Hurricane sandy downbeach checkpoints

Longport police manning a checkpoint at the borough's border with Margate


Officials, residents and business owners in Margate are getting extremely frustrated with the state's delay in allowing access to the city.

"Yesterday, we gave the go-ahead to prepare and return," said Mayor Mike Becker. "We waited for the governor to OK. He did not. We're still ready."

Power is back at 5 of 8 feeder lines, and crews were working on two more.

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The city sent a fax this morning to the county, Becker said, saying that the city is prepared.

"In exchange for allowing all residents back, we will secure our border with Ventnor and not allow access through at Ventnor Avenue. We'll allow access on Atlantic Avenue with police supervision.

"We'll secure the Longport border at Coolidge Avenue. We'll secure access to the Margate Bridge. All resident, business owners and contractors will require proper identification."

The fax was sent, Becker said, "and now we're waiting. We're all frustrated and disappointed that the governor is not releasing the ban."

Added Becker, who has been getting messages for days asking about people's properties, "what do I tell someone who owns a house here and wants to know what's going on? I got a text from a friend who's been in a hotel for 4 days and can't afford to stay anymore. What do I tell him? We've offered to barricade the city to get our people in here."

At Johnny's Cafe on Ventnor Avenue, owner John Liccio was getting angry at the delay.

"If everything goes well and they open the bridge and actually get people in here, like mechanics and plumbers and electricians?", he said. "That's the problem. We're doing everything ouurselves. We can't get anybody over the bridge. If the bridge opens, I could be open Saturday night."

Joe Nigro, looking at the damage to bayside piers, said they wouldn't let his daughter Samantha into town even though she's in the National Guard.

Further up Amherst, Tomatoe's owner Karen Sherman said her restaurant got 5 feet of water.

"Its pretty much destroyed," Sherman said. "We're working hard, get open or die trying. ... It would be so helpful if they just let people in. We can't get anything done. It just gets worse by the hour."

Longport, which had let cars as far south as the fire station on Wednesday, now had a roadblock set up at the Margate border and was not letting most people in.

Police on small, four-wheel-drive vehicles also patrolled the beach, stopping people from walking south along the shore.

Former Mayor George Baumgartner said that the dune that they carefully built behind their home for the past 18 years is what saved their house - despite a few close calls from large pilings that almost made it over the bulkhead and lay strewn across the dunes.

"Whenever anybody tells you dunes aren't valuable, this'll disprove that," he said.

In Ventnor, Mayor Mike Bagnell said the sewer system is not pumping at an adequate capacity to move sewage through - and until that happens, no one may be getting onto the island anywhere.

"It's starting to be lowered slightly, but it's not enough," Bagnell said. "We will not be letting people back into the city until it's corrected. We cannot be having people using their toilets, because if they do, human waste is going to get into the streets.

A barricade had already been already set up Wednesday at the Atlantic City border, and one would be going up at the Margate border as well.

"Even if everyone else opens up, we will not be allowing people back into the city until it's safe," he said.

And from what Bagnell understood about the state's policy, "If one city doesn't open, no one (city) on the island is open."

"I would hope (Gov. Christie) sticks to that," Bagnell said. "We can't have someone be coming back into the city. We'd really like everybody here to leave until this is resolved."

Drinking water is safe, and 75 percent of the city has power.

But, Bagnell added, "Throughout the storm, we've had people calling asking to be evacuated. These are people who chose to stay. ... They want to get out. They see the gravity of the situation right now. What (other people) want to come in and see is what the people experiencing want to get away from."

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