Atlantic City, New Jersey
By Tom Mihalek
My assignment covering Hurricane Sandy began Sunday, October 28 and ended on Tuesday night November 13. Both the first and last day had something in common: A flat tire on my vehicle caused by a nail or screw from the debris left by Sandy’s flood waters in the different areas I covered.
In the days I spent photographing the preparations against the approaching storm in Atlantic City, to the recovery efforts being made in Seaside Heights, a resort beach town literally blasted by Sandy, I saw destruction on a scale that was staggering. Having covered the 1991 Halloween “Perfect Storm” that hit southern New Jersey among other regions, I can say that was nothing when compared to the damaged brought to central New Jersey’s beach communities by Sandy, the “FrankenStorm”.
What began as an assignment to cover Sandy’s mayhem for Reuters, soon became a personal journey of re-discovering the goodness, humanity, and brother and sisterhood in so many of us. This is something I will never forget.
Amid knee-deep water, piles of debris, downed trees and sections of boardwalks, I watched volunteers, men and women, young and old, many from out of the area, join together to clear streets and empty homes of waterlogged furniture. I came upon a food donation/distribution center set up by a few local citizens in Belmar that was in full-swing.
These were Americans at their best; no agendas, no politics…just helping others in need. I can’t remember ever seeing anything like this in my lifetime.