By Michele J. Kuhn
WEST LONG BRANCH – Sea Bright residents will be permitted to check on their homes and retrieve essential items – according to a set scheduled – on Monday and Tuesday, Nov. 5-6, and most likely will not be able to move back until they have obtained a Certificate of Occupancy.
Residents are also bracing for a nor’ester than is predicted to hit the area Wednesday, bringing with it high winds, and heavy rains.
While the damage in Sea Bright has been extreme, there has been no loss of life, Mayor Dina Long said. “Thank you… for hanging in there … for keeping the faith,” he said before requesting a moment of silence and reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.
Long held a meeting Sunday afternoon outside in the stadium at Shore Regional High School to update the resident of the borough that was hard-hit by Hurricane Sandy. Hundreds of residents sat on metal bleachers in the chilly air and listened to Long as she and other officials spoke over a bullhorn.
The mayor told residents that all properties in the borough had been assessed for damage and that 56 were deemed to be uninhabitable and no admittance could be gained. Others had been deemed as substantially damaged; still others had from little visible damage to varying degrees of damage.
“Every single house in Sea bright sustained some damage,” Councilman C. Read Murphy told the shivering crowd.
Each borough property has been inspected and its assessment is listed on the borough’s website at www.seabrightnj.org.
“We have moved heaven and earth to get you in to your property,” Long said of the schedule officials mapped out for residents to return briefly to their homes.
Those living in the northern end of the borough up to the Rumson Bridge may visit their property from 9 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 5. Those with property south of the bridge may visit from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 6.
Residents may bring bags to get essential items to the foot of the Rumson Bridge during those hours. There they will be put on shuttle buses and dropped at their property. They will later be picked up and shuttled back to Rumson. “Please do not bring children. Please do not bring pets,” she said. Long also asked that resident not walk around the borough because conditions are still considered dangerous.
While visiting their homes, residents can board their windows with plywood and supplies donated by Builder’s General. Borough employees will be able to help residents with the window boarding.
While Long said she believed residents with would not be able to go back to their homes with full access for themselves and their cars until Monday, Nov. 12, Councilman James LoBiondo said he believed it could be this Friday, Nov. 9. Long later said she hoped LoBiondo’s assessment was the correct one. She called the situation in Sea Bright “fluid” with changes occurring on a regular basis.
LoBiondo reported to the cheers of the residents that all gas leaks had been contained but service would be shut off to half of the borough for up to a month because of the damage to the system.
Sewer pumps that were damaged in town were being replaced this week.
Water service has not been interrupted and the system would not be shut down because officials wanted to keep the sprinkler systems in buildings with them operational. However, resident who had burst pipes were told they could shut off water to their homes, if it could be safely done.
LoBiondo said the fire department has been going door-to-door to look for noticeable water pipe breaks.
Crews from Jersey Central Power & Light (JCP&L) were working Sunday in town, along with power company crews from as far away as Ohio, to restore power. They were initially replacing or straightening utility poles and checking their status. Once that was completed, they would begin repairing or restringing power lines.
Six feet of sand was blown onto Sea Bright streets and could be fouling various service lines. Crews were working to check them and were looking to see if storm sewer lines needed to have sand blown out of them to help lessen the impact of any flooding from the anticipated storm this week.
Councilman Murphy reported that the seawall had been breached in two placed, near Tradewinds and the old Anchorage beach clubs.
Murphy praised the mayor and council and said they all had “boots on the ground since day 1” to assist residents and get the borough back to as near normal as possible. Long also praised council members, borough employees, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Monmouth County for its response to the disaster.
A representative of FEMA told the crowd that he worked in Washington. D.C. and had worked on other East Coast hurricane recoveries. “I toured your area a couple of days ago,” he said, “and, to be honest with you, it blew me away.” He urged residents to call FEMA (1-800-621-3362) and get a case number so the agency can assist them.
Representatives from FEMA will be available on Tuesday at the Fair Haven Fire Department on River Road — where Sea Bright residents are to cast ballots on Election Day — to help answer questions and assist residents. Phones will be avaiable for those who need to contact loved ones or their insurance companies.
Long said Bingham Hall, 40 Bingham Ave, in Rumson was a place where residents could go for warm clothing, a hot meal, hot showers and take care of other needs. Food, water and cleaning supplies will also be available at the VNA office at 141 Bodman Place in Red Bank.
The mayor urged residents to keep checking the borough’s website for updates and not to believe rumors that have been swirling about.
Rescue workers got a bit of a boost Sunday when world class chefs David Burke of David Burke Fromagerie in Rumson, Chris Wood of Woody’s Ocean Grille in Sea Bright, Pat Trama of Ama Ristorante at Driftwood and others brought food and equipment to the Sea Bright Firehouse and cooked them a meal.