Belmar, New Jersey
Thank You Belmar, New Jersey
Date: Fri, 3 Feb 2006 21:06:50 EST
Subject: Re: Belmar, NJ and Sister city to Pass Christian
Belmar formerly adopted Pass Christian last September, with our First Aid Squad donating an ambulance in October and one of our residents delivered a truck full of goods and toys in mid-December. We are also having a fundraiser on Friday, February 24 called the Bel-Mardi-Gras. We intend to continue our efforts to help in any way we can. There are several newspaper articles from our local paper, The Coast Star, and I will get copies to you, if need be.
I have reached out to our Boro officials and sent our Boro Administrator your response. Hopefully, we can get on your Sister City list.
Our town on the New Jersey shore is very similar in many ways to The Pass and we feel a certain kinship with you all down there. We are a small town with approximately 6,000 residents and were amazed at the many similarities to The Pass. Our town's website is www.Belmar.com if you are interested in any information.
I'll be in touch again soon. Thanks again for your response.
October 6, 2005
Belmar ups aid to beleaguered town
By Kara Lott --- The Coast Star
BELMAR — The borough council here has approved the creation of a special trust fund to accept financial gifts and donations for Hurricane Katrina relief efforts. The measure is just one part of the town’s continuing efforts to help Pass Christian, Miss. rebuild from the devastation left behind by the hurricane.
Belmar has formally adopted the small shore community — which lost its city hall, schools, both fire stations and police department in the Aug. 29 hurricane — and council members last month appointed borough resident Becky Krikorian to head up the relief effort, named “Shore to Shore, Hand to Hand, Belmar to Pass Christian.”
Fran Hines, a member of the Belmar First Aid Squad, traveled to Pass Christian, also known as “The Pass,” with Belmar Capt. Tom Palmisano last weekend. The squad donated an old Belmar ambulance to the Mississippi town and it was transported there on the back of a flatbed truck.
Mr. Hines, who also serves on Belmar’s fire department and emergency management team, said the reason for his visit with Capt. Palmisano was to deliver the ambulance and see firsthand the damage — and to find out what Belmar could do to help.
“It was incredible to see the damage, just incredible,” Mr. Hines said this week. “I was moved.”
He said that of the approximately 100 homes left standing in Pass Christian following the storm, about half were still habitable. Mr. Hines said a division of the U.S. is running heavy equipment in the town to
assist with the recovery efforts, along with building temporary housing for those residents who want to return home.
Mr. Hines said he observed a few people living in tents on what appeared to be their own property, beginning the long process of cleaning up and rebuilding — but not many.
“They’re all still shell-shocked,” he said.
While visiting, Mr. Hines said he also saw “power trucks everywhere” working to erect new poles in the ground so electricity could be restored. And the town had just had its water turned back on after going more than 30 days without running water, he added.
"The whole downtown was just a pile of rubble, it was pretty wild,” Mr. Hines said. “The whole infrastructure is just shot.”
He said it was evident during his visit that the town was struck by an approximately 30-foot wave during Hurricane Katrina that washed away dozens of homes and buildings. He said he saw what would be called Ocean Avenue in Belmar and all that was left was concrete slabs where homes had once stood — the water surge carried all the debris blocks away.
“The wave actually took all these homes and just tossed them and broke them up like little sticks,” Mr. Hines said.
He said the Federal Emergency Management Agency [FEMA] has hired a contractor to remove debris, an effort that is expected to take months.
“It’s like tearing the whole town down and carting it away,” he said, adding that no rebuilding can occur until all of the debris is taken away.
According to Mr. Hines, a Pass Christian firefighter was killed in the hurricane and another one is still missing. He said the police department tried to weather the storm in the town’s library and nearly drowned in the process.
“These are the guys that hung in there with the town,” he said, adding he plans to work with the first aid and fire department there to help them get back on their feet.
Mr. Hines said he hopes Belmar can raise cash donations to benefit The Pass at Christmas.
“It’s going to be a sad day down there I can tell you that,” he said.
New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin announced this week he would be laying off up to 3,000 employees because Hurricane Katrina left the city broke. Mr. Hines said the move is likely to happen across Louisiana since so many evacuees are not paying any taxes.
“There’s no coffers to draw from to pay your employees,” he said.
Mr. Hines gave a presentation to the council at last Wednesday night’s meeting — prior to his trip to Pass Christian — regarding the squad’s donation of the ambulance, which was packed with supplies.
Mr. Hines told council members he hoped to begin working with Pass Christian’s fire chief — who he said he talks to on a daily basis — regarding a long-term plan for recovery.
Councilwoman Patricia Provenzano noted the borough plans to help support Pass Christian’s recovery efforts are not a “one-shot deal” but, instead, will go on for years to come.
Mr. Hines, who received two rounds of applause from the council and members of the public during his presentation, also said he planned to contact every borough department, from the mayor on down, to see what else could be donated to Pass Christian. Andy Meuerle, the borough’s public works superintendent, noted there may be several pieces of equipment that could be donated.
Acting Borough Administrator Robbin Kirk also said the borough plans to ask local bike shops in the area to help repair a number of old bikes the town would have otherwise auctioned off later this month to be sent to Pass Christian.
Belmar plans to hold a drive on Oct. 22 — national Make a Difference Day — at the municipal gym to collect various goods, including baby products, cleaning supplies and other essential items, for the residents of Pass Christian.
Mr. Hines said while he was in the devastated Mississippi town he saw clothes and cases of water “just laying everywhere ... dumped in parking lots.”
“I think that part of the emergency down there is over,” he added.
For more information on the collection drive, call Belmar Borough Hall at 732-681-3700 or visit www.belmar.com