Good morning HCTA members and friends,
Unfortunately we never anticipated this many hits so we exceeded our site bandwidth and were unable to access our website yesterday or this morning to send the update. Our neighbor and volunteer IT guy Andrew corrected the problem – thanks Andrew!
HCTA President Phil Kunz shared with me last night details from his daily “briefing” conversation with Mayor Jon Oldham. Here is where things presently stand:
Condition of Harvey Cedars: Harvey Cedars fared exceptionally well compared to other towns. Credit is given to the beach replenishment project and the dunes for doing their job. The HCTA board would like to thank Mayor Odlham, Commissioners Garofalo and Gerkens, and all the volunteers who worked tirelessly to make replenishment a reality, knowing one day a storm of this magnitude would come.
Jon believes that while Harvey Cedars will be ready on Monday for people to return, they will not be able to so until the island-wide Emergency Management Team allows it. It is not Harvey Cedars decision alone. Harvey Cedars worked like a well-oiled machine, and they have been working non-stop to make the town safe for residents to return. Unfortunately, other towns are not as ready. Each town is in ‘lock down’ to stay secure and prevent looting, etc., so people are not permitted to leave their respective towns. Jon understands residents are anxious to return and wants them to as more eyes in town helps protect everyone and as we all start to work on our homes, we can only help Harvey Cedars even more.
Criteria to re-open the island: Gas, water, sewer and electricity must be ‘safe’ for residents to re-enter. The streets are almost clear of sand and debris. Gas has been shut off to the island, thereby making it safe to restore electrical power – which has begun. Shutting of the gas, however, has some long-term affects. As per NJNG:
“Our crews did everything we could to save the system,” said Chief Operating Officer Kathleen T. Ellis. “We were only able to gain access to some of the most damaged areas within the last 24 hours, and the devastation is nothing that could be seen from the air. It is beyond imagination. The only safe thing to do is shut down the system.”
NJNG expects water to infiltrate its pipes once natural gas pressure is no longer flowing through them. This will damage the pipes and require the infrastructure to be rebuilt before service to the barrier islands can be restored. Natural gas utilities were also forced to retire damaged portions of systems in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
“It will take time to get life back to normal for our customers; but make no mistake, we will not rest until it is done,” said Ellis.
The HCTA can’t speculate when these repairs/rebuild could be completed and will report any credible information we get, but at this point it could be months.
What you need to re-enter the island: Once HC or North end residents are approved for re-entry, there most likely will be two check point lines – one for those with red re-entry placards and one for those who do not have it. Obviously, if you have the placard, your re-entry will be faster than if you do not. If you have misplaced your placard you will need your drivers license/ID and your tax bill. Note: as of this time, there will be multiple checkpoints to pass thru and you must have your ID and tax bill or placard with you at all times. Anytime you are asked for proof of residency – even if you are walking on the beach – you must provide it. This is to prevent looters, etc.
Contrary to some reports, people are not allowed to walk over the bridge.
Clean up: Klein Brothers have donated two dumpsters to HC. The Boro is working on plans/locations for residents to drop off items they wish to dispose of versus leaving it curbside and having the streets filled up with debris.
Voting: Nothing has changed if you are off-island. We are told that there will be a location to fill out and immediately return mail-in ballots, but so far, we have not been able to glean any more information. Remember, mail in ballots must be received or turned in no later than 3pm on Monday to be counted.
School: Southern Regional High School will reopen on Monday, Nov 12. Presently, we have no information on the LBI schools.
Mail service: All mail except for Barnegat Light will be available for pickup at the Tuckerton Post Office 139 East Main Street starting today, Nov 3rd. The post office hours are 9-12:30 and 1:45-4:30. They are open Saturday 11/3 and Sunday 11/4 to accommodate residents.
Repairs: Jon said once you are on the island, residents will need to arrange for their own home repairs. The HCTA cautions you to use reputable contractors and to ask for proof of their state license and insurance. If they are legit, they will be expecting this.
Links to various disaster assistance agencies:
New Jersey Office of Emergency Management –http://www.ready.nj.gov/plan/hurricane-after.html
American Red Cross – www.redcross.org/
Federal Emergency Management Agency –www.ready.gov
Remember, there is an Island-wide curfew in effect from 6pm to 6am.
Recent articles of note:
“North end of Long Beach Island spared much of Hurricane Sandy’s destruction”
“New Jersey Natural Gas Shutting Off Gas Intrastructure to LBI, Other Barrier Islands”
Final thoughts: Mayor Oldham stated the effort isn’t over once HC residents are allowed back on the Island. It is only just beginning and we need people to come together as a community to accomplish this. We need people to cleanup their properties, help their neighbors and volunteer to get HC on its feet. The HCTA will inform you of volunteer opportunities as they arise.
The HCTA will continue to publish daily updates, even if only to let you know nothing has changed. We look forward to working together as a community to rebuild.