What Was In Mantoloking 'Just Wasn't There Anymore'

After riding around Point Beach and Bay Head, and seeing pictures of the Mantolokng Bridge, writer Lauren Jager came to grips with the impact of Hurricane Sandy

As the two-week mark approaches to when the catastrophic Hurricane Sandy pummeled our state, my eyes still quickly fill with tears as more and more pictures come out.

The amount of damage statewide is unbelievable. Of course, being from Point Pleasant Boro, the devastation that has changed our precious, beautiful shoreline forever is literally gut-wrenching to the thousands of us who were lucky enough to grow up here.

On the Wednesday after the storm, my husband and I rode our bikes up towards the beach. We both needed to see what happened with our own eyes. We needed to see something - anything, really, because at that point, our power was out and all we had was a battery operated radio at home. We hadn't really heard much.

Neither of us was expecting to see what we saw. And I know I will never forget what I saw, because I couldn't believe what I was seeing and what I was looking right at it. 

I have been riding my bike all over the place for years, but especially during the last few years, when things were pretty stressful in my life. I took these bike rides and carried my iPod with me - turning the volume up nice and loud as I rode down to the beach - as a way to just help me relax.

One of the roads that is my absolute favorite is Osborne Avenue, down in Bay Head. If you grew up here, you know Osborne, unfortunately, floods quite frequently, which is why I was afraid to make that turn off Bay Avenue.

But we did. The sight we saw was one that took my breath away. What the heck was that at the end of the road? I thought.

The road I had been down so many, many times was completely different. It was very scary, but we rode toward it and we rode fast.

That's when I really started crying. We got over the railroad tracks, but we soon had to get off our bikes and push them.

We saw a massive pile of sand that was truly hard to comprehend. The best way to describe it is it looked like we had at least four feet of  snow. We saw a man's car halfway buried in sand.

As we trudged through, we looked down Lake Avenue and saw water everywhere. But when we got to Route 35, all we saw was sand. People's belongings were filled with sand and washed away from their homes.

From there, we rode where we could and just saw more and more sadness.

A bike ride too far

Usually, my bike ride will go down as far as Mantoloking Road. But that area was cut off, and part of that section of the barrier island was swallowed by the Atlantic Ocean and Barnegat Bay.

Instead, I now have to rely on aerial photos from the governor's office, and the ones I've seen are incredibly hard to look at.

They show the mass amount of damage to our beloved coastline towns from above. But the one that truly hits home is the one I just saw a few nights ago. It showed the Mantoloking Bridge looking east.

I sat and stared at this. I recognized the house immediately. It was the one on the corner of Barnegat Lane and Mantoloking Road. It's where I usually turned right to ride over the bridge on my bike, or cut across the road to hop on 35 towards Lavallette.

That's why, as I stared at this picture, I couldn't wrap my head around why I could see the ocean so close. Where was the traffic light? Where was that realtor on the corner of 35? Where were all those homes and that little wall that I know I would see from this angle? What I was hoping to see just wasn't there anymore.

And yet I knew that. I was probably just hoping it couldn't possibly be that bad. After seeing this beloved area up close, I determined that it was worse than I ever could have imagined.

As time goes on, I am hoping and praying that for all the families that were hit so hard by this nightmare that life for them will, at some point, be happy again. I am hoping and praying that our beaches and boardwalks, the ones that so many of our amazingly happy memories are built on, will somehow be at least close to what they were.

But we all know they will never be the same. I just wish I hadn't taken the gift of living here for granted like I did and had more pictures of things that are gone forever.

just me November 11, 2012 at 05:33 PM
Each time I see pictures of the Mantoloking bridge, Lavallette, Ortley, or the Seaside Hts boardwalk I find myself shaking my head incredulously. So difficult to truly comprehend. Our shore and it's denizens will never be the same .... we can rebuild and repair but the heartache will remain for a long time to come. It is one of the most difficult of life's lessons ... every now and then we need to pause and give thanks for what still remains in an effort to accept what was lost. Of course, that is going to take some time. Thank you, Lauren for sharing your personal reflections in a beautifully written tribute.
Joseph Herbert November 11, 2012 at 05:55 PM
My heart cries as I see the pictures and on occasion, the remnants of precious memories gone. I feel for the people who have lost everything and wish I were a rich man, that I might be of more service. As a retired mariner I know well the capriciousness of the sea and wonder why, knowing this anyone would choose to live on its verges, but we all must do as our desires lead. God bless all the survivors. Join me in prayer for those who have been taken "By the Restless Wave . . ."
JoAnn Layton November 11, 2012 at 06:44 PM
my husband and I were the original owners of Spikes Fishery, and I recieved pictures of Broadway from my cousin that still lives in the area. We cried. Our beautiful Point Beach and Boro gone. All the great times with the children on the boardwalk makes me so sad. Wonderful memories are all we have left. It's hard for us to travel anymore, I feel so bad to see my husband so sad; not being able to go back to his home town. We wish everyone well, our prayers go out to everyone on the Shore.
suz November 11, 2012 at 07:22 PM
Yeah right...another pipe dream.
hurricane research November 11, 2012 at 08:02 PM
If you look at pictures from the late 1800's early 1900's what you see now in the pictures is what the road actually use to look like before they build the dam up and put all those properties there. If you read up, it actually looks like mother nature make it exactly what was there over 100 years ago.
A Resident November 11, 2012 at 08:21 PM
Point Pleasant Beach and Point Pleasant are very far from gone. Broadway had deep water. It will be cleaned up and back to the same.
Geminikiss November 11, 2012 at 09:39 PM
How about the area of king fisher cove. I lived not far from the water there at one time.
RS November 11, 2012 at 09:50 PM
Don't know exactly those two homes but I know some houses on Adair had much less water damage compared to homes just a block away. I'm actually at a house on Spark right now and they had no water damage at all. No promises but my guess is those two homes faired very well compared to many others very close.
Concerned November 11, 2012 at 10:31 PM
Mary please read Harry Truman's second bill of rights, just because you got LUCKY does not mean everyone should have the right to a decent life.
Concerned November 11, 2012 at 10:32 PM
Sorry left out Mary's NOT, Freudian slip
Ken November 11, 2012 at 10:42 PM
I'm sorry for everyone's loses but I wish they didn't fill in the new inlet. Just think of how clean northern Barnegat Bay would have become not to mention the gas I would have saved fishing.
Leave it on the Field November 11, 2012 at 10:50 PM
Some of the best before & after shots have been published by Point Pleasant Beach High School graduate Timothy Sharkey who grew up on New Jersey Ave in Pt. Beach. His incredible pics are broken out by towns. Google "Sharkey Images Hurricane Sandy." Tim is a professional photograher in U,S. Powerbaot Racing circles & beyond.
seashells323 November 11, 2012 at 11:36 PM
Seashells323 This article was great. I would ride by bike all the time over the Mantoloking bridge, going either right past the Best Post Office ( no lines ever) and up Downer to get a fix of the beach. Or off to the left down Barnegat Lane, taking in all the breath taking houses, always admiring the landscaping! Then up Lyhmen Ave and down East Ave and on to Bay Head for some frozen hot chocolate. Every time I would go over the Mantoloking Bridge and see the sun glistening on the water I would say that I am so happy to live here. I have taken pictures but not as many as I should have. Your last statement is so true. My heart goes out to all those that have lost so much. We need to stay Jersey Strong and help one another get through this unbelievable time.
Joan November 12, 2012 at 12:42 AM
Thank you , Susan
Rachel Tomasi November 12, 2012 at 12:53 AM
There are soooo many fundraisers just getting under way (dec 9'at playdrome call for tickets ASAP) and sooo many affected between FEMA and ins and US it will be back!
Lauren Jager November 12, 2012 at 12:58 AM
I am the author of this piece and a proud supporter of President Obama. I appreciate we all have differing opinions but do not post your disrespectful comments after my articles.
Lauren Jager November 12, 2012 at 01:05 AM
Thank you to everyone who reads this and understands the anguish and sadness we all feel for our neighbors and loved ones that have endured incomprehensible loss. It feels much like a grieving process I am sure just at many different levels. And unfortunately, I don't think any of us was expecting anything even close to this.
Lauren Jager November 12, 2012 at 01:11 AM
Thank you Charles. I am going to do my best to keep the political comments out. They are made by the people that have inner anger that just have to make a spectacle out of themselves. The people that understand the entire point of my piece are the ones whose hearts are breaking and are crying so much and feel the pain almost physically for all we have lost. Just like me.
Lauren Jager November 12, 2012 at 01:13 AM
Thank you! Gonna check those out now!!
Lauren Jager November 12, 2012 at 01:15 AM
Hi JoAnn, I was on another bike ride today and Spike's looked good! The guys were out cleaning the windows!! I really think it's okay!!! :)
forthekids November 12, 2012 at 03:06 AM
Thank you in no particular order Brick PD, NJ state police, NJ national guard, Visitation Church,Alabama, Tenn, Texas power companies, FEMA, anyone who drove around mantaloking rd neighborhoods and distributed clothes,cleaning products, food, etc, anyone who helped move a fridge, empty a garage, talk to a neighbor, helped someone keep their sanity. Your effort is greatly appreciated. Family and friends have come together to help each other, thank you to all who have helped. I know there are many more people and organizations who have contributed greatly, and I can't name them all, thank you stay strong and continue to help who ever you can. Stay strong, we will rebuild.
Tiffany Ric November 12, 2012 at 03:47 AM
Hi Donna. Do you have a Facebook account? You can search for Chadwick Beach Island to find a group of Chadwick residents. They're sharing pictures and information about re-entry. I read that the bridge was deemed safe, so that should help speed up your ability to get back to the island. My grandparents owned a home there since 1969, so my cousins and I grew up on Chadwick. I hope the damage is not too bad. Chadwick holds a special place in our hearts. Good luck to you.
Ken Hildebrandt November 12, 2012 at 04:33 AM
What happened is of course terrible. I think we should expect to see more of this until we start dealing with our environmental situation here on Planet Earth in a more rational way. That's why I ran for Congress this last time around and will again next time. We need to steer in a more reasonable direction. I tried to warn people about the vulnerability of the Jersey Shore back in 2003, as per http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NXBfB5CVKSY&list=UUkp82XygTyAphmJ4HqABVUQ&index=1&feature=plcp, a short video that was filmed in northern Mantoloking at the beach. My heart goes out to the victims of this storm.
KC November 12, 2012 at 06:24 AM
what a cool video. the homes along that stretch were also so nice I remember what beautiful hydrangea bushes so many of them had. it is something how the ocean can be our place of refuge or a place to be feared. i wonder about all the debris that washed into the sea and how long it will take to decompose and if the beach will be a hospitible place to be any time soon. Again, great video.
jerseyswamps November 12, 2012 at 07:04 AM
Lauren, why did you have to say you were a proud supporter of Obama? If you really wanted to keep politics out of this then you should just asked to keep politics out of it.
Ken Hildebrandt November 12, 2012 at 08:22 AM
The shame lies with those who aren't trying to get informed, and aren't trying to inform others, not with those who are doing both. I have been trying to inform people about anthropogenic global warming and other major concerns for twelve years without pay. Perhaps you should look into my history before judging so harshly. We're all in this together. You might not see it that way but that's the way it is.
Ken Hildebrandt November 12, 2012 at 08:28 AM
Jerseyswamps has a point. After all, as Chomsky has stated, (from my imperfect memory so I'm using single quotation marks), 'Goebbels was in favor of freedom of speech for views that he liked. So was Stalin. There's (sic) two positions you can have on freedom of speech and you can decide which position you want.'
Peter Hagemeyer November 12, 2012 at 03:03 PM
I was married there also- 3 kids baptized too. church is OK with only a little bit of water damage.
John W. Burke November 12, 2012 at 04:19 PM
I was born and raised in Spring Lake Heights, so many awesome memories, so much to reflect on. Everything will be brought back, probably even better than it was before, (property, material things) Thank God that we are able to keep our memories safely in our hearts forever! This storm and global warming, floods, etc. are all part of the plan from the very beginning. These are only birth pains, a glimpse of what's to come. It's time for all of us to wake up and realize that we need to put our differences aside and call on the unmatched, name above all other names, our Lord Jesus. Only he can help, nobody else, period! Praise Him!!!
kathy November 12, 2012 at 05:50 PM
I raised my children in Brick...we lived there for 25 years. I am proud of my community and the way they have rallied for each other....I know that so many have lost so much here. Those of us who live here year round, who work, shop and serve this community will endure......We are Jersey Strong. We have to...this is our home!!


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