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Toms River One Year Post-Storm: New Looks, New Challenges

Toms River, for many the epicenter not just of Superstorm Sandy but of all its ramifications, has rebounded considerably in a year, says Mayor Tom Kelaher. But many obstacles remain and it’s likely to change the township’s appearance, priorities and even its population.

Toms River Mayor Tom Kelaher and town officials announce plan to demolish Sandy-abandoned homes. (Photo by Ilya Hemlin, Townsquare Media)

In an open letter to taxpayers, Kelaher enumerated accomplishments and objectives since October 2012. Among the highlights: 10,500 homes damaged; 20 percent of the township’s tax base wiped out; $20,000,000 spent on cleanup and remediation and just over $4,000,000 in hand from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The missive also notes 141 voluntary home demolitions, 1,015 permits issued to tear houses down, 223 homes to be elevated in four years, 317 entirely new dwellings and 1,829 post-storm zoning permits, eclipsing the 1,130 averaged in 2010 and 2011. He describes about 600 homes as uninhabitable with demolition pending for 123.

The township spent $953,760 to rebuild its boardwalk, and raised it two feet above FEMA base flood requirements, Kelaher said. Dunes fronting the sea are described as standing three times the minimum required by FEMA.

He concludes, conservatively, that “The effort will not be over for at least another year or two. We will continue to do what’s necessary to help our residents.”

Governor Christie’s mobile cabinet pulls up to Toms River Town Hall, Thursday from 3 PM until 7 PM, with information for Sandy survivors about finances, social services, family support, aid for home and business owners and renters, environment, health and more.

See the full text of his message here.

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