Many Residents Welcomed Back To Barrier Island, While Ortley Awaits Word
Towns have allowed the barrier island to be repopulated. Ortley Beach remains an exception.
Residents of much of the barrier island were given permission to come back home for good Monday morning following re-population approval from Gov. Chris Christie's office late last week.
The North Beach area of Toms River, all of Brick Township and single-family homes in Seaside Heights were included in the plans to re-populate on Monday.
Toms River officials said Ortley Beach is not cmpletely ready for people to move back in. Mayor Tom Kelaher said utilities are simply not available.
Elsewhere, however, what, exactly, people were returning home to following Hurricane Sandy depends on where you go and whom you ask.
Ron Carlucci counts himself among some of the lucky ones. The Lavallette resident said his home received minimal damage in the storm, unlike several of his neighbors who are still in the process of gutting their homes for their own eventual returns.
Though his garage was significantly damaged and his prized '66 Thunderbird wrecked by flood waters, Carlucci said he and his wife were able to move back into a home that's much the same as they left it more than two months ago.
"I cried when I saw my car," he said. "But were we lucky? Hell yeah."
In many instances, restoration and rebuilding is still taking place, limiting the number of residents who will actually be able to move back into their homes.
In Seaside Park, police are still denying access to anyone who isn't a homeowner or a contractor. Ortley Beach, one of the hardest hit areas on the barrier island hasn't been given the go ahead for re-population just yet.
Bill Petruzel, owner of Barnacle Bill's amusements in Ortley Beach, said he's still waiting to hear from the town about when he can move back into his upstairs apartment. He's heard a week, but it could be more.
In some cases, residents have been given the all clear to move back in to their homes, but significant reconstruction efforts have stalled reentry.
Stephen Bache came back to New Jersey from California to help clear out his 86-year-old mother's Lavallette home. She'd been living alone for the past seven years, he said, and he's not sure if she'll ever be able to come back.
Much of the first floor of her home needs to be torn out, and he's not sure what will happen with the property when the family makes a final assessment.