By Andrew Schmertz
Under the threat of a winter storm — and amid reconstruction and demolition — the people of Sea Bright had one message for nature.
“Bring it on. After what we’ve been through I don’t think it’s going to be that bad,” said home builder Al Merklin.
It’s probably not a good idea to taunt Mother Nature as the wind and rain picked up by mid-afternoon.
But Merklin is confident all will be fine. He built this house years ago, and despite being right on the beach, it survived Hurricane Sandy.
“I just got a little minor damage in the garage, so we did a good job here and the people are already back in it,” Merklin said.
Bain’s Hardware, which had been decimated, is sporting a whole new look on one side of the store, but it is still a work in progress on the other side.
Owner Frank Bain, who has lived here 25 years, and having his hardware store open today is good news for residents who need storm supplies.
Bain said he has seen business come back after Hurricane Sandy. “The only thing we didn’t lose in the storm was customers. They’re all back and their well wishes are better than ever,” Bain said.
Denise Giebler of Highlands was at the hardware store today. “I’m just trying to support local business, that’s all, and get everything back to normal,” she said.
Outside a yoga studio, where men were working to rebuild it, the attitude about another storm is zen-like.
“I think we’re going to be all right, it’s what it is around here, you know New Jersey, the weather here,” said demolition worker Michael Popo.
Jeremy Sykes lives in Maryland, but is a member of the Sea Bright Beach Club. His family still lives nearby.
“I think after Sandy, I think they’re probably a little numb, and if it’s not the same as Sandy they’re not going to really think much about it,” said Sykes.
Still, while no one is comparing this winter storm to Sandy, it does merit respect. The system spawned dozens of tornadoes in the south, heavy snow in the west and hundreds of cancelled flights on one of the busiest travel days of the year.
But the folks along the Jersey Shore intend to do what they have done for weeks now — show the resiliency to carry on.