Seaside Heights, New Jersey
By Steve Nesius
Hurricane Sandy hit the coast of New Jersey on a Monday. I shot many photos over the next week, but one image stands out. I saw the Seaside Heights roller coaster in the ocean during a helicopter ride. It was an odd scene, but only one small moment in miles of damage I photographed from the air. The following day, I photographed the roller coaster from beach level. I’ve since received calls and emails from strangers who have seen the published photo telling me how much the roller coaster was a part of their lives and why that scene is an iconic image of the damage to the Jersey shore. It’s a very surreal image to me as well, and not one I’ll soon forget.
I’ve lived by the ocean or Gulf most of my adult life, experiencing many hurricanes, always facing the dilemma of evacuating or riding it out. Fortunately, I’ve never dealt with the damage I saw from Sandy on the New Jersey coast. My heart goes out to all those affected by this super storm. I’m already back home but this story is far from over. Our colleagues continue to take incredible images and report compelling stories in communities still coping weeks after Sandy made landfall.
I began to pay closer attention to the track of Hurricane Sandy as it moved through the Bahamas. Storm surf was already pounding south Florida. My upcoming weekend assignment was to photograph the effects of Sandy along the Florida coast from Daytona Beach northward on Friday, then cover the Florida Georgia NCAA football game Saturday in Jacksonville.
My travel plans soon evolved. On Thursday afternoon, Mike Christie, Miami-based General Manager, asked me to rent a van, load it with logistics support supplies we maintain at a storage unit in Florida and be on stand-by during my weekend assignment.
I made several images of people Friday morning on the Ponce Inlet jetty getting sprayed by huge storm surf and blasted by blowing sand. That evening, Sandy became a “super storm.” My new plans were to continue northward to position myself where I could provide logistical support and photograph the storm aftermath.