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?