Hurricane Sandy Displaced More than 5,000 Toms River Residents Since Storm

3,000 from Ortley Beach

A reddish pink mark on a township map — it's code for a house that is missing or part of a block of "unidentifiable rubble."

Orange means 60 percent or more of a home is damaged.

There's about 225 orange and red marks in Ortley Beach alone, according to the map presented at Toms River township council last night.

An estimate of the number of Toms River residents displaced by Hurricane Sandy easily tops 5,000, township officials said.

"That's a low figure," said Toms River Township Administrator Paul Shives.

Rounding to 3,000 Ortley Beach residents, and 1,500 mainland residents, the number of people displaced from their homes are living in hotels, evacuation shelters, rental properties, with friends or family. Shives said at a state Senate Budget Committee meeting Monday that the figure is likely much more.

"There are quite a few in local hotels here, getting access as permitted," said Shives, noting that many of these longterm hotel tenants are barrier island residents. Those neighborhoods — Ortley Beach, Normandy, Chadwick, Silver and Ocean Beaches — are still under a mandatory evacuation and are permitting residents to enter for clean-up on certain days between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m.

The map of affected properties shows the red and orange blocks — those that were destroyed by Sandy or faced significant devastation — are mostly located closest to the oceanfront. 

The color green — properties which faced little flooding or water damage — is marked the least on the map. For the most part, the barrier island map is the color yellow: denoting damage to the first floor from flooding, damage defined as zero to 30 percent.

Homes, businesses, public property was damaged. "We have an estimated 9,000 properties affected," Shives said. "That includes mainland devastation we’d never imagine."

About 225 homes in Ortley Beach are gone or cannot be occupied, Shives said.

"This is significant. This is substantial," said the township administrator.

Previously, Mayor Tom Kelaher said about 20 percent of the township's tax base is gone.

Shives said that beyond the financial costs of rebuilding, the township will see a tremendous impact to the revenue side of the township budget. Taxation, tax assessments and suspending building permit costs will each have a dramatic impact.

For example, the township approved $35 million emergency bond ordinance for the storm's emergency costs. In comparison, the total annual budget of Toms River is just over $100 million as it was approved this May.

"We’re going to need some help bridging this gap financially," Shives said.

Rebuilding the township could take 2, 3, 5 years, he said.

"I've never seen a storm where roadways are gone," he said.

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Michael Capo January 04, 2013 at 06:03 PM
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