Owners of Ship Bottom and Beach Haven businesses are being allowed to return to check on their properties, and Long Beach Township residents may be allowed back this week to check on their properties in limited numbers.
Ship Bottom Mayor William Huelsenbeck announced Saturday morning during a news conference that restaurant owners were allowed to return to the borough to remove food and debris from the businesses and secure buildings.
The rest of the commercial businesses in Ship Bottom will be permitted to do the same from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. today. A return day for homeowners in the borough has not been decided, he said.
The Beach Haven Office of Emergency Management announced Saturday night that it would allow business owners with perishable food access to their businesses between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. today. Public Works will collect items that are being thrown out.
Beach Haven business owners are asked to meet at 9 a.m. the former Pathmark store on Route 72 in Stafford Township, from which they will be escorted onto Long Beach Island by police.
Meanwhile, the Long Beach Township Board of Commissioners said they are still in recovery mode. Work to clean sand and debris from main roads continues, including on Long Beach Boulevard and Route 72. Until sand is moved from roadways back on to the beach, it is not safe for people to drive, they said.
Police said Saturday night that emergency management workers have searched the township and there are no known injuries or deaths due to Hurricane Sandy.
Officials said in a statement that they are going to try to allow township residents to return for two-hour periods on specific days for specific areas. The notice from the township stated that homeowners in certain sections, including Brant Beach, may be allowed back from 9 a.m. to noon Wednesday to pick up vital items such as checkbooks, medication and insurance policies, after which they must leave. Officials said this is a tentative schedule and an update will be published on the township website today or Monday.
Long Beach Township Mayor Joseph Mancini said re-entry could be further delayed this week due to an impending storm forecast for Tuesday or Wednesday.
Mancini stressed that residents who remained on the island are there at their own risk, are not permitted to drive on the island, and if they leave the island they will not be permitted to return.
Power is being restored across the island. Long Beach Township police said Saturday night that about 70 percent of island had electricity, but Huelsenbeck said that within minutes of electricity coming on Friday, there was a structure fire on 16th Street.
Although gas has been shut off to the island, Huelsenbeck said, New Jersey Natural Gas was initially reluctant to do it because it could take six months to turn it back on.
“They (New Jersey Natural Gas) are unresponsive as to a timeline of when the gas will be turned back on. After (Hurricane) Katrina, it took 10 months to get gas back on,” he said.
Beach Haven Mayor Chuck Maschal said Saturday that his borough was hit the hardest of the six municipalities on LBI. The ocean breached dunes on about 10 of the borough’s 32 blocks.
“We have flooding and damage to 40 percent of our oceanfront homes,” Maschal said.
Beach Haven has temporarily moved Borough Hall operations to the Stafford Township Municipal Building on the mainland because of severe flooding inside the hall. Borough officials could be displaced for four to six weeks, he said.
Surf City Councilman Peter Hartney said Atlantic City Electric has restored power to the borough. Harvey Cedars Mayor Jonathan Oldham said his borough is in the process of restoring power but has concerns about potential fires starting.
In Ship Bottom, Jackie Braddock rode out Hurricane Sandy upstairs from her Long Beach Boulevard restaurant, Ravioli and More, as well as her laundromat.
On Saturday, she finally saw the damage inside the two businesses.
Inside the tiny restaurant Braddock has operated for 12 years, smashed glass mixed with mud and water. The force of the water that rushed inside knocked over all of the cooler cases in the dining room.
“I just thank God they let us come in here today,” Braddock said.
Braddock, of Beach Haven, stayed in an apartment above her businesses during the storm.
“The wind wasn’t so bad. We just watched the water come up, come up, come up. If there was wind, we would have been done,” she said. “The worst part of the storm was the highest surge that came around midnight. It was so dark, and we couldn’t see anything. We watched the water climb up the apartment stairs, and we said if it keeps coming we were going to have to climb in the crawl space,” she said.
In the restaurant’s kitchen, Braddock opened a small refrigerator, and water poured out onto the floor.
“We just bought this one,” she said and shook her head.
The tidal surge ripped the kitchen’s sink off the wall, and all of the restaurant’s equipment was upside down.
Outside the restaurant, Braddock ran her finger against the front window at the water line that was about five feet high from the sidewalk.
Next door, at the laundromat, every washer and dryer floated high enough to smash into the walls after water rushed inside, she said.
The Long Beach Island Joint Emergency Operations Center for Hurricane Sandy is asking homeowners not to call for property status or checks. Officials are asking the public not to call police for anything other than a true medical or safety emergency.
Long Beach Island residents who wish to vote Tuesday can go to the Southern Ocean County Resource Center, 179 S. Main St. in Stafford to get ballots. Call 609-597-1500 for voting questions.
Officials will hold another news conference with updates at 11 a.m. Sunday.
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