Residents of South Seaside Park need to be prepared to be out of their homes at least four to six months, Berkeley officials said on Tuesday evening.
"I was in a room today with the attorney general and the colonel of the state police and none of them could answer that question," Berkeley Township Police Chief Karin DiMichele said to Dave Haldane of Roberts Avenue. Haldane had come to the Berkeley Township Council meeting to get some guidance on how long he should plan to rent a place to live while he is unable to live in his home.
"Figure on at least four to six months," DiMichele said. "It's going to take at least that long."
In the first few days after Hurricane Sandy tore through the Jersey Shore, estimates were given that the barrier island from Bay Head to Island Beach State Park would be out of commission for six to eight months because of damage to the natural gas piping. Officials from New Jersey Natural Gas denied those reports, saying it was too soon to tell.
On Tuesday night, Mayor Carmen Amato said officials from the gas company said the gas main that feeds the entire barrier island suffered major damage. (At the Seaside Heights Borough Council meeting on Wednesday, Mayor William Akers said the 12-inch main ruptured where Sandy broke through the island near the Mantoloking bridge.)
"The gas main is above the ground now" in Mantoloking, Amato said, due to erosion caused by the storm.
In addition, there is significant work to be done to the electrical infrastructure, said Berkeley Sgt. George Dohn, of the township's assistant emergency management coordinators.
"The salt water has rusted all the bolts" on the utility poles, Dohn said, and the township hopes to get JCP&L to replace those as well.
"The work is extensive," DiMichele said.