For the second time in four days, Sea Bright residents gathered in a stadium, this time in West Long Branch, to get updates on the storm cleanup Sunday. Below, Mayor Dina Long and Councilman James LoBiondo. (Click to enlarge)


Sea Bright residents were to begin getting greater access to their homes Monday morning, town officials told them at another packed-grandstand meeting Sunday.

Though a massive cleanup and repair of public works infrastructure is proceeding more quickly than initially anticipated, “Sea Bright is not ready to be reoccupied,” Mayor Dina Long said at a townwide meeting held at Shore Regional High’s football field in West Long Branch.

Still, officials hope to allow unimpeded access to residents as early as Friday, said Councilman James LoBiondo, who has headed up the effort to cap leaking natural gas lines and remove hundreds of tons of sand from roadways.

No one will be allowed south of the bridge until Tuesday because of the presence of heavy equipment and restoration work, officials said. (Click to enlarge)

Last Thursday, at a similar open-air town meeting at Rumson-Fair Haven Regional, Long said it would be seven to 10 days before resident and business owners could get to see their homes and shops. But an all-out, around-the-clock effort to contain gas leaks and bulldoze sand from thoroughfares is ahead of schedule, officials said.

The sand is being tested for contaminants before being run through giant sifters in the parking lot of McLoone’s Rum Runner to remove debris, Councilman Read Murphy told redbankgreen. From there, it’s being trucked back to the municipal beach, where a man-made mesa of sand that appears 20 feet above sea level has been created.

The sand will eventually be distributed along beachfronts, he said.

Beginning today, those who own or rent property north of the Rumson-Sea Bright Bridge were to be permitted in, escorted, to retrieve personal items and begin assessing the damage to their homes starting at 9 a.m.

Owners of properties south of the bridge will be permitted in Tuesday. Access is first-come, first-served, with the last escort heading into town from the Rumson anchorage of the bridge at 3:30 p.m. each day.

Access is being granted to one or two adult household members, officials said: no pets or children will be allowed into town. Residents will not be permitted to wander around or enter the southern part of town, where earthmoving and utility work is underway, officials said.