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Life Nowhere Near Normal on Beach Drive in Cliffwood Beach

Piles of garbage remain infront of homes weeks after storm while residents try to rebuild on the quiet bay-front street.

Update: On Friday, Nov. 30 Aberdeen Township officials reached out to Patch to let the community know that dumpsters would be arriving at Beach Drive. More details here. 

Beach Drive is a tight-knit community within the Cliffwood Beach section of Aberdeen Township. It's a neighborhood where everyone smiles and waves and celebrates milestones at each other's backyard barbeques.

The quiet street is nestled along the Raritan Bay and offers the waterfront properties a view of Keyport, Union Beach, and even Staten Island on clear days. 

Thirty days after Sandy's raging tidal surge caused severe flood damage to the Bayshore, however, life on Beach Drive is still nowhere near normal.

Mounds of soggy construction materials, old TVs, photos, furniture, childhood toys and memories remain piled several feet high on the front lawns of the homes and scattered across their driveways. 

"Every week we get a run-around (from the township). Oh next week, next week, next week," said Fred McPeek, who lives at 309 Beach Drive. The pile in front of his home has been there since the Saturday after the storm.

"Even if they said, 'Look we can't afford it,' I'll just get a dumpster. But they're leading us on. They're gonna come, they're gonna come but they never get here."

McPeek said that neither he nor his neighbors have seen a single truck coming to clean up the mess Sandy left behind. They have, however, seen a number of trucks that come by to sweep up the leaves. 

Aberdeen Township Department of Works has not yet returned phone calls placed by Patch inquiring about Beach Drive.

Jane and Matt Heron, who live on the water directly across the street from McPeek, moved into their home six months ago.  

The Heron family were originally told that the township could only collect certain items, and then were told that the building materials would have to be separated from other debris. Wednesday morning, Jane was told that everything would be collected and that it did not have to be separated. 

Matt noted that the lack of communication that several residents complained about at a public meeting following Sandy has not improved. 

"This street does not encompass a large area. I don't know how many houses, maybe a dozen," he said. "So it's a little mind boggling to try and comprehend why can't they let us know what's going on. What are the plans?"

Jane Heron noted that even though township officials have responded to her inquiries, there has been no follow through. 

"They kept telling us, 'Just call us and tell us what you need.' And that's not helping," she said. 

Another Beach Drive resident, Ed Modrak, feels that the township does not care about their well-being. 

"They said they were going to come how long ago?" he asked rhetorically. "They're still picking up leaves. That's more important."

"They don't want us here, otherwise they would have helped," he added. 

Considering everything they lost in the storm and the frustration they have felt since, McPeek observed that they are still standing strong as a community.

"We didn't lose our spirits yet," he said. 

"We've had to deal with this and I think we've shown that we can deal with this and we're trying and were keeping our wits about us and our sense of humor," said Matt Heron.

Jane Heron added that all she has to do to gain some perspective is glance across the bay.

"Believe me, we look out at Union Beach every day and I don't complain about anything. Those people would love to have our issues to deal with," she said. 

Even so, with little information from the town, residents are either unsure of how or unable to continue forward. McPeek explained that he has asked a contractor to install a new furnace in his home, but the contractor can't get in with all of the debris laying everything.

"There's not enough noise here. Noisy barrens get the grease, I guess," he said, looking at the mounds of trash and shaking his head. 

Cliffwood Beach November 30, 2012 at 01:30 AM
I live 5 blocks from these houses & feel like our side of town is Left out there are still tree down or branches put in tall piles along with the leaves & with the notices that were mailed out weeks after the start date of what the town said pick up would be our side of town Still Waits!!
So Sad November 30, 2012 at 01:42 AM
This is terrible! I live on the opposite side of town, down trees have not been picked up on this side either. Although, I assumed the worst hit areas of Cliffwood Beach were taken care of first. I'm sory to see that wasn't the case. Dumpsters and backhoe's should be there to help the residents discard of the damaged property and sheet rock. I'm puzzled as to what the township has done for any residents???
Patience November 30, 2012 at 02:51 AM
I think people should stop blaming the Mayor and Council for everything. I know that they care and the employees are overwhelmed too! they are still dealing with the aftermath of Sandy and trying to do their everyday jobs as well. I called the town several times and have always gotten a call back. I called three sanitation companies to try and get a dumpster and was told that there is a shortage of dumpsters due to the massive destruction in towns like Union Beach. Sometimes people need to be responsible, if the town isn't moving fast enough for you, call and get your own dumpster - but you'll probably have to wait!! Go down to the recycling center and see how much debris has already been collected if you think they are not doing their job. I was told by my insurance company not to throw away ANYTHING until they came to inspect, and now even though I want to get my own dumpster - I have to wait too.
Kris Bradley November 30, 2012 at 04:38 PM
I think everyone knows that the town has a lot on it's hands. I live a street up from Beach Drive, and I've gotten notices about when debris was supposed to be picked up - but it hasn't been. Not the whole lives of my neighbors that had to be dumped on their curbs, nor any of the tree debris on and down the sides of the roads (some of which is making kids walking home from school have to walk in the road). I think the frustration comes in from being told that the help is coming, and then not having it show up. If there's no room to put the mess right now, just say so. Otherwise pick a date to have it picked up and then stick to it!

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