The photo on the right, taken in 1980, shows my daughter enjoying the rides at Seaside Heights, New Jersey. Another photo (not shown) shows my cousins and I standing around laughing while our kids enjoy the park. My Dad is somewhere in the back with a roll of tickets encouraging the children in their mayhem.
Contrary to the image presented in the eponymous TV series, the Jersey Shore is largely populated by families. Summers typically see multiple generations getting together to enjoy the beach during the day. As a treat, if you’re good, Grandpa will take you to the amusement park tonight!
The photos of destruction show individual vignettes, but you need to realize those small, cheek-by-jowel houses extend all the way down the New Jersey coast, from Sandy Hook to Cape May. Right now, the priority is to get everybody from those houses warm and safe. Soon, tens of thousands will be filing insurance claims or looking for assistance. Some may not have flood insurance, or not enough of it. Deductibles might be formidable. Others may, in an ironic turn of the phrase, be “underwater” on their mortgages. All face the prospect of sharply higher insurance rates… if insurance is available at any price.
Governor Christie called the Shore the soul of New Jersey. He’s right. Rebuilding the Jersey Shore in a responsible way that recognizes its cultural and recreational value and protects the property rights of its citizens, while minimizing the risk of future disasters, will be the biggest challenge faced by our nation’s flood policies. The “fun” is only beginning.