LONG BEACH TOWNSHIP — Mayor Joseph Mancini said he hopes by Wednesday to reopen the northern end of Holgate that was ravaged when Hurricane Sandy pummeled the shore.

Sand had been cleared from the streets by Sunday when homeowners returned for the second time since the storm. In the days after the storm, sand was piled on the streets like mountains, and crews worked feverishly over the last few weeks to clean up the area. The area continues to not have electricity, water or gas service.

The section starting at Osborn Avenue, extending about seven blocks south could be reopened by Wednesday, if utility work on electricity service is successful, Mancini said.

“We want to be safe as the electricity is coming back on, and we need to get the water on, too, so the people can get back,” he said.

Gas in the Holgate area is not expected to be restored for at least another 10 days, he said.

Sunday, New Jersey Natural Gas released an update about gas service on the island. In the Holgate section, 95 percent of additional field assessments of both mains and services have been completed, and 24 services have been retired.

Work continued Sunday on restoring service to the eighth section of the island’s gas main on Long Beach Island, from 86th Street to 128th Street.

The utility expects to continue to move south Monday to the ninth section of the gas main, from 129th Street to Marine Street. Natural gas is now available to 6,175 meters on the island.

A steady stream of homeowners flowed to Holgate Saturday and Sunday to continue cleanup and damage assessment at their homes. The area has been closed except for two brief returns by residents, including this weekend.

Bill and Ellen Kehr were assessing damage with insurance adjustors Sunday afternoon at their home on West Harding Avenue. The couple evacuated the Sunday before the storm, but came back to find 3 feet of water had been in their year-round home and 5 feet in their detached garage.

The home’s second floor escaped damage, Bill Kehr said.

“I prepared myself for a little water in the house, but when we saw what happened here, it was overwhelming,” said Ellen Kehr, who bought the home with her husband in 2009.

The water was so deep in the back yard that heavy, log-piling pieces floated onto the couple’s back porch. A water line could be seen on the back door’s window.

Almost everything from inside the couple’s home was placed at the curb, a mountain shaped debris, including the kitchen sink. Bill Kehr said when he pulled into the driveway after the storm, the garage door was open and the contents had been pushed outside.

“So much for my homemade sandbags. We thought that they would work,” he said as he picked grocery bags he had filled with sand before the storm and placed in front of the garage door.

The couple said they were glad to be back this weekend to clean up their home, but they hoped they would be able to come back permanently.

“I am frustrated, because we want to get going down here. We would be here every day if we could, but when you see it and it’s like war zone, we understand,” Ellen Kehr said.

One house up the street, Vanessa Van Orden was cleaning out her father Albert’s home. She expressed frustration for not being able to come to the home regularly since the storm.

“My father can’t take this. He wouldn’t be able to handle it,” Van Orden said of the home that had over 4 feet of water in the lower level.

A pile of debris almost identical to those of the neighboring houses, continued to grow as volunteers cleaned out the home Sunday afternoon. Some people had sand inside their homes, delivered by the storm, but the inside of the Van Orden home was filled with mud, she said.

“We just want to get in here to save our homes now. They keep telling us it isn’t safe, but I think it’s safe now. Every day they keep saying the island is open except Holgate, and it’s frustrating. We just want to know why. Just tell us what’s going on,” Van Orden said.

The township is working with Ashbritt Environmental to remove debris at curbs.

Ashbritt’s plan is to remove all debris from the Acme grocery store parking lot Monday and then start to remove debris from the streets Tuesday.

The Long Beach Island Joint Emergency Operations Center is asking residents to place debris at the curb and off of the street, and to separate hazardous materials, electronics, tires, engines, metals and recyclables. Residents are asked to keep regular household garbage in trash cans, separate from bulk trash.

Contact Donna Weaver:

609-226-9198

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