Community Gathers for Sandy Anniversary at Tuckerton Seaport

Nov 02, 2016
Photo by: Pat Johnson The Community Gathering marking the fourth anniversary of Superstorm Sandy was held in the Tucker’s Island Lighthouse at the Tuckerton Seaport on Saturday.

Over 200 area residents attended the Tuckerton Seaport’s Community Gathering on Saturday, Oct. 29 to mark the fourth anniversary of Superstorm Sandy.

Area restaurants and stores provided lunch and rocker Billy Walton provided entertainment. The Seaport grounds and attractions were open free of charge.

Former Tuckerton Mayor Buck Evans recounted his experience during and right after the storm.

“It started around 1 p.m. with heavy rains and wind, then around 3 o’clock there was a break in the rain and we were able to get the rest of the people who wanted to get out (of Tuckerton Beach) and around 4:40 p.m. we lost electricity and the transformers were going crazy on Bay Avenue. This was on Monday (Oct. 29). It ended around 2 a.m. on Tuesday.”

Evans remembered the tide coming in fast. “Water was up over the top of the fire hydrants on South Green Street during low tide on Monday. We saw one man coming down the street with his dog and we picked him up and took him to town. I was in the mayor’s office (in the Salt Box on the grounds of the Seaport) the whole time. We brought all our maintenance trucks here to the Seaport because it’s the highest point in Tuckerton.

“At sun-up Tuesday morning I got a call from Kenny Sloan in public works. He said, ‘You’ve got to see this.’  We had to go down to get some batteries out of the police station and there were boats all over the roadway blocking South Green Street. Then we got them moved out of the way and the smell of oil and gasoline was overpowering. We just stopped and got the fire department to come down.

“We drove down in my Avalanche (truck) and it was my first look. Oh my goodness, debris was everywhere, boats were all piled up in the marinas. I saw my own house had some debris on the steps, but I couldn’t go inside. Our goal was to get to Parker Road and that was the worst of it. Altogether we lost 37 homes, completely destroyed. Most of the debris from the properties lost on Parker was washed onto Carroll Avenue. Natural gas was shooting in the air, so it was not safe and we locked it down.”

It took almost a week before residents were allowed back into the beach area to assess damage because of the natural gas situation. All residential and commercial gas pipes had to be found and turned off. Evans said the officials in the borough worked day and night to get services restored and emergency provisions in place.

“We had topnotch people working in the borough: (recently retired clerk) Grace DiElmo (worked with newly appointed clerk and administrator) Jenny Gleghorn and (emergency management chief) Harold Spedding. We also had help from Jon Runyon at the time, the governor and (Congressman Frank) LoBiondo.

“Our residences in Tuckerton Beach were about 85 percent occupied at the time of the storm and now, four years later, we are about 65 percent occupied. There are still a lot of vacant lots,” said Evans.

“We lost a lot of friends that are not coming back,” he said. “We’ve moved on and met new friends because that’s who we are; we’re a community.”

Tuckerton Seaport Executive Director Paul Hart spoke to part of the gathering in the Tucker’s Island Lighthouse. “This is a celebration of survival, four years later, and there are still people who haven’t gotten back into their homes. We care most about that, but many of us four years later are able to say we have recovered and that is true of the Seaport. The entire site of the Seaport is open. It took many people and many hours, and we are very proud of that.”

— Pat Johnson

patjohnson@thesandpaper.net

 

 

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