Rock Center   |  November 01, 2012

Brian Williams recalls Jersey Shore memories

From Mantoloking to Seaside Heights, Brian Williams visits the New Jersey shore and discovers what’s left of a way of life that stretches back for generations.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> if you're from new jersey, it has proven best to be loud and proud about it because there have been just too many jokes over the years. then came the tv show that made all of us who are actually from the jersey shore have to defend the jersey shore all over again. sadly in the face of this oncoming storm, turned out there was nothing that could defend our beloved shoreline which has been staggered, badly shaken and just plain rearranged. if you've already started hearing comparisons to katrina, there's a reason for it. things are starting to look and feel like a deep, long-haul disaster. the grisly business of finding bodies, the daily realization that the face of the earth has changed, especially along the jersey shore . this is the new contour of the jersey shore . and right where we are is the borderline between two towns which have been in the news, bayhead to the north. six miles down is seaside heights , new jersey, almost impossible to see what's left of the ferris wheel and the amusement tower. from seaside heights , new jersey, this is what we found on the beach, one of the 57 chevy replicas that was part of the ride. the ocean gave this quite a ride. but just pause and think about the number of 4 and 5-year-olds who got their first thrill on a carnival ride at the beach right in this front seat with the safety bar down to protect them. there are two kinds of damage along the jersey shore . these are the first pictures taken from beach level of some of the fanciest sections. one of these houses was valued at $13 million the day before the storm arrived. and these were some of the nicest beachfront properties anywhere on the east coast . then there's the jersey shore we all experienced as kids, the boardwalk where everybody in this area went, starting where we were yesterday in point pleasant beach. i first walked these boards holding my dad's hands when i was a little kid. and now i bring my kids back on weekends in the summer and that's the way it is here.

>> it is, it is. it's a great location to go to. look at the beach. it's a huge beach. and the boards are actually wooden boards. you smell the wood of the boardwalk, the salt of the ocean. it's great.

>> reporter: and it will be great again.

>> it will, exactly.

>> reporter: american flags are big here. this is just one before-and-after view from one beachfront porch. the flags are all gone along with the earth. so if you still have your flag, it's a big deal as it was for bill mullins yesterday who we witnessed holding his own flag-raising ceremony.

>> they could i not before i go back north put the flag up.

>> reporter: good man.

>> jersey shore is still here. we'll be back, no doubt about it.

>> reporter: a brief moment of joy and strength in a state where so many people are hurting. and if you ever think that all governors do is veto spending bills and open new industrial parks, take a moment and listen to what yesterday was like for governor chris christie in just one flooded new jersey town.

>> i can't get anything done.

>> reporter: one piece at a time, all right?

>> thank you.

>> it's all ruined down there. every house, ruined!

>> reporter: this entire region is still in shock. when you start to think it's going to get better, you suddenly remember it's going to take a long time. and it's never going to be normal again. people and places are gone in a place that we trusted with a lot of our summertime memories. luckily we know some of them will be back. and on top of everything we've seen all day, this may be the saddest sight of all. that's because this is hoffman's. and every weekend all summer long, this is where you end up if you're from this part of the jersey shore . like everybody else , you've told yourself all day, even during dinner, you're going to be strong, tonight's the night you're not going to do it. but you end up here. this place is packed with families, saturday night, sunday night, all summer long. they go in, get a number, come out here and think about their ice cream order. that's why it's such a sad sight with no power, no lights, a curfew on the streets. and that is why perhaps the folks at hoffman's took it upon themselves to urge all the rest of us to stay strong. discussing