Atlantic County officials still making assessments on barrier islands
Officials still hadn’t decided Tuesday afternoon whether to allow access to the barrier islands, and Atlantic County police were cracking down on the number of people on the roadways as they continued to assess the damage Tuesday from Hurricane Sandy.
Atlantic County began issuing tickets to motorists who violated the travel ban placed on roads to anyone who was not providing an essential service to the public. Atlantic County Information Officer Linda Gilmore said crews have been trying to repair wires and clear debris.
Towns on the barrier islands had a difficult time dealing with all the flooding, but officials are looking forward to the storm being behind them and the recovery.
Brigantine had a tense night as the fire department rescued 100 people from areas of the north end after the seawall was breached in two places, Mayor Phil Guenther said.
“This was in the north end and golf course area,” Guenther said. “People had to be removed from their homes by high water vehicles and boats.”
“Firefighters were out in 40 mph winds in small boats, 10- to 11-foot boats, to rescue folks who chose to stay,” Police Lt. Jim Bennett said.
In addition, Guenther said, there were two structure fires and a roof collapse.
There was 2 to 3 feet of sand in roads near the seawall, Bennett said.
“Both ends of the seawall were breached completely by the ocean,” Bennett said. “But the seawall held. Structurally, it’s fine. We’ve lost railings and sheeting, but it (held up).”
The 100 rescues joined about 70 others at the last resort shelter at the community center, which Guenther said was still open.
There was still debris in roads, Guenther said, a travel ban was still in effect and it was unclear when people would be allowed back. Guenther and Bennett both estimated that could happen on Wednesday, but added that assessments were still being made.
In Margate, Mayor Mike Becker said the city seemed to have survived the worst of the impact.
“We’re OK,” Becker said. “We were very lucky. We have a lot of cleaning up to do, a lot of trees down, but as far as I know, no personal injuries.”
The pumping stations that were threatened by Monday morning’s high tide appear to have been unaffected, he said.
Debris had to be cleared from across the city, especially the west end. Just as the rest of the island, the power was out and Becker did not know when it would be restored, or when residents and others would be allowed back onto the island.
Residents being sheltered at the last resort shelter at the Jewish Community Center were being taken to another shelter in Buena.
“Other than that, we’re very lucky we got through this one safely,” he said.
Ventnor Emergency management Coordinator Bill Melfi did not provide an update Tuesday.
Away from the islands, the damage was a lot less severe, but local towns still had issues to work through Tuesday — especially power outages.
Galloway officials said they endured more damage than previous storms, as the eastern part of the township was without power.
Police Chief Patrick Moran said there was a lot of flooding and some downed trees and power lines.
Resident Kevin Dougherty was at home with his family about 5 p.m. last night when a large tree, about 40 feet tall, fell onto his two-story house.
“We heard a bang, and the house shook a bit,” he said.
The family still had power for a few more hours, and Dougherty, 59, is working to cut off some of the tree. One branch pierced through the roof, and it’s leaking, he said.
Bob James, police chief for Linwood and Northfield, said there was some flooding in areas east of Shore Road and near the bay. There were high water levels and flooding in garages and first floors of homes, but nothing unexpected, he said.
The biggest issue in the towns are the pockets of residents without power and the downed power lines. James asked residents to be careful with the power lines, because they could have electricity in them.
Northfield asked its residents to conserve water Tuesday, stating the Atlantic City Waste Water Treatment facility was nearing capacity.
Absecon Emergency Management Coordinator Jim Eberwine said a few homes flooded, but no major structural damage had been reported.
Buena Vista Mayor Peter Bylone said only minor damage was initially reported in the township, but staff will be out today to examine the township.
“It seems it was not as bad as they predicted,” he said. “You have to be prepared for the worst and hope for the best.”
Hamilton Township has had some of the worst damages from the recent storms, but this time officials said they made out very well comparatively.
“We were clobbered then, but we came out pretty well this time,” Councilwoman Aline Dix said.
During Tropical Storm Irene in August 2011 parts of the township had severe flooding for several days and many were fearful the Lake Lenape dam would burst because of the volume of water.
During the June 30 derecho, the township endured several downed trees, and many residents were without power for nearly a week.
But Mayor Roger Silva said so far they have received reports of only a few fallen trees and light to moderate flooding.
At Gaskill Point the Great Egg Harbor River’s water level rose above the bulkhead and covered Old Harding Highway. State crews were out this morning to remove debris and push it off to the side, Silva said.
Flooding was reported on River Road and the Lenape shopping complex on Route 50, but otherwise the situation was manageable, he said.
The eye of the storm passed through the township, so there was much less rain than expected, he said. The township lowered the water level at the dam last week and there were no issues, he said.
Township residents Leo Rudolph and Ken Frost went out Tuesday morning to look around and marveled at the lack of damage. They said they hadn’t seen a downed tree and stood in dry intersections usually flooded from a normal heavy rainfall.
“We were very surprised,” Frost said.
Frost lost power for six days back in June and after that bought a generator, so he was ready for this storm but he never lost power.
Rudolph said he evacuated during Irene, but this time the large size of Sandy made him think he should stay home.
“It was too big. There was no place to evacuate to,” he said. “You’d have to go to Florida — or Mexico.”
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