Sandy – A Reckoning

2013: Gain With Pain

The Beachcomber
By NEAL J. ROBERTS | Aug 11, 2013
Source: Facebook post The Bagel Shack in Beach Haven was among the first shops in the south end of Long Beach Island ready for business in early December. Owner Sean McCaffrey’s new sign spelled encouragement for the New Year.

 

The Superstorm Sandy disaster and recovery on Long Beach Island, as was chronicled for seven months by the staff of The SandPaper. Part 7.

 

“A New Year, A New Beginning,” stated the back page headline in a Giglio Awning ad in The SandPaper’s first 2013 issue. Ever since Sandy, Dave Voris’ Harvey Cedars company had been the most visible promoter of the “LBI Open for Business” campaign, running weekly advertisements that carried slogans of encouragement plus photos of shops and restaurants that were back on their feet.

Sadly, that encouragement was still sorely needed, as evidenced by the pain in Beach Haven resident Joe Bulman’s sobering letter to the Jan. 9 SandPaper: “Little did we know that when Sandy’s flood waters receded that, some two months after the hurricane, our family and our neighbors would be threatened by a rising tide of indifference and greed on the part of our insurance companies and mortgage lenders… My wife and I are left to explain to our two sons why they have to sleep on a couch or the floor of a relative’s home because we can’t afford to have our own home repaired.”

We also heard from David White, commander of Barnegat Light VFW Post 3729. Their oceanfront headquarters at 11 East Winifred Ave., Beach Haven Crest, suffered an estimated $150,000 in damages. “Unfortunately, we don’t have the insurance coverage to cover the cost to repair our post,” wrote White in a public appeal for donations. Losses included the first-floor mahogany bar, the commercial-grade kitchen ensemble on the second floor, and both rest rooms. “It just makes us heartsick to see all of the damage. We can only put it back together as the money becomes available,” said Sandy Dueben, auxiliary president.

More than 250 people signed up in advance for a Jan. 12 fundraiser for the Ship Bottom Volunteer Fire Co. “It just means a lot that the towns are getting together like this for us. The stuff we’ve been through can’t be put into words,” said fire company president Dan English. “Sandy Blows,” held at the Surf City firehouse, featured music and food for a suggested $10 donation; the effort raised more than $25,000 from 1,500 to 2,000 people, many waiting outside in line to get in to the 10-hour, day-night affair. One-fourth of the donation was a $6,000, “Aloha for Long Beach Island” contribution raised at two bars in Hawaii by former Ship Bottom residents Kathleen Henderson and Donna Baker, now living on Oahu.

Alice Stockton-Rossini was the high-spirited organizer of the Jan. 12 dance party: “Seeing people come together for a common cause and making a difference in their community – what’s better than that?”

Yet from that Island high on Saturday the 12th, the Island spirit hit a low on Sunday the 13th with a letter to Long Beach Island Trailer Park tenants: the park was not recovering from Sandy.

“We were all family here throughout the years, united and happy campers. After Sandy this all changed,” wrote owner Bob Muroff, explaining that with all the utilities and infrastructure ruined, he could not afford the estimated $1 million to reopen. “While anything can be rebuilt … the cost estimates associated with rebuilding the trailer park as it was, are staggering,” said the letter. Muroff’s family bought the park in 1953, and his aunt and uncle were the operators until they died at the height of the March 1962 Ash Wednesday Storm during a failed rescue attempt in Holgate. Muroff’s parents then ran the park until turning that role over to their son.

“Sunday was a very sad day for me,” said tenant Lisa Cozzi. “I will miss everyone so much. The community of the park was very special.”

Elsewhere in Holgate, Lindy’s Trailer Park and Marina owner Al Czerwinski and Farreny’s Family RV Park & Boat Basin owner Bryan Farreny both said they were making repairs and would be open by spring. They both said they had waiting lists of prospective tenants hoping to move from Muroff’s property but had no spaces available.

* * *

The new Long Beach Township Long-Term Recovery Committee got going with a new website, LBIisAlive.com and a “See You This Summer” local sign campaign. Chaired by Commissioner Joseph Lattanzi, the township’s effort was positioned to provide an Island-wide service for homeowners, businesses and vacationers. “We want people to make the best decisions moving forward with recovery,” said Long Beach Township Police Chief Michael Bradley, an organizer of the new planning group. “We’re trying to make it comprehensive.”

The next week, Long Beach Township, Beach Haven and Ship Bottom announced application to the FEMA Hazard Mitigation Program. It could reimburse homeowners from 50 to 75 percent of the cost to elevate a house. The towns’ engineering firm estimated house raising costs between $50,000 and $110,000; homeowners would have to pay their contractor first, and then seek reimbursement through their town.

Gov. Christie addressed the issue during the 100th Town Hall meeting of his administration, held Jan. 16 in front of about 1,000 people at St. Mary’s Parish Center in Manahawkin. He promised to act soon – and did, the next week – to adopt the now controversial FEMA flood hazard zone maps. That was done, according to the governor, to help homeowners make the best decisions now about rebuilding in order to keep eligible for the best flood insurance rates. Officials in many towns, though, vowed to fight FEMA about the new inclusion of so much bayfront as part of the highest hazard, V-zone rating.

(FEMA later said it would need until August to redraw flood hazard maps for New Jersey, but it beat its own timetable, getting new maps to the public by mid June – and it rescinded almost half of December’s expanded V-zone acreage.)

Christie also cited the beach replenishment issue. He said he personally told President Obama such projects “are not optional” if the vital shore economy is to be preserved: “We need to do this,” he told the president. And to the Jan. 16 audience, Christie added, “I’m going to do everything I can to make sure that some private homeowners aren’t going to be the ones that either stop that from happening or hold taxpayers ransom for their views; it’s not right.”

The governor’s point drew a standing ovation from the audience.

* * *

The last Saturday in January saw more than 300 people turn out to see the post-Sandy documentary “East Coast Rising – A Surfer’s Tale of Hurricane Sandy,” shown at the Long Beach Island Foundation of the Arts and Sciences in Loveladies. The event raised $15,000 to benefit the Waves for Water Unite and Rebuild relief effort. One immediate recipient that night was construction contractor Dan Vilardi, widely praised for his tireless work helping Island storm victims rebuild despite being displaced from his own flood-damaged home.

And then on the last day of January, Fosters Farm Market in Beach Haven finally reopened its deli-grocery operation – a welcome relief to local resident Ginny Gottshall. “There are a lot of people stuck at this half of the Island that need food,” she wrote in a Facebook “like” for Fosters, a town landmark that dates back to 1952. It is operated now by Kirk and Kristy Davis; Kirk’s father, Jeff, had run it for three decades.

Meanwhile, the south end’s only retail grocery sources – Murphy’s Market in Beach Haven, the Acme Supermarket in Beach Haven Park and the Wawa store in Beach Haven Terrace – were not expected to finish post-Sandy renovations before March at the earliest.

* * *

Getting tons of sand back where it came from was not only difficult and expensive, it was also complicated. (For reference, sand covering a 10-square-foot area just two inches deep weighs a ton.) It was not permitted to be merely scooped up and thrown back on the beach. The towns required oversight to make sure storm debris or filth didn’t get placed on the beachfront. Long Beach Township set up a huge sand filtering operation in Holgate, from where sand was redistributed along the shorefront. In Beach Haven, the Taylor Avenue parking lot became a temporary sand depot, before it later moved to the beach. That would continue until Feb. 20. “But after that date, contractors will have to take the sand out of the area,” said Beach Haven Borough Manager Richard Crane, giving the public two weeks notice. He said there were still many homes in town where owners had not cleared away sand. “It will be their responsibility to have it hauled away,” he said.

Southern Regional High School sophomore Jimmy Ward posted his second post-Sandy video on Feb. 6. His first, titled “Hope,” was posted online in November, with somber footage of LBI in the immediate aftermath of Sandy. The sequel (see LBIisAlive.com) was filmed to underscore the “LBI Is Alive” campaign to gain public confidence in LBI as a summer vacation destination in 2013. Ward portrayed himself as a runner in his videos. Several hundred runners helped raise $23,000 in the Feb. 16 “Let’s Get Sandy, Run for a Cause” held in Surf City. The charity was to help Island fire companies and Alliance for a Living Ocean cope with flood-incurred loses; praise went out to four “Island girls” – Natalie Aftanis, Janie Kleber, Chloe Snyder and Catherine Snyder – for the event success.

Next Week: Beach Easement Holdouts.

Read the series at thesandpaper.net under the Columns tab.

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