The effects of Hurricane Sandy are still being felt throughout Toms River. While it has been over a year since the storm, many individuals and families are still recovering from the disaster and are faced with the difficulty of cleaning up their homes and neighborhoods. Many homes have been repaired or are in the process of being rebuilt. While there is a lot of work to be done, much progress has been made in the Township as we continue to recover as a community. Much of that hard work came from local residents and groups in numerous capacities.
Assisting Survivors with Housing
The Township’s public schools along with various churches housed hundreds of student volunteers from national and international groups, including Samaritan’s Purse, Long Term Recovery, Catholic Heart Camp, National Relief Group and AmeriCorps.
Monsignor Donovan High School housed the Catholic Heart Workcamp program. The service organization provides groups with various projects. During their visit, students from around the country assisted residents with painting, removing debris and sand from homes, and repairing damaged roofing.
Samaritan’s Purse, a nondenominational evangelical organization providing spiritual and physical aid to people around the world, plans to help about 50 people return home over the course of the next two years. Many families will be from Toms River as the group has a site located in the Township. The repairs and new homes are at no cost to homeowners, who were chosen because they lack the means to restore their own homes or because they lost their houses completely in the hurricane.
The American Red Cross, the Community Food Bank of New Jersey and Church World Services are also just a few of the dozens of organizations working on long-term recovery projects here and up and down the shore.
Helping to Rebuild
Numerous volunteer groups from as far away as China travelled to Toms River to assist in the cleanup and rebuilding of homes after the storm. Many of these organizations remain on site to continue in the recovery and rebuilding process.
The National Relief Network (NRN) brought large numbers of volunteers to the state with the purpose of helping families in their efforts to rebuild their homes. The organization made Toms River a top priority this spring and summer.
Toms River has also invested $28 million in public works infrastructure, including projects for road repairs, upgrades to utilities and parks. The Township has also worked on coordinating workshops to assist residents with navigating the FEMA process and new flood zone regulations.
The People’s Pantry, a relief center founded by the Township’s school district, continues to offer long-term recovery and help for Sandy victims. Each month, the pantry helps provide food to 3,200 families. People’s Pantry has also donated clothing, cleaning products and furniture to storm victims. The Bucket Brigade was formed in Ortley Beach to help homeowners clean up sand and debris and rebuild their property. The Paying It Forward Foundation, a grass-roots disaster recovery organization, along with other volunteer groups, is currently rebuilding the Seaside Heights American Legion building. They are also assisting veterans who lost their homes from the storm. Finally, there are also many small groups and individuals without recognition who continue to aid in the recovery on a daily basis.
As you can see, neighbors are helping neighbors. The Township Council has also been consistently working with local charities to provide the assistance homeowners need and will continue to need over the next few years. We, on the Township Council thank these organizations for their continued efforts.