BELMAR, NJ — Belmar’s hurricane relief fund raised nearly $57,000 for the residents of Rockport, Texas —“far exceeding expectations,” according to Mayor Matthew Doherty, who initiated the effort.

Of that total, $41,000 was collected in donations boxes that were placed at every oceanfront entrance for the Labor Day weekend — the bulk of which was certainly collected on Labor Day when beach access and parking fees were waived as a way to encourage beach-goers to donate to the Belmar Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund for Rockport, Texas. Another $5,000 was donated in collection boxes at restaurants and other establishments throughout the borough participating in the effort.

Some $9,300 was contributed by D’Jais Bar & Grill, which charged a cover throughout the holiday weekend to support the Belmar relief fund, as well as another $1,000 was brought in by Merri-Makers Caterers, which operates Cruz Bay Café at the Taylor Pavilion on the boardwalk.  

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That nearly $57,000 is expected to climb to at least $63,000, Doherty said, based on a $5,000 pledge he has received from Maser Consulting in Red Bank and another $1,000 from the Friendly Sons of the Shillelagh in Belmar.

Doherty plans on flying at his own expense to Rockport later this week 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.”

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.

At its September 5 meeting, the Belmar Borough Council officially designated 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 mayor@belmar.com or 732-681-1300.

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