As some residents moved back to their Ortley Beach properties this week, police offered a glimpse into the incident increases in the area in the months following superstorm Sandy.
Police dealt with 941 incidents from November 2012 through January 2013, up from 371 incidents during those months one year ago. Rescues, animal incidents, suspicious automobile reports, 911 hangups and "other" incidents all had increases, according to the data provided by the Toms River Police Department (see chart below).
The police statistics came as some residents were allowed back into Ortley over three months after Sandy struck. Mayor Thomas Kelaher said in a statement that he is "pleased" Gov. Chris Christie was able to lift the state of emergency for those Ortley residents who have had their utilities restored, allowing them to return home.
"I’m always glad to be able to announce that people can move back into their homes," he said. "Unfortunately the order does not apply to all homes because we can’t certify that all lots have the four necessary utilities working"
A map prepared by Toms River engineering officials shows that many properties closer to the ocean remain without utilities, which means those residents cannot return home, should their structures be habitable.
"The homes east of Route 35 in Ortley were the hardest hit, and many of those lots are missing either electric, gas, sewer or a combination of them," Kelaher said. "All homes have potable water.”
Kelaher said that the township is working with utility providers on a "daily basis" to complete electric and gas installation. JCP&L began replacing utility poles in the beginning of February, the company announced. But even when utilities are restored, returning home won't be an option for some.
"I’m sure everyone understands that there are certain areas of the Ortley oceanfront where homes were destroyed and knocked off their foundation, and that it will take considerable time to get the utilities back and functioning in those locations," Kelaher said.
The mayor said that Ocean Avenue, which was torn up by Sandy, must be reconstructed. From there, the township is looking ahead toward the months ahead.
"We’re optimistic to have part of the beaches open for the summer season," he said.
Ortley Beach Police Incident Statistics, Year-to-Year Comparison
911= 911 hang up calls
Ut. = Utility (water or gas) leaks
Check = Vacant home checks
Ani. = Animal incidents
Acc. = Accident incidents
Susp. Auto = Suspicious automobile incidents