The day after a friend sent me the image below. The house was still standing, and someone had even gone over and raised the flag up the flag pole. It was an inspirational image at the time.
My mother never invested much money in the house - it is a true beach house - sandy and uncomplicated. Mom was raised on the NJ Shore and knows the hazards of shore life - she lived through the 1962 hurricane and is aware that building houses on sandbars is not the best strategy. The house, however, was filled with memories.
When we were finally let in it was a surreal scene. These pics were taken on that first day. Note the water line and markings from all of the floating debris and furniture along the wall.
It was odd how some things survived while others completely disappeared. You can see from the images that the house fared pretty well structurally. It's still on its foundation and is pretty much intact.
The water blew out some of the the windows and doors on the ground floor. The day we went down was beautiful - sunny and clear - and all was calm in the house, so it was hard to imagine the water at the height of the storm, rushing in and out of rooms, but it had left its trail.
Not much was disturbed above the waterline. So things on the mantle went untouched, hats on hooks stayed in place, and pots an pans hanging on racks were ready for the next meal. Upstairs the beds were still made and everything was in its place. Eery.
Who knew that refrigerators floated?
The soft goods like the pull-out sofa and rugs were disgusting. They were the first things to get dragged out.
It was just amazing where things ended up, and what made it through unscathed. Note the antique hutch that is on the floor in two pieces in the image below - filled with glass and china - the only thing that broke inside was one martini coup.
The damp silt that gets on everything is unimaginable.
This chair floated out, around the house, and ended up in the entry to the crawl space below the house - as did many books and other things. It was hard to figure out why and how things travelled where they did.
The the rear deck floated about six feet north.
Mom's car in the garage ended up perpendicular to doors, banged up and waterlogged.
Every drawer in the kitchen, and bowl under the counter was filled with bay water.
40" of water.
Three trips down with my Mother and my Brother and it is pretty much cleaned out.
"There they are!"Our dining chairs ended up three houses away - in the neighbors trash pile.
Others fared much worse. These images were taken on our last trip down and the Army Corp of Engineers had been hard at work filling in around collapsed houses to preserve the island, but you can see the devastation was huge. Many houses collapsed and others are just gone into the sea.
For my family there are many decisions to be made, yet many opportunities ahead. Thankfully this was not a primary residence, but we are worried about mold, and raising it against the next flood, and it needs a new kitchen, bathroom, and electrical - at least. But it made it through the storm, and I might say that is a testament to its simplicity. It is an old heavy wooden box - no insulation, no sheetrock, and honestly most of the furnishings that made it through the storm were antiques. The house started its life as a garage in the early part of the 20th century and has weathered many storms. In fact, on the day that my parents bought it in 1979 there was a hurricane that brought the bay into the street and right up to floor level, but no water went into the house, and my father closed on it! We always knew this was a possibility, but I have a new appreciation for the reality of flood damage, and my heart goes out to all who lost their homes in the storm.