News

Summer After Sandy: A Long Climb Back In Toms River

4,000 Homes Were Damaged And 400 Are Being Demolished
A still-damaged home in Toms River, N.J. - May 31, 2013 (credit: Sean Adams / WCBS 880)

A still-damaged home in Toms River, N.J. – May 31, 2013 (credit: Sean Adams / WCBS 880)

TOMS RIVER, N.J. (CBSNewYork) - Earlier this week, President Barack Obama and Gov. Chris Christie proclaimed the Jersey Shore is back in business.

Today, as part of our Summer After Sandy series, WCBS 880 reporter Sean Adams visited a part of the shore that’s still far from recovered.

It’s going to be a long climb back for sections of Toms River along Barnegat Peninsula.

Ortley Beach, Ocean Beach, and Normandy Beach are part ghost town, part demolition/construction site.

Ortley Beach is virtually deserted, Adams reported, though there are summer rentals available. The beach is even open, but many streets are closed due to debris piles and demolition equipment.

Tim O’Shea of Birchler Realtors is fielding plenty of questions.

“Are there going to be beaches? Are the businesses going to be open? What about the noise? Are we going to have constant construction starting at 7 o’clock in the morning throughout the summer with tons of construction vehicles and porta potties?” he said. “The Ortley Beach numbers are almost non-existent, unfortunately. I would say, you know, from the other areas where we still do rentals, we’re off at least 50 percent.”

Toms River Mayor Tom Kelaher told Adams there is a trickle down effect and everyone is suffering.

“If the renters don’t come, the landlord and brokers don’t get any commission. The property owners who depend on the summer rentals to help pay taxes or mortgages aren’t gonna be able to get that and the restaurants, bars, and other businesses are gonna be hurt,” he said.

Toms River has lost 20 to 25 percent of its tax base, the mayor said.

Adams reported that 400 homes, known locally as “Dorothy Homes” – topsy turvy cottages and bungaloes named in homage to “The Wizard of Oz,” are being demolished.

“These derilict houses were a hazard and a morale problem. Just a couple of weeks ago, FEMA gave us the green light and we started demolishing,” Kelaher said. “Sean, it’s not gonna happen overnight.”

4,000 homes in Toms River were damaged by superstorm Sandy.

The big push now is for dunes, but the mayor said more than a dozen beach associations haven’t signed easements to allow them.

As WCBS 880’s Jim Smith reported in January, resident Frank Pezucci said a private beach owned by the local homeowners’ association is the reason his family has been in Ortley Beach for decades.

“That’s why we purchased the home in the first place. If I didn’t want that I would have gone to Seaside Heights or Seaside Park or Lavallette,” he said.

You May Also Be Interested In These Stories