For many Secaucus residents, going down to the shore every summer is a tradition that has been passed down through generations. Walking along the boardwalk, chewing salt water taffy, and taking in the ocean waves on a hot summer day are part of a collective and shared memory. So when Hurricane Sandy hit, many were saddened by the severe devastation and destruction caused to boardwalks and businesses that they often frequented during family vacations. Across the state volunteers have stepped forward to help in the recovery effort and hundreds of families in Secaucus have contributed in their own way by donating their Christmas trees to help build dunes at Midway Beach and Ortley Beach.
“I’ve been going there [Midway Beach] since 1969,” said Lisa Snedeker, the town’s social services director who organized the effort to collect local Christmas trees to help replenish sand dunes. “This beach is beautiful…it is quiet.”
Midway Beach is just south of Seaside Heights, a popular destination whose boardwalk was destroyed, and Ortley Beach is just north of it. While Ortley Beach suffered massive damage, homes upturned and tossed about, Midway Beach remained protected in part because of the massive dunes that line the beach, some as high as the bungalow rooftops.
“This beach is beautiful.” – Lisa Snedeker
“The dunes basically create a physical barrier from the ocean,” noted Solazzo. “They provide a natural beach replenishment program.”
He added that the dunes serve as storage for the sand, which builds up both vertically and horizontally as the wind blows off the ocean.
‘You are able to withstand the storm a little bit better,” said Solazzo.
While Solazzo said that using Christmas trees to build dunes “is nothing new” and can be found as a recommendation in Department of Environmental Protection guidelines, he pointed out that, “never did we have the urgency we have now.”
Solazzo, who was contacted by Snedeker, coordinated the dune replenishment effort for Midway and neighboring beaches.
“It has made a difference,” said Solazzo of the tree donations.
Snedeker arranged to have 276 Christmas trees sent on in mid-January with the help of Robert Cerchione of Apex Trucking, and another truckload went down last week for dune replenishment at Ortley Beach. To date approximately 1,200 to 1,400 trees have been received from across the state.
Adriana Rambay Fernández may be reached at email@example.com.