By Karen J. Irvine
It’s almost a cruel joke that the catastrophic storm was named Sandy, because sand was one of rebuilding effort’s most formidable obstacles.
But even in the midst of chaos there are lucky breaks. One such break came in the form of one of the Stavola brothers, owners of Driftwood Cabana Club in Sea Bright. Mike Stavola also owns an excavation and paving business and brought in his heavy equipment (similar to the ones used on interstate highways) to build berms in front of his beach club. He and his brothers – Bill, Jesse and Robert – also volunteered to help the borough of Sea Bright build berms along its beaches.
Super Storm Sandy slammed into the shore town on Oct. 29 inflicting major damage on more than 75 percent of the town’s structures and covered Sea Bright with 3 to 5 feet of sand on all the roadways on the narrow peninsula. Since then, Stavola and his crew from Cardinal Paving Co., Tabernacle, have been operating equipment for more than two weeks, 24 hours a day, to help dig Sea Bright out from under the sand and debris.
After the storm, Stavola and his brothers asked the town what they could do to help and immediately set about plowing through the sand to make much-needed fire lanes.
“The sand was so deep everything was getting stuck in the sand – including fire trucks,” Stavola said. “Making fire lanes was our first concern.”
The end result was a mountain of sand in the municipal parking lot that at its highest point was more than 100 feet tall. The bulldozers, dump trucks, front-end loaders, excavators and a giant sand sifter – that every inch of sand passed through to catch any debris – have worked around the clock to help make Sea Bright the first of the hardest hit shore towns ready for restoration.
“The Stavola brothers just stepped in and it made the difference so that we are now the first shore town ready for rebuild,” Mayor Dina Long said. “Everyone worked together to get the town ready for rebuild,” she said.
The town, which was closed to the public since the hurricane, was recently opened to traffic. All utilities are working.
Did the berms work? Well, Driftwood is still there and the majority of it is structurally sound. Ama Ristorante at Driftwood, which recently opened on Sept. 14 on the second level of the beach club, remains intact. In fact the tables, which were set the night before the storm, are still set and look as if nothing happened around them. The restaurant will be up and running as soon as possible.