Letter: Central Voice Needed for Toms River Barrier Island

Information is not thorough, resident says

Letter to the Editor submitted by Toms River resident Carol Brown:

I saw you posted an article via the Toms River Patch regarding the Seaside Heights plan to allow residents back to their homes.  This is great information, but the real story is the inconsistency and utter restriction among beach communities allowing residents to go back to their homes.  I have been gleaning lots of information from some internet and Facebook sites.  For instance, the Mantoloking Police Department post a daily update on their website telling its residents what is going on with cleanup, and they were already allowed full access to their properties and got to do what they needed to secure their homes. 

Normandy Beach has done a similar thing for the Normandy Beach side that is not part of Toms River.  Lavallette has a website at www.lavallette.org that also post daily updates to its residents and took the first 90 residents that signed up on a reverse 911 phone subscription to visit their homes recently for a whole day to assess damage, clear out the debris in their homes, and pack valuables.  Brick Township today also posted its plans, by beach, by day, to allow homeowners back to their homes.  Seaside Park residents were allowed in one day, and then told they could not return because the roads were impassable.

I sent the following letter below to the Toms River Police Chief today because my parents, who are full time residents, and their beach association of 95 homes known as Ocean Beach Shores, have gotten the runaround and are not allowed back to their homes.  Apparently all homes on their street, Ocean Bay Boulevard, took on water.  It is a street 3 blocks long, stretching from beach to bay, sandwiched in between some of the hardest hit towns at the shore, Ortley Beach and Mantoloking/ Normandy.  While the arteries to access Ocean Bay Blvd. in Ocean Beach Shores have been impacted by the two breaches in Mantoloking, folks are still accessing their homes somehow and I can only assume it is via the remaining artery: Rt. 37 bridge.  The Toms River Police Chief responded to my email asking that I call him, which I did, and then proceeded to repeat the information regarding “their process” for allowing homeowners back onto the island, starting next week stretching out at least three weeks, which frankly I can read on their website www.tomsrivertownship.com

My concerns are twofold:  1) preference should be given to those residents that are full time and essentially homeless with all of their valuables locked in their homes; and 2) the time limitations and restrictions placed on homeowners which will not allow them to properly assess property damage, collect belongings, and winterize their homes will cause further damage to properties that at this point may be salvageable.  Kudos to the Toms River Police Chief who did in fact go to my parents property, snap a photo of the front, and emailed it to us.  However, it was hard to decipher from him who was in charge of organizing this town by town effort to allow homeowners essentially their basic right which is to go to their properties…  The Police Chief mentioned the NJ DOT, NJ State Troopers, National Guard, and said that they were all in agreement road conditions were impassable and therefore they could not allow residents to travel them.  Why is it then that all of these individual towns post daily updates and instructions allowing their residents back to their homes, yet Ocean Beach Shores residents have not been able to get there since the storm? 

Who is really in charge?



Carol Brown

diana kochan November 09, 2012 at 01:21 PM
I totally agree with the points that Carol Brown has expressed. I understand that the magnitude of the disaster in TR Township is greater due to its size. The fact is that TR has lagged behind other beach communities in informing the residents of the barrier islands of plans for access. KNOWLEDGE IS POWER. Provide the residents with the knowledge they need so they can shed the feeling of powerlessness they have after Sandy. Posting daily updates on the municipal webpage for them is not an overwhelming task and it is the least that can be done for them.
Pat Weber November 09, 2012 at 01:37 PM
How about residents of Ortley Beach---we have not been allowed at all!!!!!!!!!When can we get to our homes???!!!!!!!!!
robert curran November 09, 2012 at 02:56 PM
Bob Curran..If Ortley Beach is unsafe for us to get to our property how can it be safe for buses to go through it to bring others to towns North of us???
RAY FALLON November 09, 2012 at 03:23 PM
Suddenly the ball is rolling on access to the barrier island. Full time residents are being allowed back to OBI, II, III from Nov 9-13. Our full time residents will report back to the partime residents on the conditions of their homes while there. We all are anxious to check our properties as well as the flood adjusters that wait on the mainland to also view the damaged properties.
PJ Ortley November 11, 2012 at 04:03 AM
Has anyone determined if our insurance companies will cover loss when our water pipes (and my hot water heat system) freeze, not due to flood, or wind, or rain, but just because we were not allowed in to winterize after the town shut off utilities? My insurance company already told me they are not responsible for loss if the municipality turns off the electricity or gas. So far my homeowners, flood and FEMA have all refused to help because it is "not covered" or "we do not have the information we need" to support your claim. In the meantime, I am paying a hotel bill every night.
Robyn Bartels November 11, 2012 at 12:48 PM
I am in complete agreement with the article written, as, well as, comments made. I am a Chadwick Beach full-time resident and owner of Chadwick Island Marina. Since last Friday, when we were forced to leave our home & business, we have been left wondering WHO is charge in TR Township. Our marina has been totally devastated due to water damage. We have boats that toppled like dominos, boats that were carried away, and boats that are hanging between land & water. Winter is upon us -- besides storm damage these boats have to get winterized to avoid further damage. I get 200 emails daily from customers -- how am I supposed to answer these people when we are not allowed access to our business? My husband has been to city hall several time, has made many calls to the police chief all to no avail. This town is too big for anyone to handle & NO ONE in Toms River knows the community over on the island. They don't know who we are or what we are about; however, they know how to raise our taxes & collect them just fine. SOMEONE who knows what he is doing needs to step up & take charge!
anthony averso November 12, 2012 at 01:03 AM
the toms river township has left in the dark too long,information about ortley beach is not sufficient and they doing very little for the taxpayers . their town site says basically the same day after day.i know they are trying but the answers to questions have fallen on deaf ears. in my opinion they are over their heads no disrespect intented. ortley beach residents deserve more.
charlotte November 23, 2012 at 12:58 AM
Toms River has clearly fallen behind compared to the other barrier island communities as far as their response and communication efforts.
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