Sixteen-year-old Charlotte Nagy said she is amazed by the attention she’s received since her homemade video documenting damage in a New Jersey town after Hurricane Sandy drew the attention of one of her favorite bands.
The reaction by the band Train didn’t surprise her, however. Next week, the Grammy-winning performers of “Hey Soul Sister” will play a private concert in Sea Bright, about a mile from Nagy’s home in Rumson. It will benefit the charity Sea Bright Rising.
To help the fundraising effort, VH1 said it will air pieces of the video throughout Christmas Day.
“It’s incredible, and I never expected all this would happen, but it didn’t surprise me the way the band reacted,” Nagy said. “They’re just great guys, from the road crew to the guys who manage the band to the guys in the band.”
Nagy spent two weeks in the dark after Hurricane Sandy but managed to shoot a before-and-after video that became a YouTube sensation. It includes a soundtrack using songs by Train and others including Bruce Springsteen. Nagy is a big fan of Train and has seen the band about 15 times, she said, and has met the musicians.
Singer Pat Monahan posted on his blog that the video moved him, and that started the chain of events that led to next week’s concert.
Nagy shot the 33-minute film over six days beginning Oct. 27, two days before the storm’s full fury hit the New Jersey coast.
The video begins with Nagy walking along the beach and shows residents preparing for the storm, then shows the power going out in Nagy’s house and her family pumping water out of their basement. Early in the video she sounds a prescient tone.
“Today could be the last day I’ll be in Sea Bright for a very long time,” she says.
The video taken after the storm is stark: boats washed up in yards, houses crumpled as if made from crepe paper, personal belongings strewn along roads and beaches where there didn’t used to be beaches.
“So much of Sea Bright washed up in my yard,” Nagy said.
One of the items she saw was a sign from a popular restaurant she used to visit as a child.
“Finding that sign obviously meant the restaurant had been destroyed,” she said.
Nagy managed to shoot and edit the video using generator power, though there were a few mishaps when everything crashed and she had to start over. But the finished product is a compelling chronicle of the hurricane’s effects.
“I’ve always been into photography but I never considered myself a filmmaker, I’d never really made a film before,” she said. “But I guess this was a good place to start.”