Good evening everyone, Hope you have had a better day than yesterday.
We have more info to share tonight, so I decided to sit down and write it up rather than wait until the morning.
HCTA President Phil Kunz spoke at length with HC Mayor Jon Oldham this afternoon. The following recap is from that conversation plus other reliable sources:
* Harvey Cedars is making headway in the cleanup effort. Debris/trash has been removed from the streets and front end loaders are working on clearing sand from the side streets. Road crews are working with outside contractors to clear roads of sand and debris. Many areas are impassable on both ends of the island.There are bulldozers working on the beach.
* HC is still without power, gas, and sewer. A big problem is the gas company is talking about shutting off service to the island. ( I will attach an article from around 4pm today that specifically addresses this topic at the end of this recap.) There are many gas leaks and it is Jon’s understanding that there is not a gas company presence in HC and possibly on LBI. The fear is that if gas service is cut off, it will take a very long time to get it reinstated. With the on set of cold weather and the need for heat, members can understand the concern. If anyone has clout with New Jersey Natural Gas, we ask you to reach out to us and please ask for their help.
*Most homes where there has been obvious damage the utilities have been turned off. Once property owners are allowed back on the island, they will need to have any utility that was submerged inspected prior to its use. Jon will be walking the beach front homes (suffered the most damage) with the building inspector in order to determine if they are safe or need to be condemned. If they are deemed unsafe they will be taped off and marked accordingly. We have no further info at this time on this.
*Voting- all towns have worked together with the County on establishing a voting location in Stafford for those voters that evacuated the island. This info was sent to you in todays Update 2. At the same time they are working on a location in LBT for those voters still on the island. We will inform you of the polling place and times as soon as we have any factual information. Voters will be given a mail in ballot which they will fill in and return immediately. Remember, these ballots must be collected by 3pm on Monday to be counted. It is true at this time, that if someone leaves the island they will not be allowed back on until the island is reopened. Anyone that is still left on Long Beach Island is urged to self-evacuate or call the police department for assistance in evacuating. The Shelter at Southern Regional High School is still open and accepting evacuees.
* Security-The local municipalities are being supported by Ocean County assets as well as the National Guard. A curfew has been put in place for all towns on Long Beach Island. No One is allowed out from 6 PM to 6 AM. This is being strictly enforced by the Island Police Departments and the ocean County Prosecutors Office. The State Police and The Ocean County Sheriffs Department are actively patrolling the waters around the island to prevent people entering by boat. This is to mainly guard property. No one should be returning to the island except for those contractors and resources that have bee requested by the towns.
* Mail- there is no information coming from ‘on the island’ about mail. Because of power outages, etc. they do not know/hear about much beyond what they are dealing with everyday in HC. Jon Oldham learned much about what was happening beyond LBI today from a meeting he had with Jon Runyan.
* Animals/Pets-Anyone with pets that were left in homes may call the police department in their town and arrangements can be made to retrieve those animals. Alternatively, firstname.lastname@example.org to make a report.
* Jon is aware that some emergency management alert messages suggest checking your municipal website for more information. Internet access for HC was just reestablished today and there is little information. The Long Beach Township website and the HCTA website are good resources for current information.
* One of today’s alerts stated that “it will be a minimum of 7 days until the island will be accessible again”. There is has been no date established for people to return to the island. Information on this will be sent out when it is known. People are asked contact police only for emergencies.
The Offices of Emergency Management will keep everyone informed on the progress as it is made. Local officials are working diligently on behalf of their citizens to minimize a prolonged evacuation of the island. These include the towns of Barnegat Light, Harvey Cedars, Ship Bottom, Beach Haven, Surf City and Long Beach Township.
From President Phil Kunz: I can only imagine the amount of effort our public officials (and all involved) are doing for the sake of our safety and the good of the island. We can not thank them enough. In addition, Trustee Jim Loudon mentioned today how lucky we in Harvey Cedars are. If it were not for the foresight and tenacity of our Commissioners and the assistance with contacting people regarding the beach replenishment from community volunteers, we strongly feel that we would all be in much worse shape. Thank you Commissioners for truly working to make Harvey Cedars safer thru the dune replenishment project.
For more information on the proposed island wide gas shut off, click on this link: http://pointpleasant.patch.com/articles/new-jersey-natural-gas-shutting-off-gas-intrastructure-to-lbi-other-barrier-islands.
Pleasant dreams, prayers for all emergency/clean up personnel and Island officials. We hope for the best in this difficult time for us all.