Margate residential damage estimated at $28M

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MARGATE – City officials estimate that Hurricane Sandy is responsible for $28 million in residential property damage and $14.5 million to city property.

Office of Emergency Management coordinator Jerry Greenberg gave an update at City Commission meeting the Thursday, Nov. 8 at Union Avenue School.

He said firefighters, police officers and members of the building department are going door to door to check on residents, particularly to assess whether they have working heat.

“The most important thing we're doing now is census,” business administrator Richard Deaney said at the meeting.

“We will be, over the next week or 10 days, be visiting every single home to do a census to ascertain who is still living in Margate and at those homes whether or not there are problems with electricity, power and heat,” he said.

“We know there are people living in Margate without heat presently, and we want to try to identify them and help them if we can. This is an ongoing effort that will continue through the next several weeks.”

Greenberg said that during the storm, the city used the Katz JCC on Jerome Avenue as a shelter of last resort. A generator and 17 cots were available for use. He said 46 people including six from Longport and six from Ventnor were evacuated from their homes Monday, Oct. 29 to the JCC, and the following day they were all transported to an American Red Cross shelter in Buena.

“During the height of the storm, Margate was virtually cut off from the rest of the world,” said Greenberg, adding that electric, cell phone reception, land-line phones and Internet service were all problematic and many times not functioning properly.

Greenberg said city dispatchers handled as many as 100 calls an hour.

“Some incoming calls would ring but nobody was on the line,” Greenberg said.

He said the bulkheads at Kenyon and Lancaster avenues were damaged during the storm, and the cost of those is still being calculated.

“This is an excellent example of the need for dunes along the beach,” Greenberg said, noting that Ventnor completed a beach replenishment project this past summer. Some of that beach ended up in Margate.

“It’s more granular than ours, but since it was free we combined it with our white sand and we accept their donation,” Greenberg said.

Mayor Mike Becker thanked Greenberg for his service to the city.

“This is a team effort. You are the leader of the team, and you did a great job,” he said. 

City Hall is still undergoing repairs after sustaining heavy flood damage. City operations are being conducted out of Union Avenue School, which is not being used by the school district to educate children. The city has collected more than $3 million in tax payments while operating out of the school.

Commissioner Brenda Taube gave special praise to Public Works Director Frank Ricciotti and his team.

“I am so proud and thankful to have Frank on our team,” Taube said. “I think our whole public works department rocks.”

The city will continue to place large trash receptacles throughout the town for residents to use through Wednesday, Nov. 28. They will be removed when full and placed in the areas that have the greatest need. 

Commissioner Maury Blumberg said his heart goes out to all the people who suffered loss.

“I certainly never saw anything as devastating as the night I came back and toured Margate City,” he said, adding that the city will rebuild one day at a time.

“It just goes to show you what you can do if you work together,” Blumberg said. “Neighbors are helping neighbors and city workers coming together to really shine.”

The commissioners recognized employees like system administrator Fred Verna, who worked around the clock to get the communications in Union Avenue School up and running for the city even though his own home sustained damage. They said Fire Chief Tony Tabasso’s home also sustained damage, yet he still went out and worked tirelessly for city residents.

“We have all said thanks to each other, and it is certainly well deserved,” Becker said.

“I’m telling you how honored I am to be mayor of this community. You people often hear me talk about family; I'm honored to be part of family. I thank each and every one of you for your great effort in a horrible situation.”

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