Seaside Park Residents Angry Over New Re-entry Plan

'We've taken a step backward,' one man says

Seaside Park residents who were unable to participate on Monday when the borough allowed residents to drive in to retrieve possessions will have their opportunity to do so starting today.

Notified by the borough's reverse 911 system, residents were told they will be bused into the borough in shifts beginning this morning, based on where in town they live.

That angered many of the more than 300 residents who packed the Borough Council meeting held in the Toms River Municipal Building on Thursday night, a meeting that ran for nearly four hours as residents aired their frustrations and concerns over the limited access.

Under the plan announced by the borough late Thursday, which Police Chief Francis Larkin said is Phase 1 of re-entry to the island, Seaside Park residents, like those other towns, will be limited in how much time they have in the residence and how much they can bring out.

The borough's website notes residents will be limited to what they can carry on their laps, but at the meeting Larkin said the borough is trying to obtain permission to use a box truck, similar to the way Seaside Heights is doing to help residents remove possessions. Entry will be limited to two people per residence, one of whom must be the resident or homeowner.

The buses will depart from and return to the parking lot at Shelter Cove, on Bay Avenue about a mile east of Fischer Boulevard. Registration begins at 9 a.m., though at the meeting Larkin said borough personnel will be on hand beginning at 8 a.m. The first bus is to depart by 10 a.m., Larkin said. Residents going at 10 a.m. will have until noon, at which time they will have to board the buses and return so a second set of residents can access the island. The second buses depart Shelter Cove at noon and return to the borough at 2 p.m.

The access schedule is as follows:

  • Today: Homes located J Street south to 14thAvenue
  • Saturday: Homes located north of J Street and west of Rt. 35
  • Sunday: Homes located north of J Street and east of Rt. 35

The Seaside Park website notes that some homes have been deemed unsafe for entry. Residents of those homes will be only be allowed a visual inspection of their homes.

The entire plan had to be approved by Gov. Chris Christie's office, Larkin said. And it is Christie's office that reminded the borough that the state of emergency and the evacuation orders -- which say no one but emergency personnel can be on the barrier island -- are still in force, Larkin said.

Those details infuriated residents, many of whom were unable to go to their homes during Monday's trip to the borough.

"This is ridiculous," said Richard DiPietro, who said he was involved in the efforts to clean up in New York City after 9-11. "They're taking this the wrong direction."

"They're going to supervise me going into my house?" Al McDuffie said. "And then they're going to bus me back?"

"By doing this, I hope the governor knows that next time, we won't leave," said Gertrude Martinique. "If government would just get out of my way and let me do what I need to do, I could start moving forward."

"What we have here is a bureaucracy justifying their existence," said Mike Juliano of L Street. "As far as I'm concerned we should be taking care of ourselves."

Tempers flared frequently during the early part of the meeting, forcing Mayor Robert Matthies to several times bang the gavel to get people to quiet down. 

"I understand your frustration," Matthies said. "We're frustrated too. We, too, are displaced."

Residents expressed concerns that the two hours allotted are inadequate to turn off the water and drain pipes. Borough engineer Felipe Contreras said the town is already taking steps to help with that issue, in shutting off water curbside to homes and removing water meters, allowing much of the water to drain from the homes' pipes.

That doesn't address water in radiant heating systems or in toilets or water heaters, several residents said.

But the primary thing residents asked, time and again, was why the process the borough and Berkeley Township had used on Monday -- issuing permits that allowed residents to take their own cars and remove as much as possible -- was no longer permissible, and when they would be able to return to their homes for good.

"Many of us are at the point of having to make some decisions about where we are going to live," said Ann Bryant of K Street. "We need to know when we will be able to get home."

Matthies said the two biggest factors in a return to the island were when JCP&L and New Jersey Natural Gas complete the repairs they need to do. He said neither utility company will give any timeline for that process, however.

"When we ask them, they say they're still assessing the damage," Matthies said.

Larkin acknowledged that the streets in Seaside Park are in good shape, and that the borough suffered far less damage than other towns. But the governor's office was dictating the rules and restrictions right now, he said.

"If it was up to the mayor, council and police department, we would put you on our backs and run you across the bridge," one Seaside Park detective said.

"I'm just as frustrated as everybody else," Larkin said, "but this is all they're giving me."

Mattie November 09, 2012 at 06:30 PM
I'm no troll, sir. I am merely disappointed in so many people who will not realize that sometimes they have to wait and do things according to an organized effort - not willy nilly just because THEY want to do things their way. While not *every* home on the island is completely destroyed, MANY of them are. While not *every* road may be impassable, MANY of them are. While not *every* house on the islands is structurally dangerous, MANY of them are.... There are no traffic lights or street lights or electricity anywhere on the island. What happens when people decide they don't want to be done and out of there before dark? Who will help them if something happens to them? Do you honestly believe local politicians and government are putting these time and access restrictions on people just for ..... FUN? For no real reason at all? Why would they do that? Come on... Think.
Mattie November 09, 2012 at 06:42 PM
Last I looked Florida isn't a half-mile wide island, now is it? It's been well established and agreed upon that this area has never seen a storm/devastation like this - EVER. So now explain to me why your snarky comment is relevant?
Chuck Lada November 09, 2012 at 06:52 PM
Mattie, I am not angry that I have to wait. I am angry that some politician who never read what the constitution says about property and liberty, can deny me access to my house for over 11 days with a very dubious safety argument. People are driving arounfd all over NJ dispite traffic lights that are out. your list of reasons is ridiculous and if you are not a mouthpiece of the politicins than you are not a very bright person. It's interesting that your response backed down from your previous comment that the island was destroyed. Please don't waste your time replying until you spend 20 miutes reviewing the satilite photos. They contridict all of the BS safety issues our poiticians keep repeating. As to why the restrictions are in place follow the money! As long as they can say we are in a "state of emergency" they can write no-bid contracts to all their cronies and let FEMA pick up the tab. My o my you are very naieve
Mattie November 09, 2012 at 07:00 PM
Obviously you can't just disagree without denigrating someone personally. I guarantee, Chuck, I am probably at least 35 IQ points smarter than you. I promise. But it's also obvious your issues are about 'trusting government' and 'trusting politicians'.... a real conspiracy-around-every-corner kinda nut. OK. You are seriously off the deep end into Teabag territory. I get it. But hey, Go! Storm the bridge. Bust your way onto the island to get to your house... I really don't care. No skin off my nose, as the saying goes. Good Luck. Just don't call for help from anyone if something happens.
Chuck Lada November 09, 2012 at 07:29 PM
My IQ is in the top 2%. If you can prove your IQ is 35 points higher, I will send you a $100 dollar gift certicate to a resturant of your choice. I am not a conspiracy theorist, I am a businessman with 30 years experience with the Ocean County Government. If you don't believe how money is corrupting our government than your IQ must be 35 points lower than mine. By the way nothing to hide, my name is my real name.
Nancy November 09, 2012 at 07:35 PM
Mattie, Give me a break and get over the idea of storming the damn bridge...we will be there in force to convince whom ever to drop the restriction placed earlier. What'is good for safe areas Lavalette is good for safe areas of Ortley. I have seen videos of many people walking and driving in areas that are far worse than areas between routes 35 north and south We appreciate all that is being done for us. We're not asking for for a "free for all" but a controlled entry with the other towns. Stop trying to make it that we are unreasonable and selfish.
Mattie November 09, 2012 at 07:52 PM
138. Tested more than a few times over many years; Believe it or not. But I know you won't believe it. :-) And as for $$ corrupting government... that is not the topic of this article. The topic is people being angry and disgusted because they want to get back to their homes in a storm devastated area, NOW... not later..."NOW!!" and they don't trust the government or politicians to decide if things are safe enough or not.... I'm not turning this into a 'conspiracy'... you (and others) are. I'm not politicizing this situation, you (and others) are. And now I'm bored with the whole thing. Good Luck.
John November 09, 2012 at 08:09 PM
The snarky comment is relevant to the fact, Mattie. It has nothing to do with size, and your lucky for that! :-) It has to do with the destruction. And they were in within a day or two to clean up. We are at 10 days.
Nancy November 09, 2012 at 08:18 PM
Thank goodness Mattie is bored with the whole thing! :-)
John November 09, 2012 at 08:25 PM
Mr Troll They are putting them in place because they are politicians.
Chuck Lada November 09, 2012 at 08:27 PM
You won't be getting a certificate as we are almost the same. The reason the government is saying it isn't safe is to make it easier for them to steal from FEMA. The two issues can't be seperated. If Seaside was filled with residenrs, don't you think it would be more difficult to have Borough employees fix damage to all the private businesses and send the bill to FEMA. Wow you may be smart but you sure are naive.
John November 09, 2012 at 08:37 PM
Well said, Chuck.
John November 09, 2012 at 08:39 PM
Even better Chuck. And I don't really believe his IQ is 35 higher.
John November 09, 2012 at 08:41 PM
Very nice Nancy........
George November 10, 2012 at 12:54 AM
OK you two I have a way to solve this. Back to back walk ten steps turn and then answer rapid questions from Alex Trebek.
Tony a November 10, 2012 at 02:14 AM
A snippet of text that covers what we are seeing here, which is in effect a taking. .... nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
John November 11, 2012 at 02:56 AM
Nancy November 11, 2012 at 03:03 AM
I will try to be there tomorrow at 10am.
Karen RN November 11, 2012 at 03:32 AM
Are you people serious?! Go storm the bridge you idiots! No one is tryning to stop you from seering your homes, they just want you to be safe!! I live in Toms River and no one has stopped me from coming home because I have no safety issues!! They are protecting your homes from thieves by limiting access! Hey let them open the bridge and let everyone over and then you'll complain you were robbed!! Better yet sue the government because your sorry as... got blown up or electrocuted or sunk in a sink hole or etc, etc, etc!!
John November 11, 2012 at 03:43 AM
KarenRN We pray for you and your issues.... etc, etc, etc...........
Karen RN November 11, 2012 at 03:52 AM
John you are an issue. An unfortunate one for the people of this town.
John November 11, 2012 at 04:04 AM
KarenRN (Registered Nut) I've own property on the Island for 40 years. I love it there. But you know what. I can care less if they didn't rebuild any of the Island. I'll get paid thru my insurance. As a matter of fact, I think it would be great if they didn't. Because I would love to see YOUR TAXES rise thru the roof without the barrier Island supplementing your tax base.
George Hartwick November 11, 2012 at 10:49 AM
Gee, Lauren, Lavallette has power and water. Now, what's your excuse?
George Hartwick November 11, 2012 at 11:01 AM
Gee, sorry, Mattie, you're exactly right (how could you not be with those 138 IQ points)? My town (Lavallette) has power and water. The gas lines were turned off at Christie's order. I dont have a problem with that. No problem has been found with the roads in Lavallette and my home was undamaged. I am essentially homeless because of our arrogant governor. I am now three hours from work and school (lived in Lavallette full-time.) Surely, a quick ID flash at the bridge would suffice to keep out looters, so why is it I can't go home? Sorry, obeying authority for authority's sake makes zero sense to me. They work for me (and all of us) and I am entitled to answers. What's going on now is insulting. Sorry that your 138 IQ points are not sufficient for you to see that.
John November 11, 2012 at 07:56 PM
I'm looking for a single rider, male or female going to Chadwick Beach in the morning on the bus to retrieve your belongings. If you are going by yourself. I've had a house in Ortley for the past 40 yrs. Its just night my turn on the bus yet. I would like to accompany you on this nightmare. I am a professional video and photographer. In addition to helping you carry out an extra suit case. I will also document this experience for us as well as giving you a copy, AT NO CHARGE. For yourself and your insurance company. You can contact me at jes352002@yahoo.com and I will get back to you ASAP. John
John November 12, 2012 at 03:10 AM
This is what a few of us Ortley Beach residents witnessed this morning on Rt37. After 2 weeks and counting, NO ACCESS TO OUR PROPERTIES. With all the tax dollars that TR milks from us. We get a humiliating school bus ride to our properties for 1 hour with 1 suitcase to remove our belongings. http://m.youtube.com/#/watch?feature=em-share_video_user&v=-g7MYfleX-o&desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3D-g7MYfleX-o%26feature%3Dem-share_video_user
John November 12, 2012 at 11:26 AM
I guess Keyport and Union Beach doesn't have major destruction, they do. Boats/ cars on bridges and in the water and roadways upside down. With gas and oil leaking in the waterways and in the communities. Businesses destroyed roads torn up and poles down. The whole town of Union Beach and parts of Keansburg have to be leveled. Was it the same destruction as Ortley, probably not as big. BUT MAJOR..... And the difference is, the day after the storm people were helping people. They are climbing thru the rubble cleaning up. The difference is, 2 HARD WORKING BLUE COLLAR TOWNS WORKING TOGETHER. THEY WEREN'T BLOCKED OFF FROM THEIR HOMES OR BROUGHT IN ON A BUS TWO WEEKS LATER. A week fine, 2 weeks is becoming a JOKE.
Bob Davieau November 12, 2012 at 01:52 PM
I don't think Christie and the bureaucrats are handling this very well. Originally, I thought Christie was doing a godd job, but now I've changed my mind.
Bob Davieau November 12, 2012 at 01:59 PM
Many roads are clear and if there was danger of sink holes on route 35 which is being used for north and southbound traffic, do you really think they would be putting 60 plus pepole on each bus and driving them there? Many homes on the bayside only suffered from flooding and the roads are in pretty good shape. It's the oceanside that unfortunately took the major hit. The authorities should ask each property owner ( in areas not totally destroyed) to sign a waiver and allow them to return to their homes to do whatever is necessary to protect them from mold and to winterize them.
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