A Long Day's Journey Into A Frightening Night
Bayville Fire Company firefighters weary after onslaught and aftermath of Hurricane Sandy
They started even before the storm.
Some members of the Bayville Volunteer Fire Company had already been up for hours when the call for mutual aid came in from Ocean Gate.
A fire broke out at the Ocean Gate Market on Monday morning. By the time it was out, nothing but the brick structure remained. Then three more fires on Wayne Street, on the border with Pine Beach.
By the time a blaze broke out at the former Wicker Store at the dilapidated Beachwood Shopping Center last night, Hurricane Sandy was at its zenith. Heavy rains and even hail fell.
"It felt like someone was shooting BBs," Fire Chief Kenneth Anderson said, as he sat slumped on a stool inside the firehouse.
Firefighters had to lay hose across Route 9 at the Roy Rogers in Pine Beach because of the metal sheets and strips flying off the shopping center and whirling ithrough the air.
Transformers sparked and blew. The wind funneled the flames away from the water. Firefighters couldn't get too close because of the dangerous conditions inside the shopping center.
"The building was unsafe to enter," Anderson said. "It looked like the Fourth of July."
And they didn't just put out fires. They helped move trees out of roads. They rescued people trapped in their homes who had not heeded the mandatory evacuation order.
"We've been close to 200 calls," Anderson said.
The family that is the Bayville Fire Company hunkered down during the storm. Many of the members live in the waterfront community and stayed with their families at the firehouse. The kids slept in tents.
"We're sleeping here tonight," a young boy chortled to a visitor as he lugged his sleeping bag inside the firehouse. "Because we don't have any power."
Marie Kasper - whose husband Steve is a firefighter - stayed with other volunteers to tidy up and prepare food.
"We got here on Sunday and we've been here ever since," she said.
Area restaurants - including Fevola's, Shady Rest and Surf Taco - and several churches donated food.
"Surf Taco was here today actually cooking," Kasper said. "We had a lot of people just donating, which is fantastic. The churches came at the perfect time. The firefighters just came back from the Beachwood Plaza. They were like 'Food, water.' "
By Tuesday night, some of the volunteers were trickling home for the first time in two days.
Firefighter James Murray wasn't sure where he was going to go. Murray's home in the Good Luck Point section of Bayville had 18 inches of water in it today.
"'92 was nothing compared to this," he said, referring to the December 1992 Nor'Easter that pummeled the Jersey Shore for several days. "I've lived here 36 years. It's never been this bad."
Anderson and several other firefighters agreed.
"This is like something you see on T.V.," he said. "Not in Bayville. I've never seen water like that. It was crazy. Hopefully everybody pulls together and we get everything back to the way it was."