This has been a most difficult week for those of us who live full-time on the barrier island as well as those who are property owners living elsewhere. I know that is difficult to watch on TV the devastation that has taken place without being able to personally see it for yourself.
In many cases, life at the Jersey Shore will never be the same. Lives have been lost to the north of us, homes have burned to the ground or have been washed away, and livelihoods have been severely compromised. Our thoughts and prayers go out to those also.
For the most part, Seaside Park infrastructure is in good shape: the dunes are still there with the breeches occurring only at the points of access, our boardwalk is still in place with the exception of about 150 feet south of Funtown Pier, our parking lots have been cleaned up and are ok, the marina saw little damage, our clock and piece of steel from the World Trade Center are still in place, and the Fifth Avenue Pier is undamaged.
Because of flooding, our Borough Hall building on Ocean Ave. will need rehabilitation, as will the Bathhouse and DPW administrative offices. The 14th Avenue Pier is a twisted wreckage and the boat ramp at 14th Ave. has a lot of sand & debris washed up into it, and of course, nearly everyone has seen the destruction of Funtown Pier.
After the storm, the water supply was nearly non-existent, the sanitary sewage was interrupted and the Governor ordered that the gas supply be turned off, and of course, power was lost.
Because of the extraordinary work of our Borough employees, our streets have been cleared of sand and debris, our water supply went from being “borrowed” from South Seaside Park (but it was little more than a trickle), to getting our own wells back online, and the sewers are again functioning. WE have done everything WE can as a Borough to get things back to the point of letting everyone return home. That is the good news!
Here is the problem: some things are just simply out of our control, namely electric power and gas supply, and what the state, through the Office of Emergency Management, will and will not allow.
Please rest assured that Police Chief Larkin and his officers have been keeping our properties safe and because of their tremendous efforts we have not experienced the looting that other municipalities have. Marie Rice and the Tri Boro squad also deserve our accolades.
I apologize for not getting information out sooner, but I wanted to be sure that everything I told you was absolutely factual and up-to-date. We have been severely hampered by the fact that our cellphone coverage has been sketchy at best until yesterday, so calls were dropped, texts and emails sent between officials were delivered hours and, in some cases, days after they were sent. The only thing that has been consistant throughout was the frustration that everyone felt!
Our Council is a strong group of hard working Seaside Park servants. They have been diligent in meeting their responsibilities to address the massive challenges left by Sandy. All of them, like many of you, have lost access to their only home, but have continued to act on behalf of the citizen taxpayer.
Finally, please react only to the posts on the borough web site and/or the reverse 911 messages.
I hope to be able greet you in the borough you over the next two days.
Robert W. Matthies