Superstorm Sandy Still Fills the Agenda of Toms River’s Mayor
Superstorm Sandy may have occurred two and a half years ago but it continues to dominate the efforts of local shore area officials. On WOBM-AM’s Townsquare Tonight, Superstorm Sandy directly impacted everything Toms River Mayor Tom Kelaher spoke about.
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Take his recent trip to Norway for example. He was selected along with a sparse number representatives all over the U.S. to attend a planning summit for a Global Warming expedition to the North Pole. Kelaher was selected because he was the leader of a town that was severely impacted by a natural disaster that is believed to have been triggered by extreme weather conditions associated with Global Warming.
However, Kelaher doesn’t buy into the term Global Warming or its political implications. He did however say he was a believer in “Climate Change”.
“You have to be realistic and realize there’s Climate Change. I think the real issue that everybody has to face is what’s causing it? Is it natural or a progression of nature or is it man made? And that’s the real test as I see it,” said Kelaher.
The impact of Climate Change continues to effect Toms River. Kelaher said while they wait for the Army Corps of Engineers storm protection project to begin, severe storms continue to pummel the Township’s beaches. He said the Township shelled out $400,000 to bulk up its dunes in the aftermath of Sandy. However, recent coastal storms wiped out that layer of defense, forcing them to shell out $500,000 additional dollars to rebuild its temporary dunes.
“As it is right now, if you go over there today at high tide, the ocean is right up against the dunes that we have,” said Kelaher.
Many of the township’s residents also remain out of their homes as a result of Superstorm Sandy. Kelaher said many of these homeowners who weren’t eligible before, will now be able to qualify for the last round of funding in the State’s new LMI (Low-to-Moderate) Income Homeowners Rebuilding Program.
“This is not poverty level. Surprisingly, when we looked at the criteria the other day when we just got this thing, 40 some odd percent of the people in the areas of our town qualify.”
According to the township press release, ” a family of four with an income of less than $69,800 is eligible to apply for the grant. Also, substantially damaged homeowners are given first priority to the funding.”