Ocean County residents are still going through a litany of insurance red tape and a myriad of local government ordinances just to be able to get back in their homes. Truth is in many areas, there are still largely abandoned neighborhoods. And it’s that type of scenario right in my proverbial backyard.
As individuals climb out of aggravation and the despair of being displaced and left adrift, I thought I would continue to ask some of our own musicians about their stories dealing with the storm. I wanted to know how they’ve been dealing with getting back on top and get a general idea of how far all of this actually is appearing in the rear-view mirror. I gave print space to a couple of local “survivors” of the hurricane mayhem.
Amanda Tucci, Bassist/Vocalist – Hair Metal Time Machine
“Where I live is usually only a voluntary evacuation zone since it is in a neighborhood with lagoons, but after this storm I doubt it will be that way in the future. The night of the storm, my family ended up evacuating quickly around. It was raining really hard, and I noticed some guy got his car almost stuck in the road and was asking for help by waving a flashlight. My dad came back inside and said to grab what we could and get out. In a matter of five minutes, the water level came from just in the street to my driveway.
Thankfully we had friends to stay with for the next few days, but my neighborhood was a mess. It was about a day before water receded enough to go back home by car without having to walk a while through water and dangerous debris.
It’s been months later, and people are still fixing their houses. So much had to be gutted, cleaned, repainted, or thrown away. My brother, boyfriend Andy, and I all lost our cars. We had a drum set and other instruments in our garage that hopefully may be saved through a drying process.
My grandparents were much less fortunate and will need to find somewhere else to live. They lived in West Point Island, and their entire first floor is currently ripped apart to the bare bones of the house. This terrible storm has cost so many people their homes, cars, and extremely sentimental personal belongings. Not only have so many of us lost material things, but many of us are now deeper in debt. I did not work long enough at my job to get any form of compensation for missing work due to this storm, which made buying another car impossible.
I currently have a lease that I hope to buy in three years. We also have all lost a piece of our state that we held dear. Places of joy and laughter were destroyed, including bars and clubs that all of us musicians enjoyed playing at and visiting. Thankfully most of these areas are being rebuilt and reopened.
EMTs, police, firefighters, and many other emergency workers did their best to save as much as they could. Communities of people banded together to help neighbors and complete strangers. I am just praying that next year’s hurricane season is not anywhere near as bad as this one. But it’s always in our minds now, you know? I can’t help but wonder if our lifestyle and community has been changed forever.”
James Dalton, Singer/Songwriter/Troubadour
“My family’s business was destroyed in Bay Head, my girlfriend’s home, the house I live in, were surrounded by water, the basement was full of water, and the major oil spill forced us to relocate. Friends displaced, family threatened, venues gone, jobs gone, and lives too. I remember going outside of the house, located in Point Pleasant Beach on the Manasquan River, before high tide to move my van to a safer place, and as I waded through running water above my knees, the large trees above were thrashing about, the power was off, and it was still going to get worse.
In the days after, it was a game of survival. Try to save what we could from the family business that has been a part of me for most of my life. Salvaging what merchandise could be salvaged, throwing away what needed to be thrown away due to an unethical landlord that suddenly gave us a week to vacate. He gave us a week to sift through and process thousands and thousands of dollars in losses.
A week of standing in the cold, damp and the mold without lights or heat, rushing things out of town that could be saved to some storage unit and having to go through two military check points in and out every day, on every trip, suspected of being a criminal and questioned, while disaster tourists lined the streets snapping sad faces next to their own personal piles of tragedy, of hopes and dreams wrecked and discarded. Strangers took their turns stealing these private family moments with fake sympathies and clumsy smiles. It was fucking insulting.
The house I had been forced from is now livable, I no longer have to flash an ID to enter the town I grew up in, and the family business has opened with a very hopeful future in a different location and a much better landlord. I drive around looking at the rebuilding efforts and knowing that there are real possibilities to get back to living in New Jersey.”
As we move into other coastal areas in upcoming issues, I urge you to contact me with your story. Your encounters are important to us here at the Aquarian, and we want to give voice to the real situations that are affecting fellow music makers around the Garden State.
Please email your experiences to firstname.lastname@example.org and continue to follow along as we continue our “Stories Along The Coast” campaign.