The state of emergency declared by Gov. Chris Christie is still in effect for Ortley Beach.
That's why the community isn't ready to take back its residents full-time.
The mayor and township council say they are committed to the goal of returning Ortley Beach residents back in their homes as soon as possible, once conditions are certified to be safe for residents to return to their homes on a permanent basis.
Unfortunately, township officials say, the Ortley Beach area sustained more significant damage than the surrounding areas, and the re-population process is further complicated by the widespread level of damage.
The township's website does have a debris removal schedule for Jan.11-31. The barrier island opens to residents from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Jan-11,14,17, 20, 23, 26 & 29 East Zone Closed for Collections. Middle and West Zones open to homeowners and contractors.
Jan-12,15, 18, 21, 24, 27 and 30 Middle Zone Closed for Collections. East and West Zones open to homeowners and contractors.
Jan - 13, 16, 19, 22, 25, 28 & 31 West Zone Closed for Collections. East and Middle Zones open to homeowners and contractors.
According to the township's website, the current status of utilities for Ortley Beach involves the following:
- Gas – NJ Natural Gas completed the re-pressurization of the main gas line in Route 35 and is currently re-setting individual meters in the Ortley Beach area where it is possible to do so; however, due to the extensive damage, allproperties located east of Route 35 northbound have been cut off from the main as well as some other areas of Ortley Beach. The gas company has assessed the damage in Ortley Beach and is in the process of re-pressurizing the areas of Orltey Beach than can safely accept gas service. The projected completion date for the re-pressurization of those areas and re-setting of meters is by Feb. 1, 2013 for Ortley Beach, other than the properties east of Route 35 northbound. Weather conditions may alter or impact this schedule. Due to the degree of damage to some properties in Ortley Beach, it is not possible for NJ Natural Gas to re-set all meters. Property owners are urged to contact NJ Natural Gas if they have specific questions regarding the re-setting of their meter.
- Sewer Service – The Toms River Municipal Utilities Authority (TRMUA) had very little damage to their infrastructure on Ortley Beach. The west and middle zones are ready for sewage flow. The eastern zone near the ocean will take longer to repair. An updated timeline will be posted on our website as soon as it becomes available.
- Water Service – NJ American Water Company now has potable water on the entire barrier island, including Ortley. The water is safe to drink.
- Electrical Service (updated 1/9/13) – The electrical system in Ortley Beach was substantially impacted by the storm and there are areas of Ortley Beach that no longer have utility poles. Jersey Central Power & Light (JCP&L) has restored service to the "Middle" and "West" section of Ortley Beach (see township map) on 1/7/13. JCP&L restored service to the following area in the "East" section on 1/7/13 (see township map), customers located between Route 35 North and South and isolated customers East of Route 35 North. JCP&L continues to work with the township on its master plan to rebuild the "East" section before company facilities can be rebuilt in order to allow service restoration to begin. If you meter has been removed due to flooding or other damage, JCP&L will install a new meter after the service has been repaired by a qualified electrician and inspected by a state or municipal inspector. After notifying the company, please allow 2-3 days for the meter to be reset. If you have a meter and your power has not been restored by then you may need to reset your breakers. Please check to make sure you have turned your breakers on. If you have checked the breakers and remain without electric service, please contact us at 800-984-9585 to speak with a representative who can expedite your request. Please say “outage” when you reach the customer service main menu and then say “representative” at the outage menu.800-984-9485 to speak with a representative who can expedite your request. Please say "outage" when you reach the customer service main menu and then say "representative" at the outage menu. Here is a website to follow: https://www.firstenergycorp.com/content/customer/outages_help/Sandy/barrier_island.html
- In addition to the restoration of utilities, the condition of the roadways in Ortley Beach must be assessed and certified to be safe, prior to the Governor approving any request for repopulation. Currently there are two roadways that are a concern. Bay Boulevard sustained major damage, inclusive of an ongoing problem with recurring sinkholes and undermining of the roadway. Bay Boulevard is a County roadway. The Ocean County Engineering Department has been working constantly on addressing the maintenance and reconstruction issues for Bay Boulevard. The County Engineering Department and the Township have major concerns about the current condition of Bay Boulevard and the County is now projecting that the entire roadway will need to be reconstructed. Once the County is able to develop a more definitive timeframe for the reconstruction of Bay Boulevard, we will publish the schedule on the Township website. The other major roadway that sustained substantial damage is Ocean Terrace. The road basically does not exist any longer and the utilities that were in the roadway have been exposed to the elements. The Township plans to rebuild the road and is currently attempting to coordinate the planning for the project with the water, gas and sewer utilities since all utilities have to be replaced prior to the roadway construction. The township is projecting that Ocean Terrace will be reconstructed during the months of February, March and April; however, weather conditions may alter or impact this schedule. A coordination meeting has been scheduled for 1/4/13 to further discuss this project with the utility companies.
- The removal of debris by the Township and its designated contractors has been ongoing since the day after the storm. That debris removal process is the impetus behind the staggered schedule for daily re-entry so that sections of the island can be cleaned up while property owners are in other areas. Thus far, over 40,000 tons of debris have been removed from Toms River, inclusive of the barrier island. At least two complete passes through Ortley Beach have been completed and the process will continue for the foreseeable future. As residents are able to re-visit their properties and begin the rebuilding process they are placing more debris out for pickup. Once the repopulation request is approved, the debris removal process will be slowed by the fact that there will be more vehicles and construction trucks in the area, which will complicate the process. Therefore, the Township is making every effort to maximize the debris collection effort over the next few weeks in anticipation of the repopulation of Ortley Beach taking place. Weather conditions may alter this time frame as well. Specific questions concerning debris removal can be sent to the Director of Public Works, Lou Amoruso, at Lamoruso@tomsrivertownship.com .