By Sarah Bergen
This month’s green film might bring back bad memories for some Rider students when it hits the screen on Oct. 14 and 15 at 7 p.m. in Sweigart Auditorium. Shored Up begins by bringing viewers back to Hurricane Sandy and its aftermath.
The film starts off by introducing homeless residents of Union Beach, N.J., picking family photos out of the rubble that was once their homes. For some, watching the film is like reliving the storm.
Sandy destroyed the shores of New Jersey and New York nearly two years ago, lifting entire houses and roller coasters and dragging them into the Atlantic. Inland, trees fell and power outages spread like wildfire. Rider’s campus was reopened after allowing students and faculty a week to recover from the storm.
Junior popular music culture major and resident of Point Pleasant, N.J., Victoria DeLena reflected on the damage that still lingers long after the storm flooded her hometown.
“It’s crazy that it has been almost two years since Sandy and there is still so much left to fix and rebuild. I barely went to the beach this summer because there is barely any beach left. There’s a strip of sand and it gets crowded so easily,” she said. “Every time we get a bad storm, people worry and move their cars because our entire town and the surrounding towns flood in a matter of minutes. The water levels of the lakes and rivers rise, and we never had that problem until Sandy. The citizens of our little beach towns are working hard to rebuild as best they can, but so many people still face struggles every day.”
However, the goal of the film is not to bring back nightmares, but to show the effects of climate change on rising sea levels, melting ice caps, and the millions of people who live along the shores around the world.
The next stop is another location that may be familiar to many at Rider. Shored Up presents Long Beach Island (LBI) as the magical land of tourism that has become a summertime tradition for families all over the east coast.
LBI brings large amounts of revenue into New Jersey’s economy, but Mother Nature is not concerned with selling ice cream, raking in cash for beach access, or protecting the lavish homes that line the island’s shores.
The film takes a stop in Holgate, a two-mile stretch of the only underdeveloped land on the island. At the southernmost tip of the island, Holgate is also a prime surfing spot.
The film explains that what was once the edge of the shore of Holgate 10 years ago is now a quarter of a mile out to sea. It also states that New Jersey loses about half a foot of shoreline annually to erosion. At this rate, there won’t be any beaches left unless residents put their sand castle-building skills to work and start rebuilding the beaches — which is exactly what some places are doing.
Upon arriving in Harvey Cedars, the film rewinds back to when the nor’easter’ of 1962 devastated LBI. Half of the homes in Harvey Cedars were swept away, the ocean and the bay met at 79th Street and everything in the water’s path was destroyed. The film explains that the storm scared away a lot of residents. Twenty years later, a new generation decided to move back in and take their chances — only to be confronted with Sandy.
The beaches of Harvey Cedars underwent a massive restoration project through dredging, or sucking sand up from the ocean floor and spitting it back out on the beach. The shores of North Carolina are also being restored this way. However, despite the efforts of these towns and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to save the beaches, residents are not pleased.
In the film, Harvey Cedars residents complain that the project has ruined the natural beauty and romance that once drew people to the beach. Another resident is less than pleased at how the dredging has ruined the natural design of the beaches and the ocean floor, in turn making the waves less desirable for surfers. However, despite the objections of the residents, Mayor Jonathan Oldham of Harvey Cedars supports the beach replenishment project, saying that it is the reason why the town is still there and experienced less structural damage from Hurricane Sandy than other areas.
However, as the film puts it, “beach replenishment is like putting a band aid on a hemorrhage. It’s eventually going to fail.” These projects are extremely expensive and are not stopping the rising sea levels. Residents cannot expect to continue to live on the shores unless they bring an end to climate change and rising sea levels, but these are precisely the expectations of the wealthy homeowners living along the shore.
The film points out the connection between huge mansions along the shores and New Jersey’s economy. Coastal states depend on the income that these wealthy homeowners offer to their shore communities. To put it simply, if the ocean washes away that mansion, its owner won’t be back next summer to offer thousands of dollars to the economy.
In an effort to keep these millionaires coming back for vacation time, the beaches that separate their mansions from the oceans will be the ones that receive replenishment projects. However, this need to preserve these million-dollar homes is fueling a viciously ironic cycle of restoring beaches and continuing development along the shores.
People are drawn to the oceans. There is something magical and mysterious about these vast bodies of water, but they often forget that the calm skyline can transform into a monstrous storm in the blink of an eye.
Rather than admiring its beauty from a distance, humans insist on inching closer to the dangers that the shore presents. Even worse, they are fueling the climate change that is allowing the oceans to rise up onto the shores. tIn an effort to expose and fight rising sea levels, the Rider Lawrenceville Eco-Reps are hosting a contest for the best “Super Storm Story.” Students can submit their stories here from Hurricane Sandy until the super storm anniversary on Oct. 29.
Students can email firstname.lastname@example.org to enter the contest and be entered to win a prize.
Printed in the 10/15/14 edition.