Damage less than expected in Cumberland County, but some bayfront properties affected
Cumberland County officials said while damage assessments found less destruction than originally anticipated from Sandy, some properties did not escape the wrath of the storm.
Most of the property damage occurred in Maurice River, Downe and Lawrence townships, all of which are located along or near the Delaware Bay, Cumberland County spokesman Troy Ferus said.
At least a dozen homes along the Delaware Bay are a “total loss,” Ferus said.
Some of the homes damaged were in the Bay Point section of Lawrence Township, Ferus said. Authorities said about eight homes there were destroyed.
Residents in the Delaware Bay community of Fortescue in Downe Township reported significant damage to some homes there. The extent of the damage was not immediately available.
Authorities stationed at a roadblock to an access route to two other Delaware Bay communities — Gandys Beach and Money Island in Downe Township — reported that floodwaters washed away part of a protective seawall in Gandys Beach.
“Our heart goes out to those who lost their homes here in Cumberland County and to those in neighboring counties,” Cumberland County Freeholder Director Carl Kirstein said in a statement.
Cumberland County’s Delaware Bay communities have few year-round residents. Most of those residents evacuated before the storm struck.
Access to some of the Delaware Bay communities, most of which are reached by low-lying, two-lane roads, continued to be a problem Wednesday.
Money Island was “inaccessible due to flooding,” Ferus said. The access route to Gandys Beach was open, but Cove Road, the community’s only street, was closed, he said.
Authorities were also letting some residents get to their properties in the Bivalve section of Commercial Township during low tides. Those residents had to leave before high tides returned.
There were no damage estimates yet, county officials said.
Officials said most of the county faired well through the storm. Post-storm operations are primarily involving local governments and residents cleaning up leaves, branches and a few trees blown by the storm.
In Vineland, Mayor Robert Romano said Public Works trucks have been using snow plows to push wet leaves out of street and clear storm drains.
Driving restrictions in most of the county were lifted by Wednesday, Ferus said. Some driving restrictions were still in place in Maurice River, Downe and Lawrence townships, he said.
Ferus reported Wednesday that all three of the county’s shelters — which opened at Cumberland County College in Vineland, the Buckshutem Road School in Vineland and the Cumberland County Technical Education Center in Deerfield Township — were closed.
County officials estimated that slightly more than 200 people sought shelter at those facilities. The three centers were set up to accommodate at least 650 people.
Cumberland County Department of Health officials have already asked residents to take food-handling and other public-health measures.
Of particular concern are areas where flooding may have caused problems with private septic systems, they said. Homes in many rural sections of Cumberland County use those systems and also have private wells.
County officials are urging residents to throw away any food that came in contact with potentially contaminated floodwaters. Residents also should not use that water for things such as making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes or preparing food.
County health officials are now warning residents to take precaution in cleaning up flooded homes and businesses.
Residents should wear protective clothing, such are rubber gloves, during that process to protect themselves from contaminated water, health officials said. Hands should be washed often with soap and water.
Residents should strongly consider throwing out furniture, clothing and other materials that cannot be cleaned and dried, health officials said.
Meanwhile, most of Cumberland County is returning to its daily routine. Children are back in school, shops are open and local and county government buildings are again accessible to the public.
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