a.The Mayor and Township Council are committed to the goal of returning Ortley Beach residents back in their homes as soon as possible, once conditions are certified to be safe for residents to return to their homes on a permanent basis. Unfortunately, the Ortley Beach area sustained more significant damage than the surrounding areas, and the re-population process is further complicated by the widespread level of damage. Due to the damage caused by Superstorm Sandy, the State of Emergency declared by Governor Christie is still in effect for Ortley Beach.
The process to lift that order begins with the Township submitting a formal written request through the Ocean County Office of Emergency Management, which is reviewed and forwarded to the State Office of Emergency Management for final review and approval. In order for the Township to make that request, there are several factors that must be addressed. First, all utilities must be operational at a level that will sustain daily life for all residents in the affected area. The current status of utilities for Ortley Beach as of 1/23/13 is as follows:
i. Gas – Click here for update
ii. Sewer Service – The Toms River Municipal Utilities Authority (TRMUA) had very little damage to their infrastructure on Ortley Beach. The west and middle zones are ready for sewage flow. The eastern zone near the ocean will take longer to repair. An updated timeline will be posted on our website as soon as it becomes available.
iii. Water Service – NJ American Water Company now has potable water on the entire barrier island, including Ortley. The water is safe to drink.
iv.Electrical Service (updated 2/1/13) –Click here for update.
b.Condition of Major Roadways in Ortley Beach: In addition to the restoration of utilities, the condition of the roadways in Ortley Beach must be assessed and certified to be safe, prior to the Governor approving any request for repopulation. Currently there are two roadways that are a concern. Bay Boulevard sustained major damage, inclusive of an ongoing problem with recurring sinkholes and undermining of the roadway. Bay Boulevard is a County roadway. The Ocean County Engineering Department has been working constantly on addressing the maintenance and reconstruction issues for Bay Boulevard. The County Engineering Department and the Township have major concerns about the current condition of Bay Boulevard and the County is now projecting that the entire roadway will need to be reconstructed. Once the County is able to develop a more definitive timeframe for the reconstruction of Bay Boulevard, we will publish the schedule on the Township website. The other major roadway that sustained substantial damage is Ocean Terrace. The road basically does not exist any longer and the utilities that were in the roadway have been exposed to the elements. The Township plans to rebuild the road and is currently attempting to coordinate the planning for the project with the water, gas and sewer utilities since all utilities have to be replaced prior to the roadway construction. The township is projecting that Ocean Terrace will be reconstructed during the months of February, March and April; however, weather conditions may alter or impact this schedule. A coordination meeting has been scheduled for 1/4/13 to further discuss this project with the utility companies.
c.Debris Removal: The removal of debris by the Township and its designated contractors has been ongoing since the day after the storm. That debris removal process is the impetus behind the staggered schedule for daily re-entry so that sections of the island can be cleaned up while property owners are in other areas. Thus far, over 40,000 tons of debris have been removed from Toms River, inclusive of the barrier island. At least two complete passes through Ortley Beach have been completed and the process will continue for the foreseeable future. As residents are able to re-visit their properties and begin the rebuilding process they are placing more debris out for pickup. Once the repopulation request is approved, the debris removal process will be slowed by the fact that there will be more vehicles and construction trucks in the area, which will complicate the process. Therefore, the Township is making every effort to maximize the debris collection effort over the next few weeks in anticipation of the repopulation of Ortley Beach taking place. Weather conditions may alter this time frame as well. Specific questions concerning debris removal can be sent to the Director of Public Works, Lou Amoruso, at Lamoruso@tomsrivertownship.com.