The waves crashed over the remnants of the sea wall. Bob stood well back from the ragged shoreline but still was glad he had worn his high rubber boots. An occasional sluice of foamy salt water raced past the remains of his beachfront house onto the eroding street where he stood. His insurance adjuster had sent a nice email note but said she would not be visiting him any time soon. In fact, she implied that she was really just contacting him because, what the heck, she was between jobs, anyway. Who insures the insurance companies?
It was three days after the latest midsummer nor’easter, and the devastation in Oxbury was almost complete. The golf course was mostly just a water hazard, now. The sailboats which had not been trailered away were bashed and broken on shore. There wasn’t a single intact craft left afloat in the harbor.
A total loss, not one which even the governor’s state of emergency declaration would begin to cover. All up and down New England’s shore, the destruction was similar, if not worse. Bob had heard that Cape Cod was just a sliver of its former self. Provincetown no longer existed at all. Parts of New York City were being pumped out for the fourth time this summer.
The Congregational church steeple lay halfway across the main road, not that there was really that much traffic beyond dazed locals driving their Lexus SUVs to find groceries further inland. Only 25 percent of the houses in town had escaped damage from the month’s three major storms. Even then, trees which had been there for over a hundred years were uprooted or split down the middle and would take weeks or longer to be cleared.
The forecast was bleak for August, too.
Bob got back into his own ride, a more modest Jeep Cherokee SUV which he liked better than the upscale versions most of his neighbors had. “Neighbors”, hah! There were probably not going to be many of those in Oxbury over the next few years.
Bob turned the key, rotated his head and avoided the rubble of downed trees, roof shingles, and even a partial fish carcass as he backed away from his former summer home. Time to duck out of this lost cause. The claim he had filed was possibly stacked (at least electronically) somewhere in the insurance system files along with the thousands of others filed by homeowners up and down the eastern seaboard.
Bob waved to Earnest, the mailman as they passed each other. How did the US Postal Service always seem to keep on with their rounds? Were some postal workers being furloughed? How much work was there when the town was mostly not there at all? Driving slowly away, Bob left the shore behind. His mail would be forwarded.
The mountain chalet beckoned.