A Love Letter to the Jersey Shore

Will my daughter remember the boardwalk as her parents do?

We survived Hurricane Sandy. North Jersey was spared the rain, but we did not fare so well with the wind. It took five days for us to have our power restored, and now, a full week later, I know many people who are still waiting for the utility companies to flip that magic switch.

We lost a small downspout gutter to Sandy, who added insult to (minor) injury by tossing all of the leaves from the 100-foot oaks bordering our property up and over our house. They landed in our driveway, where they stayed thanks to the retaining walls.

Others were not so fortunate. Some of the towns that full-time Jersey Shore residents — along with part-timers and retirees who had finally realized their dreams of owning homes overlooking the Atlantic Ocean — called home barely exist, merely points on a map. An angry ocean pushed unimaginable amounts of water onto the land, overtaking the coastline I’ve come to know and love over the decades.

Seaside Heights’ Funtown pier in a watery grave in the Atlantic. Dozens of Mantoloking homes burned. Boats previously docked in the bayside marinas strewn on the bridges linking the barrier islands to the mainland — and crashed into houses, and in the middle of what were formerly streets, now sandy (Sandy!) and impassable.

Jersey guidos and guidettes lamenting the damage to Joey Harrison’s Surf Club. Homeowners left with nothing, not even mementos. Vacationers — even us “bennies” — feeling the pain, too.

Ortley Beach. Long Beach Island. Atlantic City. Sea Bright. Greetings, Asbury Park. Destruction, everywhere.

I wonder if, decades from now, my daughter’s memories of the Jersey Shore will be the same as mine. Will she remember Mommy and Daddy holding her on the little train ride on the Point Pleasant boardwalk? Will she have walked barefoot on the wooden boards, a rite of passage, daring them to pierce her little-girl skin with a splinter? She’ll likely never brave the oceanfront skyride at Seaside Heights, as Sandy laid waste to that, too.

It’s going to take a long time to rebuild. Afterward, it may not look like the Shore Points of our youth, the destination on the Turnpike and Parkway signs guiding us to our summer utopias. But it will still be our Jersey Shore. We’ll make it ours once again.

Jersey Strong.

Rock You Like a Hurricane… Sandy.

We’re getting ready to weather one of the largest (area-wise) hurricanes, ever. It’s a 500-mile-wide behemoth named Sandy that’s decided it’s going to pick on the Northeast. It hasn’t even hit the coastline yet, and already water is flooding coastal communities.

We’re not that close to the coast — just outside of New York City — so any water we get will depend on how much it rains. Our basement flooded a few inches during Hurricane/Tropical Storm Irene last August, but only because we’d received record-breaking rainfall earlier in the month.

This time, I’m concerned about the wind and what it’ll do to the two 100-foot-tall oak trees and 80-foot maple that border our backyard. I’m pretty certain the power will go out — we went without it for four-and-a-half days after Irene. But that was summer, and it was in the mid-80s, so we barbecued our food as it defrosted. This time, it’ll be in the 50s and we won’t have heat. I can’t wait.

So our outdoor items are secure, the air conditioners are finally out of the windows, and we were able to get our hands on a few bags of ice. I’ve made cookies, Italian pasta salad and chili. There’s nothing left to do but wait.

Hurricane Irene: Weathering the Storm

It may be old news for the rest of the country, but we here in Northern New Jersey (and in many other parts of the Northeast) are still reeling from Hurricane Irene, which hit us last Saturday night. Torrential rains and high winds wreaked havoc on our town and neighborhood. Many homes flooded when our local rivers spilled their banks, creating lakes where there once were streets and intersections. Less than half a block away, two 100-foot trees broke free of the sodden earth and toppled over toward homes.

As the blue skies opened up around noon on Sunday, we considered ourselves very lucky to only have lost power overnight — it was restored by 8 a.m. We borrowed Wet-Vacs from my father-in-law and my brother, and dried out the few inches of water that had pooled in the basement and garage, thanking our lucky stars that the damage was fairly limited.

As we were sucking the water out of the last corner in the garage, we heard a loud “CRACK” followed by “BZZZZT! BZZZZT!” And we came out to this sight:














And as we panned to the left, toward the intersection, we saw the downed tree had caused this:




















Yes, that is a telephone pole… snapped in half. The wires to the left and right of where the tree landed were brought down, as well as in three other directions from this pole. Somehow, the tree only destroyed some fencing and a kids’ (empty) play house in the yard and didn’t cause major damage to the house.

But from Sunday through Wednesday, we were without power. My in-laws were also without power, but we spent most of our time with them (did I mention that Mr. Not-So-Frugal and I were home on ‘vacation’ this week?) and Baby Frugalista adjusted pretty well to the lack of routine. We tried to salvage our refrigerator items, but the frozen foods were a lost cause, even when placed in a cooler packed with ice. But it could have been much, much worse. We survived and had minimal damage to our home. And a big thanks to the utility crews from Ohio who worked their asses off for two days to restore our power!

Here are some other views of the Hurricane Irene aftermath:


























Sadly, the best part about getting our power back? Being able to blow-dry my hair again — with my flippy hair, I was looking like a poor man’s Farrah Fawcett for a few days there.

Posts That Piqued My Interest: Now It Feels Like Fall!

We almost floated away this week, thanks to the massive rainstorm we got on Thursday and Friday, fueled by remnants of Tropical Storm Nicole. While we were lucky enough not to have any flooding, I think other folks in town had some problems. However, the storm cleared out and left us with more-seasonable temperatures — upper 60s and clear blue skies.

I’m also amazed that our car insurance company raised our premiums for the coming year — the first time they’ve had to “implement a general rate increase” in 14 YEARS. It’s a very good insurer and hard to get into, so I can’t complain too much. I’ve been with them for 8 or 9 years now. What I can complain about is the fact that it costs more to insure my 7-year-old Pontiac Grand Am GT sedan than it costs to cover Mr. NSF’s 1-year-old Ford Escape SUV. It seems my car is considered a sports car, which, at 6 cylinders and a whopping 170 horsepower, it certainly is not. But again, the insurance premiums are pretty darned reasonable for New Jersey — under $1000 for each car, full coverage (liability/theft/collision).

Posts That Piqued My Interest

Layering Your Deals at Frugal Confessions

Will 2012 Be the End of the World? at Saving Money Today

The Brightest Bulb at Joe Taxpayer

3 Tips for Buying Life Insurance for the First Time at Money Crashers

Considering Property Taxes When House Shopping at Consumerism Commentary

7 Frugal Moving Tips at My Dollar Plan

Can You Keep It Simple With a Newborn? at Simple Life in France

The Penny Frugalista on the Web

Sunday Link Love @ Ultimate Money Blog featured Hoarders Die in Their Piles of Crap