Toms River Pilot Gives Jersey Shore Residents Birdseye View of Sandy’s Wrath
By Christa Riddle
In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, the viciously bruised and battered Jersey Shore faces the arduous task of putting life back together again, one family and one building at a time, a true testament to the well-known adage, Jersey Strong. Sandy’s wrath of murderous winds and ripping tides stripped away treasured landmarks by the dozen, ferociously gobbling up entire boats, buildings, boardwalks, bridges, amusement parks, and family homes, then spitting them out into unrecognizable splatterings of splintered, weathered wood hundreds of feet from where they originally stood. With widespread evacuations and roads closed to access, washed away and angrily blockaded by insurmountable mountains of transplanted sand, many could not comprehend the full magnitude of Sandy’s devastation to the area or even to their own personal property; we could only imagine.
Although we still face many unknowns weeks later, with seemingly endless tasks of clean up and reconstruction looming ahead, helicopter pilot Patrick Day, vice president of charter and aircraft management at Liberty Helicopters, managed to find a silver lining, a sentiment shared by many: “This tragedy has brought us together. I have gotten to meet neighbors I had never met before, to witness the entire community coming together at centers and shelters,” shares Day. “A third of our community has been displaced, yet we are united, hopeful, and strong.” Day, a Jersey Shore native, recalls his own childhood memories at the shore, sorry that Sandy cut short his own four children’s Jersey Shore summers of fun.
“The Wednesday after the storm, I went up in my helicopter with a camera, taking pictures. The devastation was absolutely unbelievable. I kept taking pictures, then posted them on Facebook to give perspective to the devastation,” tells Day. After, he met with an overwhelming response from people who were thankful for the pictures. “The pictures helped to quell a little bit of their uncertainty. Some people were able to see their immediate areas, their homes, familiar areas for the first time,” says Day.
Once in the air, Day also witnessed the dedicated first responders working amidst a sea of perils: downed wires, masses of rubble, collapsing buildings. He then offered aerial views of specific areas to first responders so they could assess situations and damage and properly prepare before deploying to help. Some of those using the aerial view shots included the Silverton Fire Department, Emergency Management, and the Seaside Park Police Department.
The Facebook pictures, threaded together with personal comments and reactions to tell a community-wide story from multiple perspectives, are able to be viewed on both Patrick Day’s page and the Ocean County Police Blotter page. Pictures date back to the first few days after Hurricane Sandy, and new pictures are still being posted. Day plans to also chronicle the reconstruction of the Jersey Shore, taking pictures from the sky as the community comes back to life.
Day and his helicopter have been serving as an extension of the U.S. Coast Guard as well, providing assistance to manage the gas and oil spills from destroyed marinas. Since many of his regular helicopter charters involve celebrities, he has tapped into these relationships to garner support for the Jersey Shore and its state of devastation. Famous athletes and actors, such as Mark Sanchez, Todd Frazier, the cast of the Jersey Shore, Tom Cruise, and Russell Crowe, have gone up with Day, even flying with first responders to see the destruction and loss first-hand. “Once you see the damage, you can’t help but get involved,” comments Day.
Photos: Pat Day photographing over the Barnegat Bay. Photo by Phil Stilton; Major League Baseball player Todd Frazier, of Toms River (L) and Pat Day (R). Photo by Phil Stilton
You can see hundreds of aerial photographs taken by Pat Day and Phil Stilton from Toms River Magazine and the Ocean County Police Blotter Facebook page below:
Ocean County Police Blotter Photo Galleries.
Editor’s Note: Over 560,000 facebook users in the Jersey Shore region have viewed photos by Day and Stilton in the time since Sandy touched down. For many it was their first glimpse at their homes, in some cases, what was left of their homes. Toms River Magazine wants to thank Pat Day for his contributions to our publication and to the entire Ocean County community.
-Article written by Christa Riddle, owner of All About Writing, www.allaboutwritingconsulting.com