Kate McPherson said she did not leave Beach Haven under the orders of a mandatory evacuation because it is her home and you do not leave your home.
McPherson, her husband, Glenn, and daughter Christine rode out the storm in their Bay Avenue home that is adjacent to three commercial properties the family owns. All three businesses were destroyed, Kate McPherson said.
McPherson said she has rode out storms before, but this one was different—the winds were stronger than she could ever remember and the flooding brought about 7 feet of water on their first floor.
But if she had to do it all over again, she would stay, and the family is still not leaving even though without heat it’s getting cold, she said.
“I can’t even put it into words what it looks like over here. It’s completely devastated,” she said Wednesday.
Inside the McPhersons’ storefronts on Bay Avenue in the heart of Beach Haven, water flooded one foot below the ceiling, she said.
She said they have ventured out to assess the damage and the destruction is indescribable.
“There are boats all over the place over here. At Morrison’s Marina, it looks like someone took a bunch of toy boats and put them in a pile over there. The trailer park in Holgate looks like dominoes on top of each other,” she said.
The back roads in Beach Haven and surrounding areas still have about 2 feet of sand on top of them.
The Holgate section, which is situated south of Beach Haven, has been blocked off with heavy equipment and signs with no access for the public, she said.
“We tried to go down there, but once you get to Berkeley Avenue, the scent of gasoline is so strong you don’t want to risk it and go any further,” she said.
She said the post storm conditions on Long Beach Island should be a wakeup call for oceanfront homeowners who have refused to sign easements across the island for beach replenishment projects.
Regardless, McPherson said Beach Haven, dubbed the Queen City, will be back.
“We will rebound, we always do. We may be down, but we’re not out,” she said.
Stafford Township Police Lt. Thomas Dellane said 396 people were evacuated to Southern Regional High School’s Red Cross Shelter. There are only about 80 people left at the shelter and Long Beach Island residents were transported to other locations in Burlington County.
Cleanup and search and rescue operations continue in sections of Stafford Township, including Beach Haven West. Sections of Stafford Township remain closed because of storm damage, including flooding and debris. Police issued a news release that stated all of Cedar Bonnet Island, Mud City, Mallard Island and the following areas of Beach Haven West are only open to safety personnel: all areas of Mill Creek Road east of Charles Boulevard, all areas south and east of Marsha Drive and all areas south of Morris Boulevard.
Gas, electric, fire and building inspectors along with police are assessing the safety of the areas, the news release said.
As soon as streets are considered safe for re-entry to owners, the information will be posted on the Stafford Township Website at www.StaffordNJ.gov.
On Long Beach Island, natural gas leaks are a dangerous situation in already dangerous conditions, said Long Beach Township Police Chief Michael Bradley.
Bradley said officials are working with the utilities to address the leaks that are affecting some of the township’s 9,200 homes.
“Some areas you drive through it smells like natural gas. In Holgate, we have identified large gas leaks in some of the structures from homes being moved on their foundations and erosion,” Bradley said.
“We’ve challenged New Jersey Natural Gas and Atlantic City Electric to develop a plan that will be timely and effective. This is one of the big hurdles that faces us,” Bradley said.
He said the municipalities on the island are working together to ask for help and services from different agencies and utilities.
“The one goal we have in mind is to restore our community to what it was in as timely a manner as possible,” Bradley said.
A boil-water advisory has been issued by the Stafford Township Water & Sewer Utility Department for all residents of the Cedar Bonnet Island section.
The advisory ask all residents to boil all water prior to consumption or personal use because low water pressure may have resulted in salt water intrusion, the release said.
Water quality testing is ongoing and once the advisory is lifted residents will be notified.
Township Emergency Management personnel will complete route alerting in Cedar Bonnet Island to notify residents of the advisory who do not have electricity.
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