Ocean County to Assist Beach Haven With Storm Debris Removal
At its first meeting since Superstorm Sandy, the Beach Haven Borough Council vowed to get “the Queen City” back on track during an offseason where storm recovery will be on the front burner.
Borough Manager Richard Crane said that softening the financial blow, at least temporarily, will be a shared-services agreement signed last month with Ocean County. Crane said the agreement covers the monumental task of removing storm debris, much of it furniture and other household items ruined by Sandy due to homes and businesses sustaining extensive water damage.
“The county is using the same contractor we were going to use (AshBritt),” said Crane at the Dec. 10 meeting. “The county will carry the upfront costs, and then they will eventually bill us. By that time, we should know how much funding we will get from FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency).”
Crane said he hoped most of the debris and bulk trash could be removed before Christmas.
“We’ve been making progress, but it is a monumental job, much more than anything we could handle,” he said.
He said the public works department has been trying to refortify the beach, which lost “huge amounts of sand.”
“Most of the sand ended up on our streets,” said Crane. “Right now, we really don’t have a dune line. I can only hope that this winter will be mild like last year, because we can’t afford any storms.”
Crane said the storm washed away the Fifth and Pearl street pavilions, and also severely damaged the beach patrol headquarters on Centre Street.
“The pavilions were very popular spots for weddings,” he said. “I’m sure a lot of brides and grooms are unhappy about this. They loved to go back and visit those places, and now they’re gone. I don’t know if we’ll be able to build new ones in time for the summer; there’s so much work that has to be done.”
Crane said the borough’s water supply is back on line; since last month, the borough had been using Long Beach Township water. He said the storm damaged the water system’s electrical pumping system.
“The next step is to see how many water meters and water meter pits have been damaged,” he said. “I’m sure there are many of them.”
Crane said that as a result, the borough has suspended water meter readings for the fourth quarter of 2012 and the first quarter of 2013. Homeowners will still be responsible for paying the $125 quarterly fee.
The manager said it is uncertain when borough hall will be reopened. The borough has set up shop in the emergency operations center, the former U.S. Coast Guard building on Pelham Avenue.
“Some places in the (borough hall) had up to 4 feet of water,” he said.
Not all operations will be in the OEC; the court clerk is working out of Harvey Cedars, and the construction inspection office is based in Surf City.
Crane said the water department and public works would be located in trailers outside the borough hall.
“Our police department is still operating in the same location,” he said. “They’re not connected to the municipal building, and their offices are a little more elevated than we are.”
Borough Clerk Sherry Mason said the flooding resulted in old borough records sustaining water damage, and it would be necessary to hire a company to “freeze-dry” the documents.
“While many of our records are filed on computers, we still have to keep original tax reports, maps, deeds and other paperwork,” said Mason.
“We’re going to get back on our feet,” said Councilman Jim White. “I want to thank the many volunteers who helped us all go through such a difficult time.”
“This was devastation we have not experienced,” added Mayor Charles Maschal. “This will be an off-season like no other.”
— Eric Englund