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Jersey marina owner survives storm with ‘major miracle’

As Hurricane Sandy’s eye passed directly over Stone Harbor, N.J., Tim Keane knew there was only one possible scenario that would spare the newly renovated Stone Harbor Yacht Sales marina.

“We actually took a direct hit over Stone Harbor,” the Stone Harbor Yacht Sales manager told Soundings Trade Only today. “Ironically that hit probably saved Stone Harbor.”

Even prior to the storm, Keane told Trade Only that based on the predictions of the storm’s path and timing with tides, the only way the business on the south Jersey shore would be spared was if the wind changed directions from east to west and blew the storm surge that had already flooded the town back into the ocean inlet.

“The eye had to hit us or be north of us, the tide had to arrive early and the wind had to hit dead to the west, and all that happened all at the same time,” Keane told Soundings Trade Only. “Nutshell, we had a major miracle here at Stone Harbor.”

“The tragic side of that is that as much as it was a miracle for us, it certainly came at the expense of many others,” Keane added. “Yesterday was all about assessing the damage and making sure certain places weren’t undermined. Today is all about reaching out to friends in the northern parts of the state and our customers to let them know their places are all right.”

The bulkheads at the marina were 34 inches underwater and the parking lot was submerged when Sandy came hurtling toward the Jersey shore, Keane told Trade Only. The docks rose up about 8 inches short of the pilings. The tide crested about 8:30 p.m. Monday instead of 9.

The winds had slowed to 55 to 65 mph, dramatically lower than the 90 to 110 mph predicted, Keane said. The winds will shift violently, so winds that are going NNE, and then shift west, actually take the accumulated water from the bay and drain it into the ocean inlets, Keane said. That’s what the marina was banking on, and it happened.

“Otherwise, you’d be seeing the same devastating helicopter footage of Stone Harbor that you’re seeing on TV — boats strewn about to and fro and piled up in one corner like discarded Dixie cups,” Keane said. “If it had hit south of us we’d have been in the same pickle as the rest of the Jersey shore.”

Because the access was limited, Keane took an 18-foot Boston Whaler out to check properties and send photos to customers because many were dealing with problems at their primary homes. The houses fared well, but “there is not a private dock that survived in Stone Harbor,” Keane said.

Two major New York airports reopened and the New York Stock Exchange came back to life today while across the river in New Jersey National Guardsmen rushed to rescue flood victims and fires still raged two days after the storm, the Associated Press reported.

LaGuardia Airport was still closed, although JFK reopened today. Logan Airport in Boston reopened on a limited basis Tuesday. So far, 18,000 flights have been grounded, according to the AP.

The devastation on the docks of northern New Jersey and New York had yet to be determined as of today, but Keane was beginning to learn more as the day progressed.

“I feel like a guy who just survived a 747 crash and walked away with a scratch on my nose.”

— Reagan Haynes

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