Seaside Heights and Ortley Beach

After finishing work on the bridge, the guys moved onto the barrier island. They spent several days in the Seaside Heights area, then moved north to Ortley Beach.

One of the texts he sent me was “the damage is unreal, never seen anything like it.” Here he is under what used to be the boardwalk:

There is sand everywhere and it’s littered with debris.

Another view of the destruction:

Today was the first day that residents had been allowed back into Ortley Beach to survey the damage to their homes. The guys had some downtime waiting to move equipment to the next location, when they noticed a couple struggling to removed water-soaked carpeting and furniture from their condo. Not one to sit around when there is work to be done, Rudy said “lets go help them”. Not only did they help that couple, but they removed stuff from all 6 of the units in that building. The residents were very appreciative and tried to give them money, the contents of a liquor cabinet, etc., but of course they said no.

There was another couple who’s home was destroyed. Rudy had heard the woman crying earlier, obviously upset over the state of her home, yet she came over and offered the guys bottled water. She told him she had lived there since she was a teenager, and now she no longer had a home. Here I am 1500 miles away and I was getting choked up just hearing him tell me the stories.

Something I hadn’t thought about – after 2 weeks of homes being water-logged and no electricity to run refrigerators and keep food from spoiling, Rudy said the smell was getting really bad. And many people were wearing masks since mold growth could cause health problems.

I found a video made by a resident of Ortley Beach. I want Rudy to watch it when he gets home to see if he recognizes anything.

Setting Poles and Stringing Wire

The guys have been working on poles along the Rte. 37 bridge that connects the barrier island with the mainland.

They leave their hotel about 5:45 most mornings, and return about 7:30-8:00 pm. Maybe eat some supper….shower….sleep…….and get up to do it all over again the next day.

Finally Getting Down to Work

So I found out that the ‘man camp’ was set up as a staging & hospitality site for the utility workers, but will now be used as shelter for displaced area residents:

Tent City at Racetrack Now Housing Evacuees from Toms River

Unfortunately, it sounds like the conditions there are less than ideal:

Bitter cold inside a disaster shelter

When I spoke to Rudy Weds. night, he was sitting in the lobby of his hotel, and he said it was non-stop linemen/electricians/other workers, checking in from all over the country. He heard they had reserved around 150 rooms in that hotel alone.

The winter storm dumped about 10″ of snow where Rudy is working. Their equipment will be housed in Toms River, but they will be working on the barrier island east of there. If you saw the photos of the mangled roller coaster sitting in the ocean, that is Seaside Heights. He worked in that area on Thurs.

Many of the people who live on the island have not been able to return yet to see the damage to their homes. They are starting to bus them in for a few hours to retrieve important personal items.

Here is a really interesting website with interactive aerial photos of before and after Sandy of various places on the New York & New Jersey coastlines. If you drag your mouse from right to left over the photo you will see the changes:

Huffington Post Photos

It might take a while for the images on the site to load, but I thought it was worth the wait.

All the Comforts of Home?

This morning they returned to the ‘man camp’.

The “Man Camp”

It had all the comforts of home – a gourmet kitchen:

Fine dining room:

And custom laundry service – would you like light or heavy starch?

Rudy didn’t get a photo of where they would sleep. Which is just as well, because about then I’m wondering what I encouraged him to get himself into? It looks like something out of the old M*A*S*H* TV show. I can’t imagine him having to work 16 hours a day, in the cold and rain, and then THIS is where he gets to spend his down time? What kind of rest & rejuvenation can he get in an open air, leaky tent??

Fortunately, they found out their ‘home base’ was going to be further south in NJ, in the town of Tom’s River. So they spent the day moving all of their equipment down to the staging area there. And then the good news, they have motel rooms reserved in AC (Atlantic City) for the next few weeks! Yea! A real bed, heat, and a hot shower every night.!! This is what the drive south looked like:

Hopefully when the weather clears tomorrow they can get started working and help restore power to all those poor people who are still without electricity for almost 10 days now.

Detour – Atlantic City

The man camp wasn’t fully set up yesterday, so the crew spent the night at a hotel in Atlantic City. After driving 1500 miles across country, they had to drive another hour or two to have a place for the night – but of course there are no hotel rooms any closer. This morning they had a chance to see some of the damage near their hotel before heading north again:

A temporary fence was erected to keep people off damaged sections of the beach.

Sand carried in by the storm tide probably had covered this entire street.

Water-soaked belongings are stacked in piles waiting to be hauled away.

Not sure what happened to this truck, but glad it wasn’t one of ours!

It had started raining again, as Winter Storm Athena was moving into the area. Just what this area does NOT need….

Trouble Man

I always knew Rudy could be trouble :-), but I didn’t know someone had written a song about him and his brethren.

Just found this video of a song called “Trouble Man” – a tribute to lineworkers. The songwriter, a woman from PA, wrote the song after Hurricane Irene last year, but didn’t make it into a video until Superstorm Sandy.

The convoy got to Harrisburg PA Mon. night. The parking lot of the motel was filled with the rigs of other workers also headed to help out with storm recovery. Rudy saw linemen from AZ and MT that he’s met at training or other jobs. A forestry crew from Seeley Lake MT (which is where his good friend used to live and where we went to get married). Some of the guys had been on other big storm jobs like this before, and made suggestions of supplies the guys might want to pick up before they left town. Like flip flops for the showers, so you don’t get plantar’s warts or athelete’s foot. Extra food since they still don’t know what the living conditions will be. So they went shopping before getting some rest for the night.

This morning, Rudy texted me that they would be staying in Harrisburg one more night until all the arrangements had been made for their arrival. An hour later, they had new orders. They were leaving today, heading for Oceanport NJ. On the map below, the top marker is Hoboken, where they originally were told they were going. The bottom marker is Oceanport. See where it says Tom’s River down near the bottom? My mom lives about 10 miles west of there.

They met up with 5 more guys from the Fargo, ND crew, so now their caravan is up to 15 rigs. We’ve heard there is a large encampment of utility workers at the Monmouth Park Racetrack, which is near Oceanport. Perhaps this will be Rudy’s home for the near future? I found a blog today with photos from the racetrack. Many of them are of the horses/stables, but if you scroll down you will see the staging area and tents.

http://thetdnblog.blogspot.com/2012/11/in-photos-monmouth-park-stands-strong.html

Rudy called me at 3:30 EST – they had arrived! Here is satellite view of the racetrack, courtesy of Google Maps. Rudy said he is in the south parking lot, which is full of trucks and equipment, and he can see the tents set up more to the northwest in another parking lot. Their foreman went to find out where they are supposed to ‘check into their rooms’. I told Rudy not to expect room service in this ‘hotel’!

Convoy

They made it as far as Altoona IA Sat. night. Four more crews were meeting them there from other parts of SD. There are 10 vehicles traveling together in a convoy – line trucks, cranes, bucket trucks, a bobcat (that’s on a trailer – I’d hate to drive a Bobcat that far!!) and I’m not sure what else – those were the ones I could make out in the photos that Rudy sent me Sun. morning just before they hit the road again:

They spent Sun. night in Reynoldsburg OH. I think they drove about 650 miles. Here they are fueling up again this morning in Reynoldsburg:

Plans seem to change minute by minute. I can’t imagine the amount of coordination it takes to get all the people and equipment and supplies in the right places at the right time. Today they are heading to Harrisburg PA, which is apparently a staging area until they are needed in NJ. They’re not sure if they will spend some time there, or continue on to NJ tonight. There is talk that they may be housed in a racetrack or soccer stadium that has 4000 beds set up – a ‘man camp’ Rudy calls it. Time will tell……

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