The Jersey Shore is no stranger to extreme weather. Many people living in New Jersey say that we get the best of both worlds when it comes to weather. During the winter, we get hit with snowstorms that sometimes drop over a foot of snow, but we still get to enjoy the beach in the summer months when it’s 90 degrees outside. With that, we also get our fair share of extreme weather. In October 2012, the Jersey Shore changed forever when Hurricane Sandy hit our shores.
Hurricane Sandy made landfall on October 29, 2012, and brought havoc to New Jersey. Nearly 400,000 homes were either damaged or destroyed, and dozens of people were killed in New Jersey. The areas around the Jersey shore suffered some of the worst damage due to the severe winds, intense waves and storm surge.
One area hit particularly hard: the small shore town of Sea Bright, a place very special to my family. Sea Bright is still rebuilding nearly five years later. Many Sea Bright residents said Sandy was the worst storm they’ve seen by far. The damage was in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
An entire property was wiped out by Sandy’s power.
Located in Monmouth County, Sea Bright has a population of around 1,500 people and is a popular summer destination for many in the Garden State. The town is home to members-only beach clubs, a public beach, surfing and fishing spots, and a downtown filled with restaurants and small, family-owned shops. Sea Bright is on the barrier peninsula that separates the Navesink and Shrewsbury Rivers from the Atlantic Ocean.
For me, Sea Bright was like a second home growing up. For as long as I can remember, Sea Bright was the only place my family would take trips to soak up the sun and enjoy the summer weather on the beach. I recently made a trip back to the area to see how the town is doing after some recent rebuilding efforts in several places that I remember spending a ton of time at while growing up.
Some of the businesses that were destroyed were favorites of both locals and tourists. One of them was Donovan’s Reef, a beachfront bar and beach club. People from all over the state would flock there to soak up the sun, grab a drink and something to eat, and enjoy live music. Donovan’s was so popular that famous local musicians like Jon Bon Jovi and Bruce Springsteen would drop in from time to time. After Sandy hit, Donovan’s Reef was completely destroyed.
Donovan’s sign that sticks out over Ocean Avenue
The owners decided to rebuild. Although it took a few years, Donovan’s finally began construction and is set to open this summer.
A view from the beach of Donovan’s new building
Another spot hit hard: The Mad Hatter, a bar and restaurant that was a favorite of locals and tourists. Although Sandy didn’t demolish the building, the damage The Mad Hatter sustained from the storm was terrible. The entire restaurant was flooded and the water damage inside destroyed everything.
construction sign still hangs from the demolition of the Mad Hatter
The Mad Hatter stood mostly untouched until last October when it was demolished after Sea Bright officials approved a $4 million dollar plan to rebuild the Sea Bright landmark.
The lot where the Mad Hatter once stood.
Get ready for the comeback of the Mad Hatter. I’m told it will feature the same formula of the previous version: good food, drinks and live music.
The Mad Hatter was a special place to me and I’m happy to see that it will reopen. I have some great memories enjoying some of the best pizza on the Jersey shore after spending a long day on the beach with my family and friends.
Another local spot that was destroyed by the power of Hurricane Sandy was Tim McCloone’s first restaurant, The Rum Runner. McCloone opened the restaurant in 1987. Located on the Shrewsbury River, The Rum Runner celebrated its 25th anniversary just a few weeks before Sandy hit. The building was torn down two years later and construction on the new Rum Runner began immediately. The new restaurant opened in 2016.
The Rum Runner will always have a special place in my family and we are beyond excited that it has successfully been rebuilt. From celebrating my parents wedding anniversary to just enjoying a great meal, I have so many wonderful memories at The Rum Runner and look forward to making more.
Growing up in Monmouth County, I have had some unique experiences that I wouldn’t trade for anything. As we get ready for Summer 2017, ShoreTV New Jersey is getting ready and showcasing areas and businesses that are Stronger Than The Storm. What’s your favorite local spot to head to in the summer? Let us know below. And here’s to a great Summer 2017!
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ShoreTV NJ Guest Blogger: Kevin Zielaznicki