Mayor: 'Ortley Beach is Known as Ground Zero'

Mayor says residents need to mentally prepare themselves for devastation

Column as submitted by Toms River Mayor Thomas Kelaher:

I  want to remind all Toms River residents that plans are currently underway for barrier island residents to get back into their homes as soon as feasibly possible.  

I don't know that our residents fully understand the devastation that Hurricane Sandy has had on our beach community. Ortley Beach is known as Ground Zero.   I think our residents need to mentally prepare themselves for what they'll see.  Landmarks are not there anymore.  Parking lots have had their asphalt ripped apart and literally thrown to the other side of the street.  Houses have no staircases.  Many homes were pulled from their foundation and are leaning on the dirt.  Many homes are not structurally sound to even enter.  Add to the fact that the roads are cluttered with enormous piles of debris, over 20 sinkholes and several dislodged homes are blocking the pathway to several roads. 

We understand that other towns have allowed residents into their homes.   We cannot comment on what other towns are doing, but we have been told, as per the NJ Department of Transportation, State Office of Emergency Management Officials and Public Safety personnel, that we are not allowed access until their assessments are completed.  We need to abide by their orders for the safety of all residents.  We have been blessed in the fact that there were not any fatalities or major injuries.  I'm not going to overrule the DOT's safety procedure to appease outspoken individuals.


Arrangements are underway for a safe re-entry plan and residents will be updated on our township website the moment that information becomes available.  You will be given ample notice and multiple opportunities to visit your homes, get belongings and winterize.


Thank you for your continued patience during this difficult time.


Tax Questions


Tax Payments

Due to Hurricane Sandy, the Toms River Township Council will be passing a resolution at its next public meeting that will authorize the extension of the grace period for the payment of real estate taxes through December 31, 2012.

This resolution will waive any late payment interest fees relating to the fourth-quarter 2012 real property taxes.


My house is damaged or non-existent.  Do I still need to pay my taxes?

The Township is awaiting advice from the New Jersey Division of Taxation regarding real estate taxes for homes affected by the storm.  These taxes are regulated by the State of New Jersey and not Toms River Township, and all local plans must be approved.  Updates will be posted on the website.

Barnegat Ray November 09, 2012 at 02:07 AM
@ New Jersey Bob and others...I did not take the photos or videos that I have posted on here. Some have been passed onto me by friends...some I grabbed elsewhere on the net...some came from YouTube. I am one of the frustrated full time residents of Ortley Beach who cannot get on to see or access their property. Many want to see photos of their properties...I simply scrounge for photos and videos to help others. I read the rules for entering Seaside and Toms River communities in the next few days...I am appalled! They are treating adults like they are in kindergarten, and not giving anyone the neccessary time they need to assess, retrieve, clean, winterize, and plan...it's degrading, humiliating, and insulting. Did you read it?...what you can hold on your lap on the bus??? Disgusting...Berkeley handled it much better...I was on both entries, and we drove in like adults...
Catherine Galioto (Editor) November 09, 2012 at 10:23 AM
Hello, Toms River has announced a plan for barrier island resident access. Check out this update: http://tomsriver.patch.com/articles/toms-river-barrier-island-residents-re-entry-plan-begins-friday
chris November 09, 2012 at 10:26 AM
MRX November 09, 2012 at 11:19 AM
The plan for re-entry to the island sounds like a great plan, so for the next five days people will be riding buses up rt 35 north to there homes. If Ortley beach is so unsafe then why is this being allowed. The point of my comment is that sections of Ortley Beach should also be allowed for instance homes east of route 35. With every disaster if you are connected there are always the "EXCEPTION"! I don't have flood insurance and have been told by my insurance company I will be getting nothing so to add to the injury our fine officials won't let us go there and try to save the rest of the house that needs to be winterized . To add insult to injury I will also lose my boiler, hot water system, water pipes, toilets, etc.,etc. Thank you TR OFFICIALS. For the next five days I can what the busses pass my unsafe block. Ray Coolidge
J November 09, 2012 at 12:13 PM
2 days after the storm I waited by the bridge and watched what was going on trying to see if I could get over to my house but to no avail however I saw A Seaside cop letting his guido friends over who were not emergency workers and when I confronted him he was full of shit about it also there are videos on YouTube of bus loads of supposedly community people from Lavalette/Ortley riding around on Bay Blvd and they have no problem cruising around and laughing and wisecracking while riding down th streets . There are more houses that are still standind than were knocked down by the storm mine included I have seen pics of my house and it is ok. All responsible parties are handling this situation horribly for the citizens of Ortley Beach I don't trust anybody
Barry November 09, 2012 at 01:29 PM
@Paul I agree with you. This whole process has been frustrating but what do you hope to accomplish by staging a protest at the bridge? That will inevitably slow things down. I for one don't want this process to take any longer than it has to. I would be all for your method of getting your point across if people were unjustly preventing us from seeing our homes. From what I hear (via good sources) their method is not unjust. Lets face the facts, Ortley (my town for 25 years) has encountered catastrophic damage. The area has to be deemed safe before you, I or anyone else can go on. There are guys who are either away from their own families or home state who are working their rear ends off in order to get us back into our towns. Lets not be counter productive and most of all lets remain patient.. On a side note, Although we are in a very difficult point in our lives we all need to work together and most of all have trust in the system that is in place. As for the individuals working their rear ends of on the island.....I thank you and keep up the good work.
taxed-out-the-wazoo November 10, 2012 at 12:53 AM
Agree with you about the protection, but I have direct knowledge of some of the damage...people who stayed. And, we actually have background in engineering, too, etc., and our house is standing and liveable...just needs tweeking and repairs and cleaning. We also have pictures of the streets....they walked around the community....Rt 35 North...a mess; Rt 35 South...pretty good/actually great - how do you think they are getting in the vehicles onto the island and the residents to the other communities....using Rt 35 South and heading north. My neighborhood (the homes in the section between the A&P through Lavalette from Route 35 S to Bay Blvd) most are standing in their original spots...water damage for certain...wind damage, but they seem to have not moved. Several streets have holes where the curbing used to be (thanks to the water company for not backfilling as they should have done when putting in the meters). But, certainly not life threatening and you can walk over them (about 11/2 wide)....and they did. There were cracks in my street that were more threatening that the Township refused to fill in well prior to this. So, not sure why some areas (btw - Chadwick and Silverton beach allowed on...mostly cottages...again, ALL going past Ortley to gain access. Where they dropped in by helicopter...I don't think so. We have reason to be upset. Ortley has alot of work...but not insurmountable. The bridge washout in Mantoloking is much worse. And, now repaired.
taxed-out-the-wazoo November 10, 2012 at 12:58 AM
You are absolutely correct....I DO have pictures of the roads...immediately thereafter...friends who were there....and Rt 35 South is great (which is the road they are probably using to access the REST of the island, past ours).
taxed-out-the-wazoo November 10, 2012 at 01:05 AM
Next time...video tape this guy and his guido friends. Load that to U-tube. Sure Christie would like that. Btw - we were told by APP - friend is a reporter - that "they had photos of the island..probably what you are referencing. Meanwhile the other towns are gaining access to their properties while PASSING THROUGH ORTLEY unless they are being dropped in by helicopter. Don't p** down my back and tell me it's raining.
taxed-out-the-wazoo November 10, 2012 at 01:10 AM
Crap...we could have had GOOSE winterize our houses while over there. This bodes well for the lawsuits.
Senior Citizen November 10, 2012 at 01:55 AM
R I am sorry you do not have flood insurance, but the insurance companies needed to know this was not just a a flood but also it was a hurricane with winds up to 90 miles per hour and your homeowner policy should cover part of this if not alI. I do not know what these insurance company are smoking these days. I heard that other here In Staten Island were told the same thing from Allstate and Liberty Mutual. Somewhere along the line the Federal Governent must step in and help. I know FEMA and the SBA will not help anyone if the Barrier Island is not there permenant home Good luck I also have a home there that my wife and I purchase for our grandchildren to enjoy and keep off the city streets.
Barnegat Ray November 10, 2012 at 02:01 AM
I believe it was classified as a tropical storm when it hit land...and that may make a difference in coverage and deductibles.
ed crowley November 10, 2012 at 02:06 AM
Wonder if we will ever find out how how the football player got on the island guess he went the same way the looters did. Seems that some property qwners are more important then others.
CICEL November 10, 2012 at 02:14 AM
My parents do not have flood insurance and homeowners will not cover any water related damage. My sister who does have flood insurance will be covered by flood - her homeowners came in and said sorry, not us. That's the reason for flood insurance. Plus, technically it was a Tropical Storm by the time it hit us which is good because if it was a hurricane, well there's a whole other policy and red-tape for that damage.
dainty November 10, 2012 at 02:17 AM
It was listed as a Cat1 hitting land and a tropical storm inland.
CICEL November 10, 2012 at 02:18 AM
I'll say it again, this is an absolute disgrace. I can not believe that there has been no legal action yet. We can't get to our house and when we do, we can't do anything to stop it from becoming even more of a moldy disguisting mess with potential for freezing pipes!
Senior Citizen November 10, 2012 at 03:05 AM
R None of this makes any sense.The insurance companies are making up there own rules.We all have homes on the Barrier Island. Are they saying it was a Cat1 and when it hit the beach it became a topical strom are they kidding or what.The GOV. and the PRES.must get these insurance companies to step up and do the right thing we pay for this insurance what the does it cover.Ortley beach pays higher taxes than Toms River resident because we own beach property yet we have no sewer system and everytime it rains hard our streets and corners are flooded, that always a problem I wonder if this had anything to do with the Sinkholes.Cicel If your parents and sister are permenant residents they can apply to FEMA and Sba for a low interest rate loan, I think the rate is 1.68%.
Miranda November 10, 2012 at 04:55 AM
Not sure what you're trying to say but you're either illiterate or ignorant or both.
Bill Storm, November 10, 2012 at 12:37 PM
Maybe now the Toms River Mayor & Counsel will build up the DUNES on Ortley Beach and not allow construction on the DUNES. It was proven in South Seaside Park & Seaside Park that DUNES do work. Limit the damage from future storms and protect the residents of the barrier island and limit property damage, maybe the next time you won't be "GROUND ZERO".
jayne braun November 10, 2012 at 02:32 PM
Diane is this any help..SEaside HEights is allowing entries on Sunday..I might be able to help
jayne braun November 10, 2012 at 02:42 PM
Dee Ive asked DIane to contact Me. Seaside HEights is allowing entrance this Sunday something might be put together
Susan November 10, 2012 at 05:05 PM
He had a boat on the main island that he took over on October 31. What he should of done is taken some pictures to share with neighbors and do something real important for others than being so self serving! He has lived on my block for twelve years and you think he would have done and been more neighborly to others. With all his connections he should have taken a news crew with him and shot actual footage for us. All I can say is we should not put these NFL stars on a pedestal, buy their vodka, watch there dumb a.s shows or listen to them. I only have respect for those who help others and goose is not one to respect!
Theresa Stinger November 10, 2012 at 05:20 PM
Where will all the money that is being donated go? Will it be like Hati, so many years later and people still living in tents with all the donations that were sent there?
John November 11, 2012 at 12:22 AM
AGREED...... Here is a quote from Gov Christies' speech. "Christie said the state will allow residents controlled access to assess damage, retrieve belongings and permit repopulation of the island for residents whose homes are safe and habitable. People should procede with caution as there is still a lot of work going on and dangerous conditions in many areas". Work is continuing in LBI, while the residents return. They have not electric and must boil their water. And without signing waivers! Why is this not the same for Ortley and the surrounding area. They have been working in Ortley for 10 days. Rope off the worn, torn beach area and the part of Bay Blvd . Sink hole should be rope off by now. To familys who lost homes, on both sides of the bridge. To homes owners and renters. This is not about someone who has 1 house in TR or someone who has a house at the shore and 1 elsewhere. Some of us work very hard for what we have. This is about our Governor listening to OUR LOCAL POLITICIANS KEEPING US FROM OUR HOMES. FOR REASONS OF THEIR OWN. And that's against EVERYONE'S CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS.
Barrymnj November 11, 2012 at 11:23 PM
Remember this mayor, you were elected. Wait till next time! Ground zero or not start letting owners in. Even if it is only one street at a time.
John November 12, 2012 at 03:09 AM
This is what a few of us Ortley Beach residents witnessed this morning on Rt37. After 2 weeks and counting, NO ACCESS TO OUR PROPERTIES. With all the tax dollars that TR milks from us. We get a humiliating school bus ride to our properties for 1 hour with 1 suitcase to remove our belongings. http://m.youtube.com/#/watch?feature=em-share_video_user&v=-g7MYfleX-o&desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3D-g7MYfleX-o%26feature%3Dem-share_video_user
Amy November 12, 2012 at 04:43 AM
RalPh: By definition, "Ground Zero" describes the point on the Earth's surface closest to a detonation or the point of mass destruction... Yes, the term was used to reference the damage to Lower Manhattan on 9/11 but the term was NOT created for that catastrophic event just rightfully used to describe it. The Mayor does not need to apologize for using the term and if you think so, you are misinformed and totally missing the point.
Amy November 12, 2012 at 04:45 AM
By definition, "Ground Zero" describes the point on the Earth's surface closest to a detonation or the point of mass destruction... Yes, the term was used to reference the damage to Lower Manhattan on 9/11 but the term was NOT created for that catastrophic event just rightfully used to describe it. There is no disrespect n using this term. If you think so, you are misinformed and totally missing the point. Worry about what matters - getting the barrier islands safe for re-entry, cleaned and re-built.
John November 12, 2012 at 11:25 AM
I guess Keyport and Union Beach doesn't have major destruction, they do. Boats/ cars on bridges and in the water and roadways upside down. With gas and oil leaking in the waterways and in the communities. Businesses destroyed roads torn up and poles down. The whole town of Union Beach and parts of Keansburg have to be leveled. Was it the same destruction as Ortley, probably not as big. BUT MAJOR..... And the difference is, the day after the storm people were helping people. They are climbing thru the rubble cleaning up. The difference is, 2 HARD WORKING BLUE COLLAR TOWNS WORKING TOGETHER. THEY WEREN'T BLOCKED OFF FROM THEIR HOMES OR BROUGHT IN ON A BUS TWO WEEKS LATER. A week fine, 2 weeks is becoming a JOKE. I think the Mayor is still standing with his hands in his pockets steering at the Surf Club parking lot like in the picture above.
Lou Cando December 21, 2012 at 07:00 PM
I used to go to ortley beaches until I finally got sick of the North Jersey Attitude Hey Get out a My Way on the roads.. people drinkin beer and smoking pot on the beach. the beach staff was nice and the fishin pretty good but the residents and visitors especially the Joey crowd they missed the beauty of the beach..which is still there... but the big attitude houses and every inch development got whooped I do empathise with all the loss that was taken but hopefully its future will be made by people ie contractors trying to make a living(not a fortune) and owners trying to enjoy the place instead of trying to make an impression.


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