I never thought it could happen, that Wildwood would lose its beach. I thought for sure it would be awfully bizarre if the ocean actually came up onto the island being that the beaches are so gigantic. We often joke about them saying we have to “Walk across the Sahara” to get to the sea, or it’s a place you might run into TuskenRaiders.. now, it’s submerged. The ocean has swept up against and under the boardwalk and spilled onto the island. The bay side has flooded too and also extended onto the island and up to the Garden State Parkway which had reported tornadoes touching down earlier this evening.
Unfortunately.. or fortunately, it’s hard to say really, I had to evacuate Wildwood. The journalist in me wanted so badly to stay, to ride out the entire thing, to be there for every last bit of it, talk to as many people as I could, but Irene turned out to be worse than we had thought. I for one underestimated her strength, thinking that if she came up over land like she did in North Carolina she would just fizzle out and slow down, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. My family was begging me to come home, so I knew I had to but waited until the last minute.
Last night when I sat at the edge of the Sea Wall in North Wildwood and watched the ‘Irenian’ ocean start coming in, the feeling was surreal. An empty island, humid air, a gaunt haze and the darkest sea I’ve ever seen with the most intense salt smell. Hours later that sea wall would have waves coming up over it.. Steve-oh and I left and headed for Atlantic City to see what it was like there, knowing all the casino’s were evacuated. The Parkway north was clear since literally according to Governor Christie, 98% of Cape May County had left. The southbound lanes were also turned into northbound. When we took the exit for Atlantic City we were turned around at a police check-point. The island seemed more like a military base. When we got back to Philly we were disappointed that we had evacuated, but knew our families wanted us home.
I haven’t slept in about 48 hours. From Cape May to roaming Wildwood and now back in Philly Irene has been a wild experience. The stories that are going to come out of this that I’m going to want to chase will be extraordinary, and I plan on getting back to Wildwood as soon as this thing is past Manhattan. Irene has a date with Lady Liberty next…
Social media has played such a monumental minute by minute role in this storm it’s incredible. Who knew a hurricane could tweet so much!? I’ve set up a command center in my house and have been following Philadelphia Daily News reporter Jason Nark on the ground in North Wildwood and Anastasia in Cape May, and among others. Here are some live cams I have been watching the storm from: Rio Grande Ave across from The Boat House, Beach Creek and Uries, just a block from my house and from the Wildwoods Hollywood sign. Here’s an awesome video from the Wildwood Crest. And another from Moore’s Inlet.
I distinctly remember at the very beginning of the summer going out for lunch at Shoobies with my Editor Dorothy and hearing her say something along the lines of a big storm or hurricane coming up here since there hadn’t been any hurricanes. Her prediction was spot on. And to think, the worst of Irene is still to come?!