The city and its citizens, businesses and churches will team up to provide a coordinated effort to provide relief in the wake of a massive coastal storm last week that left an estimated $438 million in damage to public and private property in Ocean City.
Volunteers and city officials gathered at City Hall on Monday afternoon to announce the formation of the OCNJ C.A.R.E. (Cleanup and Recovery Effort) Project.
"This is what Ocean City is all about: neighbors helping neighbors," Mayor Jay Gillian said.
"People from around the country have responded," said Brian Roberts, one of the volunteer leaders of OCNJ C.A.R.E. "But we needed a network to coordinate that."
Anybody interested in volunteering, donating or receiving help is asked to contact OCNJ C.A.R.E.:
- On Facebook: facebook.com/OCNJCARE
- On website: ocnjcare.com (expected to be launched by Monday evening)
- By phone: 855-622-2730
- By mail (for donations): P.O. Box 807, Ocean City, NJ 08226
The contact information above also can be used for any general questions about storm recovery — from insurance, to contractors, to mold and cleanup issues, to further details on how to help or get help.
The organization has also set up geographic "C.A.R.E. captains" by ward. If you or anyone you know is in need of any sort of storm-related assistance, confidential calls and emails can be made to:
- First Ward (North of Fourth Street): Mike DeVlieger, firstname.lastname@example.org, 609-231-8987
- Second Ward (Fourth to 12th streets): Antwan McClellan, email@example.com, 609-517-6593
- Third Ward (12th to 26th streets): Susan Sheppard, firstname.lastname@example.org, 609-425-7710
- Fourth Ward (South of 26th Street): Joe Ney, email@example.com, 609-247-3515
Gillian said the City of Ocean City has already committed an unprecedented amount of equipment and resources to the cleanup effort and hauled away more than 1,000 tons of debris (a typical mid-summer week entails about 90 tons).
He said initial estimates provided to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) are $438 million for damage to public and private property, including $31 million in beach damages.
But the numbers don't tell the story of families without roofs over their heads or students without school supplies, said Drew Fasy, another volunteer leader for OCNJ C.A.R.E.
"The island is in shambles," Fasy said. "This is a marathon, not a sprint."
The mission of the new group is to provide food, clothing and shelter to the community. The group has created a nonprofit organization and all donations are tax-deductible. The all-volunteer group has no overhead so all contributions go directly to the relief effort.
Project partners include the City of Ocean City, the Ocean City Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Ocean City Ecumenical Council, the Ocean City School District, the Ocean City Tabernacle and the Ocean City Board of Realtors.
The Board of Directors includes Fasy (chairperson), Tom Aromando (treasurer), Mike Allegretto, Brian Broadley, Mike Dattilo, Michele Gillian, Jay Gillian, Scott Halliday, Jim Mallon, Maria Marinelli, Joe Ney, Brian Roberts, Mark Soifer, Kathy Sykes and Kathleen Taylor.