Dave and Amy Freeman have been traveling the USA with the Wilderness Classroom. They have participated in several projects including using secchi disks to sample water turbidity and monitoring banded gulls. They were in New Jersey during Hurricane Sandy staying with friends and posted this blog detailing their experiences. For more information on the Wilderness Classroom visit wildernessclassroom.org.
Last Saturday and Sunday we helped Bill and Carmen Stage, the owners of New Jersey Kayak, prepare their kayak shop and marina for Hurricane Sandy. We used dozens of ropes to lash down kayaks, motorboats, docks, tables, and anything else that wasn’t bolted to the ground. As we were driving back to Bill and Carmen’s house a police officer informed us that their neighborhood was being evacuated. Luckily their friends, the Richies, invited us to stay with them. We quickly packed our bags and drove to the Richie’s house on Sunday night as the winds began to increase.
Around 6 PM on Monday night the winds briefly subsided, the sky cleared, and the full moon‘s rays illuminated the tangled branches of the large oak tree that crashed to the ground an hour before. A few minutes later the winds and rain returned. The eye of Hurricane Sandy had passed over the house in Barnegat, New Jersey where we weathered the storm with our new friends, the Richies. Early Tuesday morning the high winds and pelting rain ended and the floodwaters began to subside.
We were anxious to see how New Jersey Kayak had weathered the storm, but the floodwaters still covered all of the roads leading to the coast. Bill and I decided to kayak about a mile through the forest and across the flooded coastal plain to the kayak shop. Paddling through the flooded forest reminded me of paddling through the flooded Amazon Rainforest. We pulled ourselves through the woods by grabbing the tree trunks and tall grasses. After about 30 minutes we reached their marina. It was a bittersweet sight. We were relieved to find all of the kayaks, boats, and buildings intact. About 3 feet of water had washed through the marina and into the building. Parts of the docks and fences were ripped apart by the wind and waves. Several dump trucks full of debris and an old wooden 20-25 foot motorboat were swept onto their property by the storm. Several feet of water still covered the marina so there wasn’t much we could do, but take pictures. Bill began talking about the basic steps he and Carmen will take over the coming days, weeks and months to rebuild as we paddle back to his truck.
I am truly amazed by how well Bill and Carmen are dealing with an event that has turned their lives and their business upside down. Amy and I are planning to spend a few days here helping them move all of their kayaks to their home and begin the clean up process.
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