Hurricane Sandy: One Year Later

The recent anniversary of Hurricane Sandy’s arrival to the NJ coast is a time for reflecting back and looking ahead for students and faculty members.

courtesy of Mr. Brandis
The flooding destroyed the drywall in the home of Mr. Brandis. The water height can be seen where the dry wall of cut from the floor up on the righthand side of this image.

Fear and uncertainty brewed in senior Mike Bash as he drove to his beach house.

Traveling to the house was normally a drive filled with anticipation and excitement as he looked forward to days of sun, fun, and relaxation. However, after Hurricane Sandy pummeled the Atlantic seaboard in late October 2012, his eyes saw a new reality as he pulled up to the house: five boats were laying the front yard. He knew at that moment a lot of work would be needed to restore the home. Its been one year since then, and things are still not back to normal.

The one year anniversary from when Sandy hit was Tuesday, October 29, and the damage is still there.  Although the immediate Hammonton area did not suffer the same degree of damage that those near the coast did, the effects of Sandy rippled across the area as it changed the lives of friends, family, and even those at the high school. Science teacher Ms. Myra Doughty, aide Ms.Nancy Gillies, aide Mr. Chris Gillies, special education teacher Mrs. Bash (Mike’s mom), and vice-principal Mr. Greg Brandis all had property damaged by the storm.

“Anything below four feet was ruined,” said Bash, whose family owns a house in Mystic Island.  “Some walls were ripped down and the dock had disappeared.”

There was not only physical damage, though.  For some people, there was also emotional damage as the storm affected their entire life.

“Seeing it was very depressing,” said Mr. Brandis, whose primary residence suffered significant damage from the storm. “The hardest part was explaining it to my wife.”

A year later, people are still working to fix their houses.  Bash is hopeful that his family beach house will done within the next few months, but Brandis, on the other hand, has a longer road to travel.

“Our lives are not yet close to being back to normal,” said Mr. Brandis.  “It may take another whole year or so for not just my family, but our community.”

Even those who didn’t own a damaged house felt a sense of loss.

“I was depressed because I had so many good memories in that house,” said senior Jake Brodbeck, a friend of Bash’s.

Locally, there was not a lot of damage, but many schools were closed for a few days and had to compensate by losing some holidays later in the year.

Students and staff did reach out to help those affected. Organizations such as the Key Club helped support local efforts to provide food and water to the area, and individuals assisted those in need on a one-on-one basis.

“The school was supportive of the individuals who lost their homes,” said Brandis.

A year later, those affected across the state have made significant progress, but there is still much more work that needs to be done. Sandy certainly left her mark, but the residents of New Jersey are working hard to reclaim their turf.