Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Seaside Heights

When Hurricane Sandy made landfall on the Jersey shore on October 29, 2012, the iconic beach town of Seaside Heights was changed forever. Monster waves and crushing storm surge collapsed Casino Pier and Funtown Pier, tossing roller coasters into the angry Atlantic ocean. Beachfront souvenir shops and pizza parlors on the boardwalk were flooded and swept away. The historic boardwalk long enjoyed by vacationing families for generations was severely damaged and eventually demolished by town officials after the storm. 


Shortly before Sandy hit the coast of New Jersey, martial law was declared in Seaside Heights. Police checkpoints sprung up at entry points to the barrier island and law enforcement patrolled the bay between the island and Toms River, N.J. to prevent looters, residents, gawkers, and media from gaining access to the devastation. Three days after the storm, the Police Chief of Seaside Heights allowed a few reporters and photographers to access the island under Police supervision for a few short minutes. I was fortunate enough to jump onto a small mini-bus full of photographers from local, national, and international media outlets to be ferried over the causeway into Seaside Heights on a media tour of sorts. With only 10 minutes allotted to shoot at each pier, I scrambled over debris quickly composing, shooting, and moving to avoid being caught in the pack of swarming media. The destruction was total, striking, bizzare. Over the next month all I could think about in my spare time was trying to get back to Seaside Heights with more time and better light to photograph. I got that chance on December 1st, just after the 1-month anniversary of the storm. I arrived on the island before sunrise to find the police checkpoints largely unmanned, which made access to the boardwalk very easy. Throughout the day I had a few run-ins with State Troopers with varying levels of tolerance for my presence, but I was largely free to roam and photograph in the beautiful morning light. Success!

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The Star Jet roller coaster that once operated on Casino Pier sits in the Atlantic Ocean off of Seaside Heights, N.J. after being placed there by Hurricane Sandy on October 29, 2012. Luke Sharrett for The New York Times

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Seaside Heights officials ordered the demolition of the boardwalk at Casino Pier after Hurricane Sandy forced thousands of cubic feet of sand underneath it, disfiguring the historic wooden boardwalk. Luke Sharrett for The New York Times

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Debris clutters the deserted boardwalk at Funtown Pier in Seaside Heights, N.J. after being damaged by Hurricane Sandy on Saturday, December 1, 2012. Luke Sharrett for The New York Times

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A New Jersey State Trooper patrols the deserted boardwalk at Funtown Pier in Seaside Heights, N.J. after it was damaged by Hurricane Sandy on Saturday, December 1, 2012. Luke Sharrett for The New York Times

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The remnants of Funtown Pier stand near amusement park rides a month after being severely damaged by Hurricane Sandy at Seaside Heights, N.J. Luke Sharrett for The New York Times

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Carousel Arcade, which was destroyed by Hurricane Sandy, is seen at Funtown Pier in Seaside Heights, N.J. on Saturday, December 1, 2012. Luke Sharrett for The New York Times

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A roller coaster at Funtown pier was severely damaged by Hurricane Sandy when it made landfall at Seaside Heights, N.J. Luke Sharrett for The New York Times

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A gum ball machine was smashed after Carousel Arcade was destroyed by Hurricane Sandy at Funtown Pier in Seaside Heights, N.J. Seen on Saturday, December 1, 2012. Luke Sharrett for The New York Times

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Carousel Arcade owner Robert Stewart surveys damage from Hurricane Sandy at Funtown Pier in Seaside Heights, N.J. on Saturday, December 1, 2012. Luke Sharrett for The New York Times

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(L-R) Lorenzo Lazama and Sal Faruolo take photos of damage from Hurricane Sandy at Casino Pier in Seaside Heights, N.J. on Saturday, December 1, 2012. Luke Sharrett for The New York Times

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Lorenzo Lazama watches as an excavator digs sand out from underneath The Beachcomber Bar and Grill after it was damaged by Hurricane Sandy at Casino Pier in Seaside Heights, N.J. Seen on Saturday, December 1, 2012. Luke Sharrett for The New York Times

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(L-R) Antonio Rocco, owner Michael Carbone, Sixto Calvadio, and Sal Faruolo walk down a slope to dig sand out from underneath The Beachcomber Bar and Grill after it was damaged by Hurricane Sandy at Casino Pier in Seaside Heights, N.J. Seen on Saturday, December 1, 2012. Luke Sharrett for The New York Times

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Miniature American flags sit in the place where the boardwalk used to stand before being demolished by construction crews in the weeks following Hurricane Sandy. Seen here on Saturday, December 1, 2012. Luke Sharrett for The New York Times

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A resident of Seaside Heights, N.J. who wished to be identified only as Ned shovels sand away from a house near Casino Pier while cleaning up after Hurricane Sandy on Saturday, December 1, 2012. Luke Sharrett for The New York Times

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A resident of Seaside Heights, N.J. who wished to remain unidentified dumps sand from a wheelbarrow on the beach near Casino Pier while cleaning up after Hurricane Sandy on Saturday, December 1, 2012. Luke Sharrett for The New York Times

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John Yogg of Seaside Heights, N.J. carries waterlogged debris away from a boardwalk front store near Casino Pier while cleaning up after Hurricane Sandy on Saturday, December 1, 2012. Luke Sharrett for The New York Times

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Josue Saldana leans against a lamp post while observing other residents of Seaside Heights, N.J. try to photograph the beach near Casino Pier without being stopped by New Jersey State Troopers on Saturday, December 1, 2012. Luke Sharrett for The New York Times

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Volunteers took a break after unloading sand dune fencing while working to repair dunes damaged by Hurricane Sandy in South Seaside Park, N.J. on Saturday, December 1, 2012. Luke Sharrett for The New York Times

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A plastic flower sits near a beachfront home damaged by Hurricane Sandy in Seaside Park, N.J. Seen on Saturday, December 1, 2012. Luke Sharrett for The New York Times

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An Elmo and other stuffed prizes from a boardwalk game lay in the sand near Casino Pier after Hurricane Sandy at Seaside Heights, N.J. on Saturday, December 1, 2012. Luke Sharrett for The New York Times

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Debris from the storm was collected and deposited on the municipal softball field in Seaside Heights.

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Thanks for looking!

**Photos copyright Luke Sharrett and The New York Times**

3 comments:

JoeAhlquistPhotography said...

Awesome photos, Luke.

Robert Heffernan said...

I am very amazed by the data of this weblog and i am glad i experienced a look more than the blog. thank you so much for sharing these kinds of excellent information.
motels in seaside heights

D. C. Markey said...

I used to work at Carousel Arcade . When the Carbone family had it. Sad sight. Though it was nice to see Mike Carbone was OK in following photos .