Residents of South Seaside Park might be able to return to their homes by Christmas if everything goes smoothly, Berkeley Township Mayor Carmen Amato told the Township Council on Tuesday night.
Work to restore utility service to the South Seaside Park section of the barrier island -- among the least damaged parts of the peninsula that runs from Island Beach State Park all the way north to Point Pleasant Beach -- has been moving quickly.
Of the 800 meters that were removed from homes in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, half of them have been ordered to be reinstalled, after inspections were completed ensuring the safety of re-energizing those homes, Amato said.
The remainder of the meters that were removed are expected to be reinstalled by the end of this week, Amato said, which then will allow JCP&L to restore power to that area.
New Jersey Natural Gas has said that work to repair the main pipe that was exposed and seriously damaged when Sandy opened an inlet in Mantoloking is about 65 percent complete, Amato said. Work to examine the pipes carrying natural gas from the main to homes is moving along as well, he said, with NJNG capping lines where homes are so damaged or missing that they are unlikely to be restored.
The gas company said gas service could be restored by the end of December, Amato said, and the mayor hoped it could be done sooner.
Once electricity and gas service are able to be restored, the township will ask Gov. Chris Christie to lift the mandatory evacuation order for South Seaside Park so those residents are able to return to their homes.
"We hope it will be an early Christmas present for those families," Amato said.