This afternoon I took a drive along part of the Jersey Shore. It wasn’t a long drive — in fact, I spent more time getting there than I did driving through it. I started at Point Pleasant with the idea of heading south, but I only got as far as Bay Head before I encountered a roadblock on Route 35 South. But I saw plenty of damage and, as far as I could tell, not nearly enough work done to bring things around before summer. At least, not to my untrained amateur eye.
You’ve seen the pictures of the devastation wrought by Sandy. Along Point Pleasant, though, I was struck by the amount of sand covering everything. It sat in heaps along the curbs and covered long stretches of sidewalk. There was a small mountain of bulldozed sand in the municipal parking lot. Again, I’m no expert on these things, but I wonder if that sand isn’t something akin to toxic waste by now. As with the flood water that inundated New Orleans, there must have been chemicals, sewage, and other crud in the water left behind by the storm. Does that sand have to be disposed of instead of being spread along the beach?
Things looked a little better in Bay Head, where people have enough money to start rebuilding on their own. But I glanced down some of the beachside cul-de-sacs and saw badly damaged houses propped up by fresh lumber. Outwardly fine houses had piles of debris at the curbside. I had a camera with me, but I thought about how it would feel to see passersby-by snapping images of what was left of my family home. After that, the camera stayed on the back seat.
I was already disgusted by the Republican politicking over relief funding for survivors of the disaster. As is usually the case with this strain of post-Gingrich wingnuts, there is no such thing as rock bottom — just when you think they can’t get any lower, they find a way to surprise you. I might suggest that Rep. Steve Palazzo, the Mississippi Republican who voted against relief for Sandy’s victims after welcoming such relief for his constituents following Hurricane Isaac, be forced to camp on that hill of sand and explain to all and sundry why this was the time to start — what did he call it? — a discussion on the need for disaster relief reform. But we have enough riffraff of our own without importing any from other states. I’d much rather see the riffraff swept out of Congress entirely.