BELMAR, NJ — A banner beach day in Belmar on Labor Day could translate into a bounty of support for a Texas town severely crushed by Hurricane Harvey.
It all depends on how generous beach-goers will be on September 4, the unofficial last day of summer. Mayor Matthew Doherty has suspended beach and parking fees, hoping that beach-goers will instead donate to the Belmar Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund for Rockport, Texas.
So instead of having to dish out $8 for a daily beach badge, visitors can instead place a donation in one of the collection boxes that have been placed at every oceanfront entrance. While the effort began on September 1, Labor Day is the only day beach access and parking are free.
Restaurants throughout the borough also have rallied as part of the effort, including La Terrazza, 3 Brothers Pizza, Coney Island Waffle, Jimmy's Place and Playa Bowls, all on Ocean Avenue, and Stay Gold Café, Sweet Tease, Anchor Tavern, Jack's Tavern, Surf Taco and Jersey Shore BBQ, all in the downtown district, as well as Marina Grille and the Friendly Sons of the Shillelagh, among others. Also, D’Jais Bar & Grill is charging a $5 per-person cover charge throughout Labor Day to support the Belmar relief fund, pledging a minimum $5,000 contribution.
Monies raised through the campaign will be earmarked specifically for residents of Rockport, Texas — a small Gulf Coast town outside Corpus Christi that was destroyed by Hurricane Harvey.
Doherty said he selected Rockport because of its similarities to Belmar, devastated in many of the same ways when Superstorm Sandy ravaged the Jersey coastline in 2012. “Rockport was in the news in the beginning of the storm, when Hurricane Harvey made its first landfall there,” Doherty said. “It’s very similar to Belmar, being a small coastal town with a population of about 10,000.”
As Rockport now confronts the harsh reality of having to rebuild, Doherty is looking to provide critical financial assistance to the residents themselves. “Through our experience with Superstorm Sandy, we know that after the cameras are gone and the story dies down, the residents are faced with the personal financial impact of it all — how to pay their mortgage, credit cards, cell phone bills, car payments. There’s no money for people struggling with those hardships, which can last for weeks, months and even years,” he said.
Doherty said he plans on flying to Rockport next weekend to present Mayor Charles “CJ” Wax with a check from the campaign. “There is no one in a better position than he is to know where the money is most needed.”
At its September 5 meeting, the Belmar Borough Council is expected to officially designate Rockport as a “sister city” — joining together to enhance mutual understanding and to aid in relief efforts for victims of Hurricane Harvey, according to the proposed resolution.
For more information on making a donation, contact Doherty at firstname.lastname@example.org or 732-681-1300.
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