We were lucky.
We lost power for only two weeks after Hurricane Sandy had battered the Jersey Shore. We were far enough inland from the rapidly rising Barnegat Bay. Three miles of pinelands and marsh dammed the flood waters from reaching our neighborhood.
Some weren’t so lucky.
Homes resting on the lip of the Bay were swallowed up by the undiscriminating Storm, then spat out indiscriminately along the coast.
Cars, washing machines, seldom used power tools lay underwater in an Atlantis of all the things that were supposed to make our lives easier. Now insurance companies calculated their value by water weight.
Across the bridge in Seaside, the Atlantic Ocean and the Bay rose to meet one another on the Boulevard that divided the island. Their brines’ violent mingling submerged some homes while it uprooted others, carrying them several hundred yards away from their foundations. Cinder blocks remained in carefully arranged rectangles like well-plotted archeological excavations.
Five years later and many are still trying to restore their lives to the way they were before the Storm.
Looking through the broken window of one ravaged home, one can see on the living room walls, clusters of faint mold spots like archipelagos adrift in a clinically white sea.
Five years later and a stubborn bay wind has stripped off the paint from another structure, exposing a ribcage of weathered timber.
A patchwork quilt of plywood, broken shingles, and faded shutters drapes the front of another home long abandoned.
But luck can change for the better, too.
Five years later and the houses that were lifted off of their foundations by the surf were lifted again. Lifted high, high above the ground, this time by hydraulic jacks, in anticipation of future storms.
Still others have been primed and painted an unblemished white, waiting the gentler marks and feather-like scratches of the day-to-day.
About the Author & Photographer: Christine Cassidy
Christine Cassidy is a self-taught artist who works in photography, fiber, collage and assemblage. Her photographs have appeared in F-Stop Magazine, NYC-Arts, Filtered Magazine, and twohundredby200.
Christine grew up in New Jersey among artists and makers; her father was a bricklayer who built her childhood home while her mother furnished it with the hooked rugs she hand crafted. Her older sister Kate Tevis was a graphic designer and collage artist.
Christine loves Buster Keaton, e.e. cummings, punk rock, and living in her tiny studio apartment in New York City.