Devastation after the storm helped to bring unlikely people together.
Story by Laurie Lico Albanese
Hurricane Sandy struck the New Jersey shore just days before the presidential election, tearing down homes, hopes and power lines without a hint of partisan politics. That’s the thing about nature: it’s equal opportunity, destroying multi-million dollar houses and tiny bungalows alike – drinking up the Seaside Heights roller coaster and the Keyport marina without consideration of cost or party lines.
A little state with a mere 127 miles of coastline, the Jersey shore supports a $35.5 billion tourism industry from Sandy Hook to Cape May each year. This is Springsteen country, and our carnival-like arcades, carousels, fish shacks and beach bars are as much a part of our coastal experience as boardwalks and homemade ice cream.
We may disagree about everything from taxes to baseball teams, but every Jersey beachcomber agrees that a day at the ocean fosters the kind of side-by-side camaraderie -- swimming, jogging, body surfing and sunning -- that cements the strongest relationships. I fell in love with my husband at the beach, and I am sure that many happy couples can say the same.
It was flying over sea, sand and coast that inspired French pilot Saint-Exupéry to write, “Love does not consist of gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction.”
Which brings me to the remarkable post-Sandy Jersey bromance of Governor Chris Christie, President Barack Obama, and Bruce “The Boss” Springsteen, a trio of men who seem to have little in common but this: when Hurricane Sandy destroyed our coast, blustery Republican Gov. Christie put politics aside to praise the Democratic president’s action-packed storm readiness. This prompted Obama to praise Christie’s tireless post-storm reconnaissance. Which led Springsteen – whose liberal politics are as well known as his Jersey roots – to commend his erstwhile political polar opposite, Christie, and to quickly organize a post-storm benefit concert.
For those of us living in New Jersey throughout this trying time, there’s no more iconic image of the power of the beloved coastline than that of Chris Christie arm-in-arm with Barack Obama gazing out together at overwhelming destruction and vowing to rebuild our beaches, better than ever.
Laurie Lico Albanese's books include Blue Suburbia: Almost a Memoir, Lynelle By the Sea, and The Miracles of Prato, co-written with art historian Laura Morowitz. Her travel and general-interest pieces have appeared in The New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, Mothering magazine, and many other periodicals. She lives in Montclair, New Jersey.