NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- This past Thursday's trip to Long Beach Island, a skinny 18 mile stretch of sand just off the New Jersey Coast, may have been the 50th or 60th one I've made since Hurricane Sandy hit on Oct. 29 last year. I'm not sure, I lost count.
But this trip was slightly different than most others since we'd completed much of the re-building to our small cottage, with the help of friends and family, by early August. While I did some work around the place, the primary reason for the visit was that I wanted to be there as close to the one year anniversary of the storm as possible.
This time last year I made a similar trip the weekend before Sandy hit in order to get the place "ready"; to shore up what I could. But admittedly, I did not expect much damage. We'd been evacuated the year before due to Hurricane Irene; and when that turned out to be a non-event, a false sense of security was the result. But with Sandy, getting everything off the floors, and onto the beds; putting furniture on blocks, which seemed like overkill, was more like putting a finger in the dike. The experiment of bolting two Sunfish sailboats to the back deck, my Dad's idea, was a success, well sort of. The boats did not float away, but their buoyancy pulled our deck right out of the ground. I can laugh about that now.
An early morning drive toward the southern end of the island one year later revealed few visible signs of Sandy's wrath until reaching Holgate at the very end. Here, damage to homes is still visible. The number of empty lots is a testament to Sandy's wrath. A walk to the beach reveals the real issue. There's simply not much beach left. A recent Nor'easter did not help matters, further battering what was left of the beaches.And therein lies the biggest current challenge for this island, beach replenishment. Prior to Sandy, part of the island had undergone projects that expanded both the beaches and dunes. These areas held up well during Sandy, but in other areas where replenishment efforts were stalled due to the unwillingness of beachfront homeowners to sign the required easements in order to complete the project, the bay and ocean met, exacerbating the flooding. Once that happened, the water went wherever it found low ground.