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Brick Barrier Island Residents May Gain More Access Soon

Mayor says he's just waiting for state approval

Brick hopes to allow its barrier island residents and property owners to be able to drive to their properties in their own vehicles "soon," but the township needs state approval first.

"We hope it will be soon, we hope it's within days," said Mayor Stephen Acropolis, on a bus tour Thursday of many of the township's Sandy-ravaged waterfront and low-lying sections. "We're just waiting for some construction work to be cleared, for Route 35 to be opened and for approval from the state Department of Transportation."

On Thursday morning, Acropolis, Police Chief Nils Bergquist, other police officers and the National Guard traveled by police-escorted bus with a limited number of media to tour the township's barrier island and other damaged areas for a few hours.

Reporters were able to see, for a limited period of time, some of the worst damage on the bayfront, oceanfront and along Route 35 and Mantoloking Road as well as the staging areas and command post where township police, the National Guard and the military run their 24-hour security operation on an island that has no working utilities.

"Only Lavallette has some utilities because they have some of their own," Acropolis said. "But there's nowhere to pump the water, so I don't think I would want to live there right now."

Oceanfront homes on Ocean Terrace, in Brick and continuing across the border into Toms River, were heavily damaged, sitting as gutted shells of their former selves, about 30 yards from the ocean, with a heavily eroded beach in between. Many had been gutted by the sheer force of Sandy's raging surf. Another house had been cut off at its foundation and dropped into the sand. It looked like a scene out of the "Wizard of Oz" and one expected to see the legs of the Wicked Witch sticking out from under the crumpled mass.

So far, all of Brick's barrier island residents, who wanted to do so, have made at least one trip on police-escorted buses to their properties to check on them and take some personal belongings, Acropolis said. Two people per household have been permitted.

Acropolis said he has been on many of those bus trips and residents' reactions to seeing their homes for the first time have varied greatly because some have been devastated while others sustained only minor damage.

There are 132 homes in all of Brick Township that are considered "totalled," Acropolis said. He noted that while many oceanfront houses were badly damaged or, in some cases, knocked off foundations and swept away, there was also a lot of damage to bayfront homes. He said some homes with their backs to Barnegat Bay simply have no more backs.

Of the 132, 110 to 120 of those are on the barrier island. Of those barrier island homes, they are either "gone" or so severely damaged that police could not allow residents to enter them to pull out even a few personal items, said Bergquist.

When asked how residents reacted to having to turn around on the bus without so much as one personal momento from their destroyed homes, Bergquist replied, "We've had grief counselors on all of the buses. And, yes, they've been used."

As the media tour bus drove east on Mantoloking Road, Acropolis began to narrate the tale of destruction.

"See this boat on the side of the road, that had been in the road," Acropolis said, as the bus drove east on Mantoloking Road.

"See that sailboat tipped over, a lot of them were like that," the mayor said. "A lot of clean up has already been done."

A lot of clean-up has already been done, but so much destruction remains.

As one travels east over the newly-repaired Mantoloking Bridge, and looks to the left, you can see a house sitting in the Barnegat Bay next to an island.

Driving down the newly-fixed end of the bridge, which had been easily washed away by Sandy, you can see a wall of steel sheeting that was built within the last few days parallel to Route 35.

The wall is to protect what's left of the oceanfront, the chief explained.

"The dunes were gone, the structures were gone, something needed to be done," he said. "Sand will be pushed up against that."

To the right of the bridge is a brown house that seems to be sitting loose in the water.

"That's the house that came off its foundation and hit the bridge," Acropolis told the reporters. "The bridge was checked and it's OK."

Acropolis said the state Department of Transportation "has done a fantastic job" clearing roadways and cleaning up and is still working on it.

"You wouldn't believe the difference between now and 10 days ago," he said.

At some point, the Mantoloking Bridge will be closed for several days so some work can be done in the area, but there is no word yet on when that will be.

When the bus turned onto 6th Avenue, there was a noticeable burning smell, not surprising since there had been house fires nearby, officials said.

A couple in a two story brown house, in between Route 35 north and south, stayed in their home during the storm, often calling and texting with police. The ocean flooded their first floor, fires burned in Camp Osborn and all around them, but they were fine when police found them the Wednesday after the storm, which blew through the area Monday, Oct. 29, into the following day.

Reporters viewed destruction to homes, cars and boats along various sections of Route 35, including a section between Bay Tree Court and West Kupper. At D&R Boat World, 501 Route 35 North, boats were tossed about and smashed into each other. Across Route 35, a car lay in a wet sink hole in front of a damaged house.

At 9th Avenue, there was a truck stuck in a sink hole in front of Charles Bait and Tackle Shop.

A number of local landmarks, such as Charlie's Farm Market and Used to Be's bar on Route 35, are still standing.

The next phase of Brick's recovery plan for the barrier island begins Friday when residents will be able to return to their homes with their contractors, if they have first registered with the township, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Phase 3 will allow residents and their contractors to be on the island from dawn to dusk, Bergquist said.

Residents returning to their homes have been asked to drain water systems in their homes, to empty boilers and hot water heaters.

"But we'll have them back in their homes before it's freezing temperatures that would make the water freeze," Acropolis said.

The tour bus made a stop at the command post, next to Pioneer Hose Company #1, on the media strip between Route 35 north, which will remain closed for a while, and Route 35 south, which will run in both directions for the near future,

Lt. Col. Brian Griefer of the Air National Guard said at the command post, flanked by a line of Humvees, that he and many other Guards members had been to Katrina.

When asked to compare the level of destruction, he said, "This is similar, if not worse.

Griefer said the National Guard began planning for the storm well before it hit and began deploying to Brick's barrier island the day after.

"I've been here eight days," said Griefer, a Bergen County resident.

When asked how much longer the barrier island will be essentially an Army encampment, with National Guard members pitching tents and building open fires to try to stay warm along Route 35, Bergquist said, "For the immediate foreseeable future. We need to provide security and safety. We haven't had looters. We had a report of one theft. People have tried to come onto the island by foot, by car, by boat and by kayak and we've turned them away."

Lauren November 15, 2012 at 11:20 PM
Just a few corrections....Osborn ( there is no "e"), it's Bay Tree Ct., not road and it's West Kupper, not Cupper. I lost my summer home in Camp Osborn to the fire. It was in my family since 1957. Our entire community is heartbroken. We are like one big family and hope that we can rebuild.
Ocean club at mantoloking November 15, 2012 at 11:24 PM
Overwhelmed by the amount of work and progress over the last two weeks. thank you doesn't even measure up. Couldn't be more appreciative. Thank you, thank you. An amazing team led by an even more amazing governor!
Serina Sharkey November 15, 2012 at 11:27 PM
not "all" Ortley Beach residents have been allowed to their homes. while other towns are now permitted to drive their own cars to thier homes. something is wrong with this picture.
Denise Di Stephan (Editor) November 15, 2012 at 11:28 PM
Thank you, Lauren. Corrections made. I'm truly sorry for your loss.
Lauren November 15, 2012 at 11:31 PM
Thank you. And yes, the Governor has done a great job as well as the National Guard and all of the State Troopers I saw on Tuesday. Awesome job!
Special K November 16, 2012 at 12:40 AM
Oh yea thats important with whats happend. Freking spelling, are you for real?
Mary E Rowlands November 16, 2012 at 01:40 AM
Those homes look like the cuckoo clock when it fell from the dining room wall at my grandmothers! especially the one tilted face forward.
Missing Brick November 16, 2012 at 01:49 AM
Tiny steps, but in the right direction.
Missing Brick November 16, 2012 at 08:09 AM
http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/jcpl_sandyreparations/
Lauren November 16, 2012 at 12:28 PM
To Special K....I lost a home in that area, so obviously spelling is not the most important thing. I just wanted it corrected. My family has had a summer home in Camp Osborn since 1957 and I am devastated for everyone that has lost something or someone. If me being a little sensitive to this situation bothers you then I am sorry. BTW, you may want to check your spelling:0
Brick85 November 16, 2012 at 03:15 PM
Lauren I am deeply sorry for your loss of your Summer home. However, my heart really goes out to the locals who lost their only home. I was fortunate my home lasted but many other close friends and family lost their only home. Loss of any kind is devastating but when its your only house where you have everything the magnitude is worse. Being a local I am very sensitive to the loss of those who only had one home. They are the ones who will have the most difficult time rebuilding and pray for their safety and that god continues to give them strength as they rebuild their life.
Don Smith November 16, 2012 at 03:59 PM
Well I am a lifelong summer resident of camp Osborn. I spent 62 years there so far. Mom who passed in August spent 72 seasons there. Our family place has been there since 38'. The original homestead there was under 400 ft sq and cost $50 in 38. Times were hard. It was a used building from Mutuchen where there is now a food town. Must have been early recycling. So here is a correction that goes way past spelling. There were 120 homes in the Camp Osborn Lynnhust Drive fire that were destroyed or badly damaged. That would imply there were no other houses in brick lost given your numbers. Being a year or so shy of retirement it wan my plan to summer there full time soon. Everyone is fearfull that they will not be able to recreate the simple life of the camp. I would like to know that the town will let us rebuild our simple homes (Less then 1,000 ft sq) as they were keeping with current standards passed just last year. Maybe this time we can have the utilities keep the trasformers and their fire risk away from residential properties.
lauren November 16, 2012 at 04:29 PM
I do not see anywhere where Lauren says POOR ME I lost a summer home. While you are a "LOCAL" there, I also have a SUMMER home that has been in the family for 57 years. I spent ALL my summers there and my weekends as well. I became part of that community just as the "LOCALS" have. I have paid my taxes and worked my...... off so that I could rebuild the home in a COMMUNITY that has been part of my family for 57 yrs. I grew up at the beach and so now has my 19 year old son. All of my friends while I was growing up were from the beach. He is now best friends for 19 years with two girls who grew up with him on the street next door. Not with anyone from our PRIMARY residents. Three years ago we rebulit our home and the first thing my Dad said when he saw our NEW home was ''Grandpa would be proud". I am fortunate to say I still have my house. I know people who live there year round that don't. I cry for them because they have nothing to go back to. Just because we are not "LOCALS" and only have a summer home does not make the hurt any less. We feel for our neighbors and we all carry memories of what was and never will be again. From one Lauren to another, I am sorry for your loss.
Don Smith November 16, 2012 at 05:08 PM
lauren, I am really sad when I hear of people saying never again. I have hopes of having a modest place back in the camp by next year or summer 14 in time for retirement. Meantime I will live on my sailboat and park on my rented land.
lauren November 16, 2012 at 07:37 PM
Don, I did not mean things will not be replaced. I only mean't that what we DID have is gone. We will rebuild, replace and make new memories and we should cherish what was. I for one look forward to the new but I will always miss what was.
Lauren November 16, 2012 at 11:48 PM
Lauren, thank you for your kind words. Don, my grandmother knew your mother....she lived behind us at the Camp. We were on Cummins. I only hope that my kids can experience the kind of summers that I did as kid. I hope that everyone can rebuild. The Camp was my "happy place". I am heartbroken for everyone that lost something. Good Luck.
Chuck Lada November 17, 2012 at 01:04 PM
I just don't understand how people can be grateful for being allowed to visit their homes after two weeks. You live in America!!! You were denied your constitutional rigfhts to liberty and property for two weeks because you have abicated your judgement to a government bureaucrat who is the only one wise enough to deem when it is safe. Why does this not occur in Texas and Florida when they have devistating hurricanes? I will tell you why. When their polliticians are sworn in and promise to uphold the constitution they take that pledge regarding this sacred document seriously and they know they would never be relected if they ignored the constitutional rights of their voters. I feel that this issue is strong enough to insure that are Governor Chris Christie could never be elected President. I lived for thirty years outside of New Jersey (the nanny state) and praise God that their our still citizens in the USA who cherish and uphold this precious docement, God Bless the USA!!!
proudnot2bliberal November 17, 2012 at 01:36 PM
OK Chuck ladda I will type very slowly so you unbalanced mind can follow.1st you should change your name to friggin nut job. 2nd the government’s 1st job is to protect people provide for their defense. The island was not safe gas leak fires, downed wires ECT 3rd the infrastructure (that big word means roads & bridges) had to be rebuilt & supported. 4th if you had a house in the area would you want people driving by gawking & taking pics of you? These people have lost their homes (weather it’s their 2nd or summer home is irrelevant they earned with their money) some owned by the family for generations. In this time of despair people need to shoe respect & not turn these areas into "sideshows' as 1 sign reads I saw just off a main roadway in Point "If you don’t live here STAY OUT"! That being said I as many believe Gov Christie has done a superb job staying on top of this & keeping the people informed providing aid & funds.
Chuck Lada November 17, 2012 at 02:03 PM
Why do people in Texas and Florida not share your oppinion? Your screen name "proudnot2biliberal" is a joke. Only a full blooded liberal would believe that their government is smarter than them in determining what is safe. All of your safety arguments had disappeared two days after Sandy. It is almost three weeks now and some people have yet been allowed to see their homes. As far as weather I would want people gawking? I am a resident of Seaside Heights and I understand my constitution does not give me a choice. In america citizens are allowed to travel freely on public streets. You would want me to believe this basic right needs to be suspended to protect someones feelings? You are the one who is unbalanced.
Mattie November 17, 2012 at 02:37 PM
TROLL. Plain and simple, Chuck, you are a Troll. There are many topics on which "proudnot2beliberal" and I may not agree - at all- but when it comes to you, and people like you, who are tin-foil hat anti-government, conspiracy-around-every-corner NUTbags... we do agree. If you have nothing positive to add to the conversation, no practical suggestions and no help to offer those suffering at this time, in this situation, just shut up and go away. And take all the other nutbags (they know who they are) with you. Later.
Mattie November 17, 2012 at 02:39 PM
I would bet my last dollar that my 3 yr old dachshund is smarter than you, Chuckles....
Chuck Lada November 17, 2012 at 02:54 PM
When you cannot refute the truth....attack and discredit the truth teller. Your techniuqe is obvious. Intelligent posters such as myself realize that you, Mattie and proudnot2bliberal, are the ones resorting to posting insults....You two are the trolls (my guess is that you are part of the Governors publicity staff, that is paid to refute truth tellers). No I am not a conspiracy nut job. I only post the truth so that intelligent readers can form their own oppinions.
Brick Prick November 17, 2012 at 03:17 PM
Mattie, It's clear that chuckle the doll is a troll like you say. Merely looking for confrontation bc he has absolutely nothing to do he wants to drip his BS can't figure people like him when people are suffering no time to speak politics chuckles go away !!! Met a woman today in a supermarket this morning who has no home and lives with friends she was just so upset in the store I wanted to help so much so sad. Then you see a moron like chuckles
Chuck Lada November 17, 2012 at 07:03 PM
BP your screen name says more about you than I could. I post using my real name. Why are you hiding?
proudnot2bliberal November 18, 2012 at 06:51 PM
Yeah ok youre obviously a nutcase because no one in their right mind would live in Seaslime. If you can open your eyes & mind 1/25 of you open your mouth you might see the many sink holes, downed power lines & other debris still being cleared in the area. I live less than a mile from one of the divested areas & there are many truck loads of debris being taken out daily. Again if you could read & understand the article the town cannot let people into their severely damaged homes due to liability reasons. That mean s if somebody goes into their home & the town can possibly be sued by some scumbag lawyer because they have been brought or let in an unsafe area. Just do a little research & you can find hundreds of cases of frivolous lawsuits in situations like these. As for people in TX & FL I know some who live/lived there & they do possess the common sense you seem to be completely lacking

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