Plan to Allow Barrier Island Residents to Retrieve Essential Items In Works
Severe damage to infrastructure makes conditions dangerous, police chief says
UPDATE, 6:20 p.m. Sunday: The Berkeley Township Police Department posted the following on its Facebook page: "The Berkeley Township Office of Emergency Management had hoped to allow residents of the South Seaside Park and Pelican Island section to return temporarily to their homes to gather personal belongings. As of this time we are awaiting permission from the State Police. Further informaton will be posted."
Previously: Residents who were forced to evacaute from the South Seaside Park section of Berkeley clamored for information on Saturday about when they will be allowed to return to their homes at an emergency meeting of the Township Council.
"We need medications, documents and personal items," Jerry Riccio of 21st Avenue said. "We have to assess the damage to our homes."
But Berkeley Police Chief Karin DiMichele said access to the island will continue to be restricted, due to continuing issues with the road infrastructure on the barrier island. DiMichele, who with Township Mayor Carmen Amato attended a meeting with the police chiefs of other towns on the barrier island, said she understands the concerns of residents who cannot see what has happened to their homes.
After the meeting she announced on the township police department's Facebook page: "A plan to temporarily allow Berkeley residents to return to their homes in South Seaside Park in order to retrieve essential items is currently being formulated."
That plan also includes Pelican Island, it was noted in response to questions posted on the page.
During the council meeting, DiMichele said she understands the concerns of residents who have homes in Pelican Island and South Seaside Park, but the dangers of the situation are significant, she said.
"Route 35 north is gone," she said, and houses are falling into the streets. Because they were forced to completely shut off the natural gas to the island, the gas infrastructure has been destroyed, she said.
"It's going to be months before anyone can live over there again," she said.
DiMichele said details on how residents will be permitted to retrieve items, "when and if it is safe to do so," will be posted on the police department's Facebook page and announced on WOBM-FM 92.7.
IF and WHEN it is safe to do this, the Berkeley Township Office of Emergency Management will announce the specific details. At this time we ask all residents to check this site and listen to 92.7 WOBM for details. Thank you for your patience as we continue to assess the situation.