South Amboy Making Strides After Sandy

Middlesex County’s Gateway to the Jersey Shore Rebuilds and Reinforces Beachfront Property Nearly Three Years After Hurricane Sandy

During the course of this Spring, Hurricaneville has made a number of journeys over to South Amboy, New Jersey and its Waterfront Park, which faces Raritan Bay.  Nearly three years after Hurricane Sandy slammed ashore to the south near Atlantic City, the small town known as the Gateway to the Jersey Shore has rebuilt and refortified its precious beachfront property.  

It took some time, but the plan went into action during the summer and fall of 2014, and by the spring, South Amboy’s crown jewel, Waterfront Park, and adjoining beachfront looks even better than it did before October 29, 2012. I travel over to South Amboy a lot, and for several different reasons.  I drove over to Waterfront Park and the South Amboy beachfront on the night that Hurricane Irene grinded her way up the Jersey coast.  I was also there during the early afternoon on the day that Sandy made landfall in the Garden State.  

Two weeks after Sandy blew through, I headed over there again.  It was night and day as far as what I saw the day the storm hit, and this chilly late fall day in Mid-November 2012.  The beachfront was tattered and torn to say the least, and I didn’t capture the full story.   During the spring and summer of 2013, I got an even better picture of what Hurricane Sandy did to this small coastal community in Middlesex County, New Jersey.

During each visit to the South Amboy beachfront in the late fall of 2012, and the following spring and summer of 2013, I marveled at what I seen.  I saw large boats run aground by the record storm surge that was generated by Sandy.  Beach grasses and other vegetation was wiped out.  Walkways were rendered unsafe by the power of the water undermining it.  The fence along the walkway by the bench was twisted and battered.

To comprehend the shear power of that surge that came in from Raritan Bay, all you would have to do is look at the small bridge that connects Waterfront Park to the beachfront homes nearby.  Bricks in the bridge’s walls were ripped off.  You could see the metal cabling used to hold the bricks in place.  In other words, you could see the actual internal skeleton of the bridge.  Down the part of the walkway that is adjacent to the beachfront homes, places where there were park benches were swept away.

Fast forward to today, over two and a half years after Hurricane Sandy, and the beachfront looks as if the storm never even happened.  The only scars you may see is the refortification of the beachfront properties with berms.  The bridge connecting the park to the beachfront homes has been completely repaired, and looks as good as new.  An improved sea wall protects much of the beachfront properties and the adjacent Waterfront Park.  New vegetation has been planted while others have returned.  

The walkway itself has been completely rebuilt down to the lights that light up the way.  The stairway that allows you to get on the beach, which was badly damaged by the storm, has also been replaced as well as the fencing along Waterfront Park.  It’s hard to imagine how all of this was either heavily damaged, or completely destroyed.  The rebuilt beachfront has taken some lessons from Irene and Sandy with the enhanced sea wall and berms to better protect homes near the water.  Views of the water are obscured, but it is all for the best.  I don’t know exactly how all of this came together, but the final result is a job well done.

South Amboy has been a resilient community in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.  Less than two months after the storm.  Residents of the town got together to have a benefit for other residents of the town hit hard by the storm.  It became known as the Friends of South Amboy Benefit Games, which were basketball games between both the boys and girls teams from South Amboy High School, and crosstown rival, Cardinal McCarrick.  It was the first time that these two schools played each other since 2008, and it was a thrilling boys hoops game that went to overtime to cap the evening.

Two years later, they are still playing the benefit games, but now for different causes.  Nevertheless, these contests have brought out the best of the town, and it all began in the hours and days after Hurricane Sandy made landfall.  This rebuilding project shows South Amboy and Middlesex County’s can-do spirit.