Hurricane Sandy caused much devastation to our area, but for metal-detecting hobbyists, the storm also left behind potential for some great finds.
"It's like Christmas morning for a metal detector," said Edmund Peckiconis, of North Cape May, chairman of the Cape May Metal Detecting Club.
The excitement of a post-storm search, especially a storm as powerful as Hurricane Sandy, comes from the idea that the storm has churned the sand and eroded several layers of beach, exposing new under-explored areas, and with the hope of bringing some buried treasures to the surface.
Peckiconis said he was eager to get on his beach post-Hurricane Sandy. He even tried to get on it the next morning, but by the time he arrived, police had already set up barricades.
Five days after Sandy made landfall, at about 8:30 a.m., Peckiconis and fellow detector, Tony Mendyk, of Ocean View, made it onto the Atlantic City beach - an area they were eager to explore.
"People have been going to those beaches since the 1800s," Peckiconis said days before he gained access. "You're looking at layers and layers and layers of stuff."
But on that morning there were only two men, two detectors and a beach covered with unusual debris for miles.
The men walked with their eyes glued to the ground, moving their metal detectors back and forth in a wide swinging motion. Any sounds in the background were muffled out by the headphones pressed tightly over their ears, alerting them of the potential treasures. A solid tone in their headphones indicated success beneath the sand, they explained.
"Erosion is good for us," Peckiconis said as the two passed the Tropicana, heading toward Albany Avenue. By 10 a.m., they had accumulated a handful of coins, a bottle opener and a fishing weight.
"You never know, ya know?" Mendyk said as he began digging. "Anything can happen," Peckiconis said to finish his friend's thought.
Brian Mayer, a resident of Margate and employee at Showboat Atlantic City Hotel and Casino, has been hoping to hit the Atlantic City beach. However, the creator of the Jersey Shore Beach and Surf Hunters group had storm-related troubles at home that took priority.
The hobbyist, who has walked the beaches of South Jersey with a detector for 38 years, wanted to defend the activity that sometimes gets a bad reputation. He recalled someone calling the group looters.
"We urge people to stay out of (the badly hit) towns. Let them get cleaned up," Mayer said about his group. "We are trying to be responsible and return what we can. … We are taking advantage of the beach erosion, not the storm."
Mayer, who describes his group as amateur archeologists, also wanted to stress the history involved in their searches and the science behind the beaches they walk.
"With the immensity of the storm, it's as if someone dropped a bomb on the beach. The sand you laid on in the summer is now 3-4 feet lower. Right now, we are finding stuff that was out in the water. It's incredible."
Contact Caitlin Honan:
Contact Elisa Lala: