Update: President Obama came to visit today. Too bad I couldn’t see it because they still haven’t allowed evacuees to return to the island yet. The only people there are the ones who were unable or too stubborn to leave the island in the face of the hurricane.
My thanks to those sending well wishes to me and my hurricane-ravaged town of Brigantine, NJ. It’s a beautiful beach town that’s immediately north of Atlantic City. The picture below was taken from an AC casino and shows the one bridge in and out of Brigantine. Five years ago, when I was scouting for a beach place, a great friend told me to go there because it’s just a great little town that happens to have a big, fabulous beach. I’ve posted beach pics and other info over the past few years, and hopefully you’ve seen some of it.
Now, it’s a different story. (pics from NBC-40 Atlantic City)
Second, when the storm was on its way, I had to make a decision whether or not to evacuate. As you can’t see very well above, but you’ll easily see below, half of the town is underwater.
Flood insurance being all paid up, I grabbed what was needed when we were told we had one day to evacuate. I thought about staying for a few reasons. One, I could. Two, I’m on the second floor of a duplex, so I wasn’t worried about actually drowning. But I didn’t stay because I would have had to leave my car on the first floor, and I didn’t want to risk that being washed away or ruined. I also didn’t stay because most hurricane deaths are not from drowning but from being hit with flying things, so being on the second floor would have made that more likely.
Another reason I didn’t stay is because I have kids, and I wasn’t sure how long I’d be stuck on the island and unable to see them. I certainly wasn’t going to keep them with me, no way, but I also didn’t want to lose any time either. As of right now – almost 10AM on Wednesday after a Sunday afternoon evacuation deadline, the island is still sealed off by water, and I still haven’t heard when it’ll reopen. Kids change how you look at things. If I were just a guy, no kids or anything, I likely would have stayed.
Another reason I didn’t stay is because I wasn’t sure how selfish that might seem. Why do people stay? Do they want to be part of the story? Do they want their 15 minutes on the news? Do they think it’s exciting to have a hurricane literally surrounding you? I guess it might be, if you’ve been watching the news, you’ve seen there was a very real physical risk, and not the kind you get just crossing the street.
So now, being shut out of going home, I have to wonder. I’ve been checking Twitter, using #brigantine, and it seems everyone is tweeting about the phony shark photo that they don’t realize is phony. On Facebook, people who evacuated are complaining that the news isn’t talking about Brigantine at all. It might be because the news vans can’t get on the island, but I’m getting scattered pics online from the NBC news affiliate in Atlantic City, and what I’m seeing is promising.
Brigantine has a very distinct difference at my south end of the island compared to the north end, and it was one of the reasons I bought at the south end. The north is covered in a web of cable, telephone, and electrical wires on your standard tall poles. In the south, all those wires are underground.
All of the pictures I’m seeing of flooded streets, tossed boats, and submerged houses are all on streets with those above-ground wires. That tells me that there’s likely no interesting storm damage photos from the south end. And that’s a good thing.
Where I am now is about a 90-minute drive from the island, and I’m going to head back down shortly after posting this to see if I can yet gain access. I’ve heard about some looting, but I’m not worried because I have very little of value there. Only small TV’s, nothing worth stealing except my laptop, which is with me now. I heard about 50% of the residents did not evacuate, and most of them probably had no other family or places to go. But I also suspect that some of those people stayed behind in order to see what they could find when nobody was looking.