Hurricane Irene's Effects Still Felt as Repairs, Assessments Continue
Unclear when and if some Cedar Glen residents will be able to return home
Though the flood waters brought on by Hurricane Irene may have subsided, some Manchester residents will continue to feel the storm's effects for some time to come.
"The water never came up that high before and I've been here 19 years," said Cedar Glen foreman Jim Lavaggi. Waters damaged three quad housing units, the neighborhood's office, library and recreation hall, all of which remain closed.
Manchester Emergency Management Coordinator Arthur Abline said that it is unclear when the displaced Cedar Glen residents can return to their homes after over 2 feet of water entered the 12 residences.
The Whiting church shelter they had been housed in has closed on Tuesday. Though most will stay with family or friends, some are being aided by the Ocean County Board of Social Services, which is providing them with temporary shelter until a more permanent solution can be found, Abline said.
The northern branch of the Toms River, which borders the edge of the neighborhood and comes within feet of Walnut Street, has risen a few inches before and even approached the doorsteps of homes. But it never caused considerable damage, Lavaggi said. Cedar Glen management, which declined to be interviewed for this story, had to move its closed office to an unoccupied home.
Flood waters compromised the electrical systems in the damaged homes, Abline said, which could mean a lengthy repair timeline as the proper inspections must be made. FEMA representatives are expected to arrive in the area this weekend to assess the damage and determine if the homes along the river on Walnut Street are worth repairing since rising waters could again cause damage, according to Abline.
"More than likely, that's something that will be looked at," he said.
The federal agency will also tour municipal facilities, which Abline said have not received any notable damage.
"The township facilities are doing pretty well, considering," he said.
Cedar Glen's maintenance crew had 14 of its vehicles parked in the recreation center parking lot throughout the storm. As waters began to rise Sunday night — in some cases up to the vehicles' hoods — maintenance employees and Manchester Chief of Police Brian Klimakowski worked together to move the vehicles to higher ground.
"The chief went above and beyond the call of duty," Lavaggi said. "It's well-appreciated by me and the Glen."
The neighborhood's maintenance staff and contractors have already began making repairs. Most recreation center contents, including furniture, sit in the parking lot as water-logged sheet rock several feet high is cut out of the buildings' interiors.
"We definitely took a beating," Lavaggi said.
Flood waters also surrounded the Pine Lake Park Clubhouse on Morningside and 8th Avenue in the township's Pine Lake Park section. Grace Peck, the president of the Pine Lake Park Taxpayers' Association, the nonprofit group that manages the clubhouse, said that she does not know what damage, if any, flooding caused to the nearly 80-year-old building.
"We don't know exactly yet," she said. "We have to go down in the basement."
Like many others have said, Peck called the flooding "the worst" that she has ever seen.
"It was unbelievable," she said, adding that it appears the electric box, which is located in the basement, was not affected since lights were working.
Peck said that she was not worried about Hurricane Irene's winds as the storm approached. The flooding that followed was unexpected since it came hours after the storm had left.
"We didn't get anything until the day or two after," she said. "It was very strange. Water surrounded the entire thing."
Just south on Route 571 from Pine Lake Park, Abline said that power remains off in the Surf and Stream campground since "every electrical system there was compromised."
"The power had to be cut off at the poles," he said, and will not be restored until the township's building department can determine that it is safe to turn back on.
Abline said that he hopes work to the damaged areas, including the Route 571 bridge near Manchester's border with Toms River, will be completed soon. County road officials said that they hope to have the highway open by the weekend. Over 10 county repair vehicles were on the scene Thursday afternoon.
"It's a matter of getting back to normal," Abline said.