As native of Hazlet, N.J., I have spent much of my life in and among the shore communities of South Jersey. Hazlet is a kind of gateway to the popular beach towns of Sandy Hook, Seabright, Manasquan and Union - a sleepy hamlet through which countless sun worshippers pass to get to their favorite patch of seaside sand. For the past 13 years, my parents have lived in Manasquan, a small town near Point Pleasant, Seaside Heights and Belmar. I visit them on an almost weekly basis and continue to maintain strong ties to the area through family, friends and the magnetism that 'home' holds for all of us. But on October 29, 2012, this peaceful, picturesque stretch of seaside villages was forever changed when Hurricane Sandy slammed into the Jersey shore, leaving destruction and death in her wake.
My parent’s house was flooded with about two feet of water. They were lucky. Many of their neighbors had fared much worse. I got my first glimpse of the aftermath on the weekend following the storm when I and my fiancé went down to help with aide and cleanup. My heart sank as we walked around the town and saw the waterlines tattooed on the houses; trees that had severed dwellings in half; the ubiquitous florescent Xs painted onto former homes signifying their complete destruction; pink tags on doors forbidding any to enter; boats that littered the streets like so many dead fish; docks twisted into pretzels of ruin.
The area most devastated by the storm was the beachfront. It would not open again until December 3rd. I went down there with my 8x10 inch camera and some black and white film. My idea was to take double exposures of the affected houses, and try to convey the sheer power of the force that damaged them. While I was there I met a lot of people who were cleaning up and rebuilding. Their overall attitude was positive and hopeful. As I was shooting people would come up and talk to me about the camera, their experience, where they lived and how hopeful they were. Some even photographed me while photographing them. At one point the car battery died. A man jumped from a gnarled front porch and approached me. He had been taking a smoke break from the seemingly endless repairs. Despite his obvious fatigued, he helped jump-start the car for me. My parents were able to finish rebuilding the house in time for their annual St. Patrick’s Day party. The weekend before, Leggett's, a popular bar in the area, reopened after workers finally removed five of sand from its floors. People from all over, including places like Connecticut, came to celebrate. I remain positive about the town and its ability to spring back.
The next step in this project is to print them as Platinum Prints.