Ocean County Press Release

OCEAN COUNTY'S recovery efforts continue around the clock in the aftermath of the worst natural disaster to ever strike the region.

"All of our county departments remain mobilized and are responding wherever needed," said Ocean County Freeholder Director Gerry P. Little. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims of this horrific storm."

County road crews have been on duty since the hurricane struck and continue working to clear debris and sand from the barrier islands.

Both islands remain closed to the public and will remain so until further notice, said Chief Michael G. Osborn of the Ocean County Sheriff's Department.

"It appears Long Beach Island will not reopen for at least 10 days," Osborn said. "We have no timetable for the northern island."

The coastline from Seaside Park to Point Pleasant Beach suffered the worst damage, with numerous homes and businesses destroyed by rain and wind.

In Mantoloking Borough the ocean carved a wide channel across the island and washed several homes into the bay near the base of the Mantoloking Bridge.

The Ocean County Road Department worked feverishly to close the channel and as of Thursday morning had reopened access to the barrier island south of Mantoloking to emergency vehicles only.

"Our road department did an outstanding job to at least partially fill in that breach with stones and rocks so National Guard trucks could reach areas south of the Mantoloking Bridge," said Freeholder Deputy Director John C. Bartlett Jr.

County Emergency Management officials and local fire departments are also working with crews from New Jersey Natural Gas to extinguish any remaining gas lines that ignited following the storm.

More than 200 NJ National Guard Troops have also been deployed to both islands to assist with recovery and rescue efforts.

More than 500 people who did not heed the call to evacuate were removed from the islands following the storm.

National Guard troops have now joined State Police, The Ocean County Prosecutor's Office, the Ocean County Sheriff's Department and local police in patrolling the evacuated areas and guarding against looting.

"We have officers on the ground protecting public and private property," Osborn said. "Looting will not be tolerated."

Emergency Management officials ask that residents please do not call 911 unless it is an actual emergency.

Emergency lines are being overwhelmed with calls from residents asking about power restoration, the availability of gasoline and other non-emergency related questions.

Jersey Central Power & Light Co. has announced that free drinking water and ice is available to residents at local supermarkets, including Shop-Rite, Stop & Shop and Foodtown stores.

Officials ask residents to be extremely cautious around fallen utility lines, as power could be restored to them unexpectedly.

"A line that was dead yesterday could have voltage in it today," Osborn warned.

The Ocean County Office of Social Services offices were closed today in Toms River and Lakewood because of power outages, but the Stafford Township facility on Haywood Road is open, although the building has no phone service.

The offices will be re-evaluated on Friday and a decision made then on whether to re-open or not, Little said.

Officials from both the Ocean County Board of Social Services and the Department of Human Services continue to work with individuals at the evacuation shelters throughout the county.

All Ocean County Parks, with the exception of Jake's Branch County Park in Beachwood, remain closed because of the danger of falling tree limbs.

For more information, contact the Parks Department at 732-281-2750.

The Ocean County Department of Solid Waste Management's Document Shredding Program has cancelled this weekend events at Ocean Township on November 2, and Brick Township on November 3. Shredding events at these locations will be rescheduled at a later date.

Vote by Mail efforts also continue at both the Ocean County Administration Building in Toms River and the Southern Service Center in Manahawkin.

On Thursday and Friday, November 1st and 2nd, voters can obtain a ballot from 8AM until 9PM at both locations.
In addition, the Clerk's Office will be open on Saturday and Sunday November 3rd and 4th from 9AM until 4PM and Monday, November 5th, 8AM until 3PM.

Registered voters in the six communities on Long Beach Island (Barnegat Light, Harvey Cedars, Beach Haven, Long Beach Township, Ship Bottom and Surf City) as well as the municipalities of Barnegat, Eagleswood, Lacey, Little Egg Harbor, Ocean, Stafford and Tuckerton are urged to visit the Southern Service Center, 179 South Main Street at the corner of routes 9 and 72 in Manahawkin to apply for and obtain a ballot.

Since the storm hit, Ocean County voters have been able to obtain ballots at the County Clerk's temporary location in the County Administration Building located on 101 Hooper Avenue, Room 116 in Toms River. The Clerk's Office temporarily relocated to the Administration Building after losing power at the Court House on Monday.

"We realize this is a stressful time for all our residents and now we are offering two locations in the northern and southern portions of our County to ensure that every registered voter has the opportunity to cast a ballot despite the impact of Hurricane Sandy," Colabella said.

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