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Seaside Heights

All that history just washed away

Mike Carbone is a resident of Toms River, New Jersey, and is the bar manager at the Beachcomber Bar and Grill in Seaside Heights. During Hurricane Sandy, his father kept the business open, until eventually the flooding forced the business to close and the remaining patrons evacuated. The business sustained tremendous damage from the flooding that accompanied the storm, but the Carbone’s managed to reopen the following January. In his narrative, Mike talks about his experiences during the storm, the damage it did to his business, and the challenges he has faced not only from the hurricane but also to the fire that later ravaged the Funtown Pier.

No, never in a million years

Courtney Chibbaro lives in South Seaside Park, New Jersey. After Hurricane Sandy, she became heavily involved in the recovery and rebuilding efforts in barrier island communities. Notably, she organized a “Christmas on the Island” party and gift-giving caravan that brought a bit of Christmas joy to people from Lavallette to Seaside. In her narrative, Courtney discusses challenges of recovery and rebuilding as well as the spirit of community that emerged after the storm.

Somewhere between depressed and desperate

Al Spangler resides in Seaside Park, New Jersey, where he is Pastor of the Union Church of Seaside Park. During Hurricane Sandy, he remained in his church and watched as the storm brought its fury to the Shore. In the aftermath, he has helped members of his community to find strength in a time of emotional turmoil. In his narrative, he speaks of his experiences during the storm as well as thoughts about the recovery, and he notes that his pastoral responsibilities were both a burden and a blessing during this difficult time.

My kids grew up here

Gina Carey-Smith is a college professor who lives in Florence, New Jersey. For seventeen years, she has owned a small, 400 square foot bungalow in Seaside Park, two blocks from the ocean and four blocks from the bay. Hurricane Sandy wiped out the little beach home, causing so much damage that it needed to be leveled and rebuilt. However, since it was considered a ‘second home,’ and since Gina owned the house but not the land on which it sat, she was both unable to have flood insurance and could not get help from FEMA. Unable to afford reconstruction, she was forced to sell for a fraction of its value. In this narrative, Gina talks about how has dealt with losing a summer home that held 14 years of childhood memories for her kids.

You got to keep going for the kids

Brian and Jennifer Garofalo live with their children in Toms River, New Jersey. Hurricane Sandy not only caused tremendous damage to their home, but it also destroyed their business, The Beach Bar, on the Seaside Heights Boardwalk. For the past two years, the Garofalos have struggled to put their lives back together. They abandoned their business in Seaside permanently after the Funtown Pier fire, and they are still in the process of rebuilding and lifting their home. In their narrative, the couple stresses the importance of family, perseverance, and maintaining hope.

Stand up, shake the dust off, get back to work

Michael Jurusz is a Jersey native and owner and head chef of the Atlantic Bar and Grill in Seaside Park. Chef Mike, as he is called, has in a number of places but says there’s nothing better than the “Jersey Attitude.” Though Hurricane Sandy spared his restaurant, Mike witnessed a tremendous amount of destruction in Seaside and nearby communities. In his narrative, he speaks to the losses in his community, as well as his efforts to help others in the recovery process.

The iconic photo from Sandy

Lou Cirigliano is the Director of Operations for Casino Pier in Seaside Heights, New Jersey. A popular tourist destination, Casino Pier was partially destroyed by Hurricane Sandy. Its iconic Jet Star roller coaster – which fell into the Atlantic Ocean – became a symbol of the destruction the storm brought to the shore. In his narrative, Lou talks about the struggle of attracting customers to the pier following Hurricane Sandy, amidst claims that the boardwalk has not yet recovered from the storm. He hopes to restore people’s belief in the resiliency and strength of the shore.

Be prepared, be aware, it can happen anywhere

Nicki Ann Cordi is a resident of Toms River, New Jersey. She is the owner/director of The Ultimate Scholar II, a community daycare center in Seaside Heights, New Jersey. After Hurricane Sandy, it took Cordi eight months to reopen, which, as of this interview, she has owned for 11 years.

It Wasn’t a Normal Workday for a While

Kassandra Putman was working for Seaside Heights Police Department as an emergency dispatcher while Hurricane Sandy took her toll on the Jersey Shore. Stranded on the island for 72 hours post-hurricane, Putman recalls her biggest challenge being finding food and water. More than two years after the storm she reminds the public of the importance of listening to your local police.

It was like Reliving a Nightmare

Michaela Burbic was living in Seaside Heights, New Jersey at the time of Hurricane Sandy. The 21-year-old mother of a newborn boy and a 3-year-old girl was without a permanent living situation for nearly a year and a half after the storm. More than two years after Hurricane Sandy, Burbic shines light on the horrors of being a resident in an area that was virtually destroyed by the hurricane.