New Jersey’s delicate barrier islands, long and slender strips of land cherished by generations of sunbathing vacationers and full-time residents alike, are a hazardous wasteland of badly eroded shore, ruined beachfront homes, flooded streets and damaged utilities.
The full extent of the devastation on the island that hosts MTV’s “Jersey Shore” came into sharper focus Wednesday, and it wasn’t a pretty sight. Signs of the good life that had defined wealthy enclaves such as Bayhead and Mantoloking lie scattered and broken: $3,000 barbecue grills buried beneath the sand and hot tubs cracked and filled with seawater.
Nearly all the homes were seriously damaged, and many were destroyed — no trace of them left.
New Jersey got the brunt of superstorm Sandy, which made landfall in the state and killed 12 people here. More than 2 million customers were without power as of Wednesday afternoon, down from a peak of 2.7 million.
Some parts of the shore might never look the same, Gov. Chris Christie said.
Nearly 48 hours after Sandy made landfall, the most densely populated state in the nation still was very much in a state of emergency.
Most mass-transit systems were shut down, leaving hundreds of thousands of commuters braving clogged highways and quarter-mile lines at gas stations. Closed, too, were Atlantic City’s casinos. And Christie postponed Halloween until Monday.
Nearly 20,000 residents were stranded in Hoboken, just across the Hudson River from Manhattan, amid accusations that officials have been slow to deliver food and water.
New Jersey has 127 miles of Atlantic Ocean shoreline. Most of the beach destinations, including famed spots such as Seaside Heights, Atlantic City and Wildwood, are on barrier islands that range in width from a few hundred feet to a couple of miles.
The islands are so narrow that bay met ocean during the height of the storm, with water covering entire islands and making a mockery of the sandbags that some had placed around their homes.