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Barrier Island Access Still Spotty; DEP Speeds Road and Bridge Repairs

Folks who haven’t seen their properties off the Ocean County mainland are gradually being given limited access, but the decisions are municipal and not blanket policies.

Aerial view of damage in Seaside Heights following Sandy
Aerial view of damage in Seaside Heights following Sandy (Tim Larsen, Governor’s Office)

As noted elsewhere in our news section, Brick Township is carting island dwellers by school buses over the Mantoloking Bridge, neighborhood-by-neighborhood, with a schedule that continues through next Monday. The service goes on hiatus Wednesday as the Nor’easter headed our way plows through.

Toms River and Berkeley Township residents who can prove that they live on Pelican Island are being given clearance that ends at 4 PM today. The staging area is the Bellcrest Plaza on Fischer Boulevard.

Other sections of Toms River, Lavallette, Seaside Heights and Seaside Park remain sequestered, with no official information forthcoming about any change in the policy.

The access efforts seem to conflict with the New Jersey Department of Transportation edict, issued Monday afternoon, barring travel to and from the island on grounds of safety concerns. Officials at the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management appear uncertain whether the local initiatives circumvent state directions.

Sensing the need to fix critical infrastructure quickly and to bypass red tape, state environmental chief Bob Martin today issued blanket approval for local repairs to roads, bridges, culverts and bulkheads, saying that documentation can be filed retroactively.

Toms River Schools Superintendent Frank Roselli says that discussions are underway with FEMA to relocate displaced families still huddled in the Pine Belt Arena and Toms River High School East. He plans to resume classes Monday, and is working logistics if electricity isn’t restored by then at Silver Bay Elementary.

Toms River residents still in need of clothes, food and water can find supplies at Toms River Little League East on Windsor Avenue. Supplies are being handed out at Silver Bay and East Dover Elementary Schools Wednesday through Friday, 10 AM until 2 PM.

Profiteers descend on beleaguered Belmar at their own risk. Mayor Matt Doherty says that in addition to generous donations from around the world aimed at helping the borough rebuild, hucksters are sprouting up with critical needs at outrageous prices. Doherty today reaffirmed that anyone found price-gouging will be prosecuted.

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