State Sen. Jeff Van Drew said Wednesday that federal, state, county and municipal officials will on Thursday tour five Cumberland County communities along Delaware Bay that were damaged by Hurricane Sandy.

The tour — which starts at 11:15 a.m. at the Maurice River Township municipal building — is specifically designed to give the federal and state representatives a first-hand look at the damage caused in Maurice River, Commercial, Downe, Lawrence and Greenwich townships, he said.

“While the (Atlantic Ocean) shore towns were hit extremely hard by Hurricane Sandy, a number of areas in … Cumberland County also suffered extensive damage,” Van Drew, D-Cape May, Cumberland, Atlantic, said in a statement. “Most of these towns already faced serious issues prior to the hurricane with flooding, erosion and salt water intrusion.

“This tour is an opportunity for state and federal officials to see the damage. It will also help to get local officials in touch with the appropriate agencies on the state and federal level and on their way to recover.”

Some of those officials who Van Drew said are scheduled to attend include representatives from the Governor’s Office, the state departments of transportation and environmental protection, and state and federal economic development agencies.

This is not the first time officials from several levels of government have toured the damage Hurricane Sandy caused along the Delaware Bay shorefront in Cumberland County. U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo led one inspection of the area in November.

Hurricane Sandy left parts of the county’s Delaware Bay communities in shambles.

At least 20 homes were destroyed by waves and floodwaters, while some buildings just fell into the bay. Protective steel bulkheads were also destroyed, and tons of sand covered roadways in and around the area.

Officials in Downe Township estimated the municipality incurred about $30 million in damage. The bulk of that destruction occurred in its Delaware Bay communities of Fortescue, Gandys Beach and Money Island.

Downe Township officials said the damage could be financially devastating, as those three small communities provide half of the municipality’s tax ratables.

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