It was nine years ago that the havoc wreaked by Superstorm Sandy left monumental wreckage in its wake in Sea Bright.
Once the ghost-town kind of calm settled in after the storm, people flocked from all over to witness the devastating damage done first hand.
One iconic spot that Sandy decimated, hoisting up its buildings and fiercely slamming them down onto twisted tar, was Sea Bright’s Donovan’s Reef.
Parts of the place were severed, flattened, scattered and, well, relocated by the merciless, angry surge of wind and surf. A few remnants remained. People walked the sea wall to get a last look at scattered bits and pieces — mementos of what once was the gathering spot for generations of so many who grew up in the Rumson-Fair Haven area.
Some pocketed splintered pieces of wood, souvenirs from chunks of the the building and stairs to the beach that had been thrust by waves into the jetty’s crevices. Some just sat on a rock, stared and cried, mourning the loss.
A piece of the sign out front with the remaining letters DO are what Sea Bright Mayor Dina Long clung to as she spoke to residents at a forum at RFH after the storm, updating them and giving her famous “DO” speech.
“Do is what we’re gonna do,” she said on that damp, cloudy Nov. 2 of 2012. “We’re gonna rebuild our town sustainably for the future a better Sea Bright than you saw before and not a different Sea Bright. Sea Bright is not gone! Sea Bright is its people!”
Donovan’s owners had since vowed to reopen. It finally happened. The iconic spot has been rebuilt and reopened for a while now. It’s large, flood-proofed and packed in the summer months. It’s all the Sea Bright rage, a real contender for the next angry superstorm.
Yet, it’s nothing like the old Donovan’s, many muse. For RFH reunions, old classes can’t get near the place for celebrating at their old haunt.
Many, while happy it’s back, long for the old days of that small, no-frills beachfront shack that somehow always had room, a little sea wall to perch on and a lot of connecting among old RFH friends clinking plastic cups.
Cheers to the simple Donovan’s life before Sandy …