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Toms River places week’s worth of storm prep on the line

Superstorm Sandy taught them exactly what they needed to know about defenses in Toms River, says Mayor Tom Kelaher. They’re readier than ever.

Toms River Township Mayor Tom Kelaher, by TSM Tom Mongelli
Toms River Township Mayor Tom Kelaher, by TSM Tom Mongelli

Township public works crews, police, EMTs, firefighters, engineers and even the school district have a hand in operations before and during the worst of the weekend.

Under the direction of DPW Director Lou Amoruso, teams spent most of the week moving sand in Ortley Beach, still vulnerable since the Superstorm, “with bulldozers, scarfing sand off the flat part of the beach,” Kelaher said, “and building, in effect, a dune in front of a dune.”

During the week in Ortley, Amoruso discovered a potential ally just offshore – a massive sand bar about 100 yards out. “We’re optimistic that if there is much of a surge, the sand bar will trigger it to break out there instead of on the beach.”

The real test will be time. “We have to experience four phases of the high tide. There’s a full moon. And depending on the wind, we could have a series of floodings, especially in the low-lying areas,” Kelaher said.

After Sandy, the township entered an ongoing emergency contract with Earle Asphalt to deliver sand wherever it’s needed. Kelaher says they’re on notice

But there’s also the snow, and even the areas spared the worst are looking at six inches or more. “We have more than 200 pieces of snow removal equipment. Not only our own people, but also the contractors we have on standby,” Kelaher said.

“We also have four high-water rescue vehicles. Our fire companies have Zodiac boats and jet skis.”

The township has set aside inland spots to move cars onto high ground, and revived emergency sheltering, if evcuations become necessary, at the Pine Belt Arena and High School East.

Kelaher urges residents to stay in communication through the township web page, social media outlets and the Nixel alert system that delivers texts to cell phones.

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