Ortley Beach A&P Reopen After Sandy
In the days after Sandy, the Ortley Beach A&P served as a staging ground for police, fire, and EMS as well as a stark reminder of the damage to the barrier islands; but nearly five months since the storm hit the supermarket is reopening its doors once more.
The store is one of the first buildings seen when crossing over the bridge to the barrier islands, and was main shopping hub in the community.
"What you want to see is not an empty parking lot filled with debris, you want to see cars and people pushing a shopping cart knowing they're going to their home or summer home." Says Toms River council member John Sevastakis, one of the members who attended the event.
The Lieutenant Governor was also in attendance, and acknowledged that while Ortley Beach was one of the harder hit areas, the store's reopening is significant in beginning a new chapter for the area.
"This summer, people that come to visit now are going to drive down the streets of Ortley Beach, take a stop at the A&P, and say 'this is the message for next year.'" Adding, with time "not only will the A&P be open but all of the buildings you see behind you right now, people will be back and the beaches will be open."
The plaza acted as a hub for first responders in the immediate time after the storm, A&P COO Paul Hertz notes both the Toms River Police Department and the Salvation Army were given facilities within the newly renovated plaza to maintain a presence throughout the summer.
"To kind of create the notion that it's a command center because there is still a lot of recovery to be done." Says Hertz, adding "we're still in a rebuilding phase but we think we are a big piece of the rebuilding. Now that we have the grocery store back, one of the staple areas where people gather and is important to them as they come down to clean."
He notes the facility suffered major damage when flooding from Sandy ruined wiring, refrigeration units, gondolas, fixtures, and drywall. The supermarket was completely renovated and Hertz says all 65 employees who were employed before the storm are back working at their original location.
During the summer the supermarket employees roughly 200 employees, Hertz is hopeful they can return to that this summer.