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Long Branch Ducks Sandy’s Powerful Punch!

Sandy took her best shot, and much of Long Branch stood there and took it like a champ. While many of the towns on the Jersey Shore took a major beating by Sandy, Long Branch held its own.

Shortly after the storm, I took my drive to Long Branch. The destruction all around was devastating. I could not drive my normal route, as trees were downed and streets were closed. My first stop was to a development on the river in Long Branch off of Patten Avenue. I have a townhouse scheduled to close at the end of the month, and based on what I was driving through to get there, I feared for what I would see. I pulled into the development, and to my utter amazement, it did not look like there was even a storm there. I don’t even think there was a leaf on the ground.

I drove from the river side in Long Branch to the oceanfront. Let’s just say that “Sandy” was a very appropriate name for the Super Storm. Many streets were closed – blocks from the ocean – because of the mounds of sand that accumulated on the streets. If one could ski on sand, Avenel and Marion Place would have made excellent slopes. I was finally able to make my way to the most north end of the promenade.

What I saw there made me tear up. The first level of each of the three oceanfront townhouses that I called home for much of my life did not fare nearly as well as the development on the river I had just come from. The ocean roared its way through the front doors right through to the garage on the other side, taking the walls to the bathroom, utility room and garage with it. I was there through the Nor ‘Easter of 1992 and in my wildest dreams, I didn’t think the destruction could ever get worse than that. Well, I was wrong.

I started to walk down the promenade to see if I could recover any of the items that the ocean took with it when it stormed in and out. What I saw gave me some hope. I passed the Promenade Beach Club, and they were already cleaning up from the storm. Unlike the beach clubs in Sea Bright that I was told were completely taken out, the Promenade Beach Club was there in its entirety. While it looked like the beach club definitely sustained some damage, it did not look irreparable. Somewhat heartened, I continued walking (or should I say trudging through the sand). Rooney’s seemed to have lost their Dog Bar, but otherwise looked intact. Grand Resorts appeared fine, other than some missing shingles and small patches of damaged siding.

As I approached the Ocean Place Resort and Spa, I can’t explain my excitement at seeing the Tiki Bar! And, then I looked down the promenade toward Pier Village. While I wasn’t close enough yet to see Pier Village in detail, McLoone’s Pier House, Avenue, and Sirena were all standing. After hearing about the loss of so many other boardwalk’s (Sea Bright, Belmar, Manasquan, Point Pleasant, to name a few), I couldn’t believe my eyes. My beloved Long Branch had survived.

At that point, a policeman patrolling the oceanfront stopped me and told me that I was not supposed to be there and that I would have to turn back. I obliged his order, and returned to take pictures of the townhouses. Access to Pier Village from Ocean Blvd was blocked off, but as I looked down the street from the Boulevard, Pier Village appeared intact. So you can imagine my bewilderment as I endured a week’s worth of tales from many of the demise of this wonderful development. All untrue. It was like the telephone game that we played as kids. One person started a story, and by the time the last person repeated it, the story was completely different from the truth.

As soon as I was able to gain access, I went directly to Pier Village. It was exactly as I assumed. Wood, debris, and still a lot of sand, but surprisingly, all the shops were operating as usual. People resumed their daily workout at Gold’s Gym, window washers were cleaning all the storefronts, and I was even able to get a delicious latte at the Corner Café. The only inoperable places were the restaurants on the waterfront – Pier House, Avenue, and Sirena. From the exterior, all three looked fine. I also peered into the windows and the interior of all three appeared untouched. I was told that because of the construction and the elevation, the three were able to withstand the storm without major incident. The only reason that they were still closed was because of electrical damage sustained from underneath the pier.

About a week or so later, all three restaurants were back up and running and all of Pier Village is back in business. The annual tree lighting was held on Sunday and it went off without a hitch. Rooney’s Restaurant got a generator and fresh food, and was open for business within days of the storm. And, Charley’s was also open for business within a week of the storm.

The large building residences stood strong, as well. Diamond Beach was built to withstand 120mph winds, so it laughed at Sandy’s 80mph whistle. Not a drop of water was to be found in the building, and the generator kicked on as soon as the electric went off. The Presidential, just behind Seven President’s Park, stood like its name, with only minor damage to the lobby and garage doors. Beachfront North held its own, and Pier Village is helping out by offering monthly leases to those displaced by the storm.

So, if you love the Jersey Shore, and want an area that can look Mother Nature in the Eye and tell her to move aside, Long Branch is the place for you. Come live with confidence on the Jersey Shore!