Municipalities extend life line to Coastal Communities
On October 29, 2012 Superstorm Sandy came ashore in New Jersey, wreaking unprecedented damage across the Garden State as well as most of the Eastern coast. The result was a tragic loss of life, widespread and long-term power outages and a significant loss of property.
Families were displaced, including too many still unable to return to their homes. Power outages ranged from a couple of hours or days to weeks, depending on the region of the State. Iconic symbols of the Jersey shore were damaged or destroyed, with concerns raised over the short term impact on tourism, commercial fishing and the State’s economy.
Since then, the State has steadily progressed through its recovery towards restoration but significant portions of the State remain devastated. A full recovery is likely years away. As the region awaits additional and needed federal assistance, some assistance is more local as our municipalities have reached out to assist our fellow New Jerseyans.
For instance, in late November the Borough of Madison formally agreed to partner with Union Beach on storm restoration efforts. Later that week a special town hall meeting was held to engage Madison residents in the efforts. Madison officials also met with Union Beach officials and identified three priorities for the Borough: residential disaster relief, the Union Beach school system and Project PAUL, a local organization offering social services as well as a food pantry and a thrift shop to area residents.
Since then, the Borough has raised over $100,000 in direct financial support and building materials. Additionally, Madison did the following: they dedicated their Construction Code Official, electrical and plumbing inspectors to be on site to assist; started a virtual food drive for an area food pantry; assisted in arrangements for an electrical firm and two tree companies to provide courtesy services to residents; organized a volunteer drive for the removal of debris; identified a source for 400 wrapped gifts that were presented to children at a holiday party in Union Beach; secured medical and pro bono legal services for residents and together with the Borough of Wanaque donated two refurbished police cars.
In early January, 60 students from Madison Junior School traveled to Union Beach to assist debris pickup and unload four truckloads of building supplies donated by Investors Bank. The school previously ran a collection drive and collected cleaning supplies, food, blankets and other necessities. A movie night was also held and raised over $1,600 for relief efforts. Future fund raising events include a dinner dance, flea market and “cut-a-thon” with all proceeds dedicated to Union Beach.
The Borough also enlisted Simon Kaplan of Mountainside, the owner of Value City Furniture, who donated $78,000 worth of furniture to Union Beach victims of the Hurricane and also invited to them “shop for free” at the company’s East Brunswick store on January 26.
Of course, these are just a handful of examples of the assistance provided to communities devastated by Sandy. Madison’s example has been replicated by other communities, as well as by private interests from across the nation.
More on the Borough’s ongoing commitment is available at: http://www.rosenet.org/gov/administration/pages/union-beach-partnership