it's hard to believe one year has passed since this storm wrecked havoc on our region, destroying homes of my friends and devastating the towns I not only lived in at the Jersey Shore, but places so close to my heart. Union Beach, NJ was one of the worst towns in NJ hit,
yet so many people-including people that live in the same county (Monmouth) never heard of it. I knew of Union Beach because my long time friend, musician Mike Wells, is from this town and I spent a lot of time there. I contacted Mike to see if we could get in town to take
photos for a story to show people this forgotten town. So along with my photographer husband and good friend Julie Dermansky who was shooting for Corbis, we met Mike's father, Frank, and the Police Chief who took us around town. At first when people saw us with cameras,
they were wondering why we were there but then upon hearing we wanted to bring attention to this town so they could get help, the people were so warm and wonderful. They lost EVERYTHING, yet there they were-offering us food and coffee. I wrote this last year:
Union Beach, New Jersey is a small town of a little more than 6000 residents. Nestled on the Raritan Bay in Northern Monmouth County, less than an hour outside New York City, it is a close knit friendly town where almost everyone knows one another by name and even
non residents will get a wave as they drive thru town. It is reminiscent of a small mid western town-friendly, warm, inviting, and many of the residents grew up here. Many have moved away, only to return to raise their own families here.What most people don’t know is that
Union Beach suffered the most damage of all the towns in New Jersey, trailing behind Atlantic City.
This past October 12, I had a launch for my book, "Bruce Springsteen In Focus Photographs 1980-2012" and my best friend from college, Donna Marino, flew in from Indiana. En route back to the city the following day, I took her on a tour of the shore towns since she never
really saw them (she grew up on Long Island). I especially wanted to show her Union Beach.
Almost a year later, the rubble is gone and there are empty lots and some construction but the people are still as warm and friendly. I told her how much I love this town and if I moved out of NYC, how I would love to move there as people waved to my car as we drove past.
the roller coaster from Fun Town Pier in Seaside Heights, NJ. I know this town so well...I lived there for several years in the mid 80’s in a cute apartment on a lagoon and went
on this roller coaster LOTS of times. I feel guilty saying this is one of the most beautiful images I have ever taken because it is just full of so much sadness.
I remember texting fellow photographer Chris Smith who lives in Lavalette and planned on staying put throughout the Hurricane. I told him I thought he should leave town,
saying this hurricane was going to be worse than Irene. He insisted on staying. It was 2 days later that I FINALLY got a hold of him-THANKFULLY, he did leave town but lost a lot
of things, including his new boat.
It’s hard to believe it’s been a year and so many people are still so bad off, without homes. Living on the Upper West Side in NYC, I have said we live in a bubble-we had power and
didn’t even have much rain. We are fortunate that we have an extra room and bathroom and were able to house friends who lost everything. It was the first time int he 10 years
living here that I realized why we moved from our tiny studio in the Village. I hope we never have to see another Hurricane like Sandy, but I am fearful that this was just the
first of many we will see in our lifetime.
a house in the bay in Mantaloking, NJ
Angels Gather Here-708 Brook Ave, Union Beach