. He also shut off the natural gas system that runs from Mantoloking to Seaside Heights in an effort to stop the fires that have broken out in the wake of the terrible damage from the surge along that stretch of Garden State shoreline. He also is getting electrical workers from all over the country as well as Canada to get the power back up and running. Arrangements have been made to shelter and feed those workers at Fort Monmouth.
There are signs of frustration though. Much of Staten Island and Queens is still in the dark and flooded. In addition, residents in Staten Island are living in fear because of looting. Residents in both boroughs expressed their anger and demanded that something significant be done to help them begin to make progress like all the other parts of New York City. Some residents pointed to the fact that many on Staten Island and Queens are working class, or the little people, and more priorities are being spent on those in Manhattan that are better off. To make matters worse, Mayor Bloomberg announced that the New York Marath0n, scheduled for this coming Sunday, is going on as scheduled although it will be run as a different route. Some critics charge that resources needed for dealing with the storm’s aftermath are being misplaced while others feel that this is insensitive to those still struggling to get power and rid themselves of the flood waters.
Further north in Westchester County, Mount Vernon is still struggling with significant damage from Sandy including downed trees, telephone poles, and power lines while the mayor in the town was out of the area for a reunion in North Carolina, and nobody else took charge to get the town prepared for the storm and its aftermath. On top of that, the death toll is climbing around the New York City area as well as New Jersey. In NYC, there are now 40 deaths including 20 from Staten Island alone. Approximately 159 people have died including 88 in the United States, two in Canada, and another 69 in the Caribbean. The key to this whole situation is the restoration of power. Once power is restored, people can return to their homes, flood waters can get pumped out, chainsaws can cut downed trees, polluted waters can be treated, and gas stations can get back online and to fueling customers again.
This report used information compiled from news reports from NJTV, WNBC4, CNN, and the New York Daily News.
Price Tag For Damage From Sandy Will Be Even More Staggering
In 2005, Hurricane Katrina struck the Northern Gulf coast with a ferocity that devastated New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast, and the price tag of that storm was $108 billion dollars. It stands as the costliest natural disaster in United States History surpassing that of Hurricane Andrew, which cost South Florida some $27 billion dollars in damage. Hurricane Ike became the second costliest storm on record with $29.5 billion dollars in damage to the Houston and Galveston area of Texas in 2008. However, the damage produced Superstorm Sandy will generate a price tag that will dwarf them all. For those, who don’t think that the cost of this storm will surpass Katrina, think again.
It’s very early in the game. The aftermath of Sandy is just two days old, and the recovery process is in its infancy, but the scenes of damage along the Jersey Shore, New York City, Long Island, and Coastal Connecticut alone has been overwhelming. The storm produced record storm surges at Battery Park in New York City (13.88 feet) and Sandy Hook (13.3 feet). Here in South Plainfield, New Jersey which is far inland in the Northwestern corner of Middlesex County, there is significant wind damage. The scope of Superstorm Sandy’s impacts are so vast with blizzard conditions in West Virginia, and as far south as the mountains of Eastern Tennessee (Mount Leconte had 34 inches at last count), waves of 20.3 feet on the south shores of Lake Michigan near Chicago, and severe thunderstorms in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.
Earlier this year, Hurricane Irene was ranked as the seventh costliest storm ever after the devastation it produced across the Northeast in late August of 2011. The price tag for that storm was $10 billion, and the storm only produced a storm surge of 4 to 5 feet in New York City, and along the Jersey Shore. Irene was no Sandy either. While Irene was a storm that was fading as it came through New Jersey and New York last year, Sandy was a much more energized storm. I was in South Amboy’s Waterfront Park for both storms, and Sandy’s surge was already at the same level that Irene was when it was coming up the Jersey coast last year, and Sandy was still a number of hours from landfall. Furthermore, Sandy was a much stronger and larger storm with size that was almost twice that as Irene, and a barometric pressure that was 946 millibars at landfall, a good 14 millibars lower than Irene was when it came up through Jersey. Sandy’s path also resulted in a more direct impact to the Jersey Shore and New York City.
By making its landfall in South Jersey, Sandy was able to deliver the brunt of its power to the very expensive properties that lie along the Jersey Shore in places such as Long Beach Island, Spring Lake, Sea Girt, Sea Bright, and Rumson as well as the financial capital of the world in New York City, and the casinos and entertainment hot bed of Atlantic City. Very expensive homes also lie along the coast in both Long Island and Coastal Connecticut, which were hit hard by the surge coming in from the Atlantic and Long Island Sound. These places were also hit in the post-Katrina era where insurance premiums have skyrocketed in the wake of that monumental storm. In 2001, the site also discussed the studies by insurance companies that indicated that a major hurricane hitting the Jersey Shore would cause some $50 billion dollars in damage, and this was almost five years before Katrina. Back in 2006, Hurricaneville had written an article that discussed another article by the Newark Star-Ledger that pointed out the building of multi-million dollar homes along the Jersey Shore in spite of the changing weather patterns and insurance climate.
This storm’s effects were also felt well inland. Entering the third day of the aftermath of this storm, and there were still numerous traffic lights down around South Plainfield, and many adjacent municipalities in Middlesex County. Many secondary and tertiary roads in New Jersey are still closed, especially in Middlesex County, Monmouth County, and Ocean County. Many trees have been uprooted, telephone poles snapped, and cell phone towers have been damaged. Power is still out for many in the Garden State, and cell phone communication has been spotty at best. Add to all of this the other events that have occurred as a result of the storm such as the 130 homes that were destroyed by fire spread by the winds from Sandy in the coastal community of Breezy Point, New York, and you have a very staggering price to pay for this storm.
The devastation along the coast in New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut as well as significant damage to inland areas to those states and others from Hurricane/Superstorm Sandy will generate a price tag that will ultimately dwarf that of Hurricane Katrina when it hit the Northern Gulf Coast in 2005. In a climate where weather patterns have made places such as the New York City Metropolitan area, the Jersey Shore, Long Island, and Connecticut more vulnerable, and insurance premiums in these areas as well as New England have risen significantly in a post-Katrina world, the cost could easily be billions of dollars alone. Add to that the cost of damage further inland to communities far away from the coast and as far south and west as West Virginia, Illinois, and Tennessee, and we could have our first 100 billion dollar storm.
A much anticipated first light for Jersey residents brought visions of disbelief and heartbreak. From the tidal flooding in Hoboken to levee breach and raging Hackensack river in Bergen County to the downed trees, dismantled traffic lights, and mangled street signs in Middlesex County to the heavy damage to many towns along the Jersey Shore, there is no way to put into words how devastating Hurricane Sandy was to the Garden State. A weary Governor Chris Christie was emotional when speaking about the Jersey Shore, especially Belmar, Seaside Heights, and Island Beach State Park, places where he has spent summers during his childhood and the past several years.
I’ve been to Island Beach State Park twice since April. Those two visits were my first ever to that beach. A friend had brought it up to me when I was considering places to travel to during my off-season from covering high school football and basketball. I enjoyed both of my trips there, and have pictures from both visits that you can see in the GWC Photo Gallery. I was particularly impressed by the size, shape, and quality of the dunes there. They had a majestic quality to them, and it comes out in the pictures I took of them. In June, I traveled the whole length of that beach to Barngeat Inlet, and viewed Barnegat Light. To hear that the beach there was significantly damaged was sad to say the least.
Over the past 10 years, I’ve made many trips to the Jersey Shore. Originally, I traveled mostly to Sandy Hook and nearby Sea Bright. Six years ago, I began taking trips to Waterfront Park in South Amboy and the Laurence Harbor section of Old Bridge. However, over the past year I’ve visited many coastal communities from Avon By The Sea, Belmar, Keyport, Keansburg, Manasquan, Port Monmouth, Red Bank, Sea Girt, Spring Lake, and Union Beach. I had made plans to make more visits in the future. While I’m disappointed that I will not be able to get down there in the near future, I intend to head down there once things return to normal, and the iconic features that make those locales so special are rebuilt better than before.
I traveled around South Plainfield by foot and by car, and was amazed by the damage here even though it pales in comparison to places such as Hoboken, Moonachie, Sayreville, and the Jersey Shore. Traffic lights ripped off their supports, and thrown to the street like toys. I noticed several of them down and disfigured just around the Stelton and Hadley Road areas alone. Leaves, tree limbs, and large branches scattered about like rubbish. A number of large trees were uprooted with some lying in the street. Other trees such as the ones in the front of the hotel I’m staying at were bent over by the force of the high winds on Monday night. Roads were cut off, or closed to traffic. Street signs were bent over, mangled, or even uprooted while store signs were ripped apart. Some of the store signs were thrown many yards from where they originated.
I’ve taken pictures of much of the damage, and plan to take more over the next couple days. Like many of the recent disasters that the Garden State has endured, the devastation was almost surreal. After 9/11 I felt like my life and the way we live was altered forever. Following Hurricane Irene a year ago, I understood how these disasters are more than just numbers, pictures, and video on television, and what it was like to have to endure what others have been enduring from disasters across this country. This time, I find myself not really surprised by what happened, but in awe. The damage is almost surreal. Even though New Jersey lies in a position along the East Coast of the United States that leaves it relatively immune from tropical storms and hurricanes, Irene and Sandy are reminders that even the Garden State is like any other coastal state in the U.S., and vulnerable to tropical cyclones.
Back in 2001, I had put together a special series of reports on the state of Tri-State Preparedness for a tropical storm or hurricane. Then, I had mentioned how insurance companies had studied the possibility of a major hurricane making landfall along the Jersey Shore and producing a devastating surge to many of Jersey’s coastal communities as well as New York City, and possibly causing tens of billions in damage. Eleven years later, I’m sad to see that this scenario has become reality.
Severe Weather Also Produces Tornadoes In Queens And Brooklyn And A Waterspout In Brick Township
After several days of more warmth and tremendous humidity over the Garden State last week, the heavens erupted again this past Saturday with several rounds of severe weather across New Jersey as well as New York, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut as well as much of Southern New England. This latest round produced tornadoes in Queens and Brooklyn as well as a waterspout near Brick Township.
The twister in Queens was an EF0 on the Enhance Fujita Scale near Breezy Point while the one in Brooklyn was located in the Canarsie section, and was an EF1. Both storms developed in the late morning well before the strong line of thunderstorms pushed through the region in the late afternoon. The waterspout also occurred around the same time as the two twisters. Another waterspout near Asbury Park was reported, but not confirmed.
Storms that developed during the late afternoon were more widespread as a powerful cold front pushed eastward and spawned severe thunderstorms from New England to Northern Georgia and Alabama. The leading edge came through between 5:00 and 6:00 PM with a strong gust front that produced high winds in places such as Edison, Woodbridge, and Perth Amboy in Middlesex County as well as Montville in Morris County and Clinton Township in Hunterdon County.
The second wave of storms in the afternoon produced very little in the way of rain. Even the third wave that followed in the early evening didn’t produce much either. In South Plainfield, the total rainfall from the two rounds of storms accompanying the cold front was just under a quarter of an inch. The storms did down trees in many places in Jersey.
This is the Hurricaneville Video Report for the morning of June 27, 2012. This installment of the HVR discusses the impact of what was Tropical Storm Debby on Northern Florida, and a possible new threat in the Tropical Atlantic.
Makes Landfall On Tuesday Afternoon; Takes Florida From Drought To Deluge
Tropical Storm Debby made landfall on Tuesday afternoon after grinding away in the Northeastern Gulf for the past several days. By the time it came ashore, the fourth named storm of the 2012 Atlantic Hurricane Season has lost a lot of punch with maximum sustained winds at only minimal tropical storm force. However, Debby has still produced a lot of flooding throughout the Sunshine State.
Latest doppler radar estimates out of Florida show rainfall amounts ranging from about a quarter of an inch in the Southwestern portion of the state to well over 10 inches in the northern part of the state. Some areas in Northern Florida have received well over two feet of rain. The city of Jacksonville, which had recently taken a punch from Tropical Storm Beryl, has received 13.28 inches of rain from Debby as of 6:00 AM this morning according to the Weather Channel.
Other locales in Northern Florida have taken a bigger hit. Portions of Wakulla County have received upwards of 28 inches of rain from this storm. With locations such as Homosassa receiving 2 inches per hour on Sunday, and Eugene getting 6.90 inches on Sunday alone, Florida has gone from drought to Deluge. Consequently, there is flooding all along the I-10 corridor, which has parts of it closed including a 20 mile stretch in Baker County. The National Weather Service indicates that major flooding is occurring along the St. Mary’s River near Macclenny, North Fork Black Creek near Middleburg, and the Suwanne River at White Springs. Minor Flooding is occurring along the Aucilla River at Lamont, and the St. Mark’s River near Newport.
There were other effects as well. On Sunday, Debby’s outer bands spiraled into the Gulf Coast of Florida, and the rotation and shear produced from those bands spawned 20 tornadoes in that part of the state. There were also 12 reports of high winds including a wind gust of 62 miles per hour in Hollywood located in Broward County. Tropical Storm force winds of 44 miles per hour with gusts up to 48 were reported in the Big Bend area of Florida. After crossing Northern Florida last night, Debby, now a depression, has emerged off the coast near Daytona Beach into the Atlantic.
As of 5:00 AM EDT this morning, the depression was located some 25 miles to the Southeast of St. Augustine, Florida. Maximum sustained winds were at 35 miles per hour, and movement was to the East-Northeast at 10 miles per hour. Wind gusts were estimated at 45 miles per hour while the barometric pressure had risen to 998 millibars, or 29.47 inches of Hg. There are no tropical storm watches or warnings in effect.
Here is weather footage of clouds from a departing thunderstorm moving offshore at both South Amboy and Keyport, New Jersey. The departing storm clouds combined with the sun for a fantastic sunset after several waves of severe weather rolled through Central Jersey on this late June day in 2012.