I went down to the marina to help clean up after the storm. Six days later, there’s still a lot of work to be done, but they tell me it’s getting better every day.

Things seemed pretty normal on my way down until I got to the police checkpoint, which is not something I’m used to in America. I tend to get nervous when I interact with customs agents and the border patrol, even though I’m never doing anything out of the ordinary, but I didn’t get that twinge in this circumstance (despite having no idea what to expect from a local cop’s road block). In retrospect, they’re probably trying to keep the looters and scam artists out, or at least the gawkers. The fact that there are people who would try to rip off the victims of this storm makes me wish I believed in some form of supernatural justice, so I guess I’m glad that they’re trying to keep an eye out. This particular police officer looked like he was a good two years away from shaving, and although my credentials were sketchy I comported myself as someone with somewhere to be and he waived me through with a “these aren’t the droids we’re looking for” sort of vibe.

The entire area was flooded when the storm surge came up, to the point where a Trixie’s rental boat could drive down the middle of the streets with the motor all the way down. Anything that floated was free to drift to wherever the wind wanted to take it, and when the water receded it left mud everywhere, close to 6in deep in parts of the yard. I wasn’t even sure if they wanted me there, since there was still no power or electricity and I was showing up unannounced, so I parked across the street and walked over to find Bob or Martin to see if they could use my help. I’m not sure if Bob fully understood what I was doing there at first, but he didn’t throw me out so I grabbed my boots and toque.

Martin and his crew were focused on retrieving boats. Almost all of the boats had floated free during the storm and many had collected in the back yard. Most had already been pulled and blocked, but getting them out of the pile carefully is not a quick job and there were still a few back there to untangle. They had one of those huge tow trucks for tractor trailers in to help, which was pretty fascinating to watch work.

Bob and his crew were focused on the docks and boardwalks. I’m not even sure if I understand what happened to the docks. There were finger docks all over the place, which I get, but the permanent boardwalks were really ripped up. Between the ramp and the bait shop, the boardwalk was moved about 4ft toward Seaside and not resting flat…I guess hung up on bulkheads or something. The boardwalk around back where the catamarans go was detached, half sunk, and just missing in spots. Throughout the day, Bob also led expeditions to retrieve lost things. People from the marina had done some scouting earlier that morning and found some of their belongings—some a half mile away, and we’re not talking about little stuff. They brought back a full-sized chest freezer full of bait and a drive-up dock for two jet skis, for example.

I was [correctly] relegated to tasks that didn’t require much knowledge of how things work while the regulars did the tough stuff. My first job was to try to clear the ramp and fairway of debris so that boats could be launched or retrieved if necessary. Another guy and I pulled crab traps, milk crates, small cedar trees, and a lot of cinder blocks out of the water with gaffs. We also filled about 8 heavy-duty trash bags with plastic and other trash that had collected along the shoreline. There was quite a bit of jumping and walking across boards to get around, since the docks were no longer contiguous. I pulled out a lot of unusual items, like a tank of acetylene, entire skeins of yarn, and (with a lot of help) some kind of homemade table, which may have been the fish cleaning station.

We broke for lunch around 1:00 or so, I think. The generator was able to keep essential systems running, including the well pump, a crock pot of chili, and the coffee machine. After lunch, I helped clear out the garage and wash and sanitize the concrete, which had had a couple feet of water in it during the peak flooding. A couple different church groups came by looking to drop off food and water during that time. Even though they clearly weren’t there for me, that’s the closest I’d ever been to that end of charity, and it was an odd feeling. I’m not sure how I’d act if I ever needed something like that, because I was pretty damn weird with them, and I’m not even really sure why.

Fortuitous is still hiding out in the woods, waiting for the next nor’easter to pass, and I swung by there on my way home to grab the motor. Temperatures are supposed to go down near freezing, and I wanted to get it indoors since I haven’t had a chance to winterize it yet. It’s now where motors obviously belong, on our kitchen floor.

I’m not sure if I was actually much help at Trixie’s but it felt good to try to lend a hand. Rebuilding will be a lot of work, but there are other places on the barrier islands and to the north that had it much worse, so I suppose it’s important keep things in perspective. Trixie’s will definitely return.

 

“Prepare to fend off the bridge abutment.”