BELMAR, NJ — Belmar Mayor Matthew Doherty traveled on September 9 to hurricane-ravaged Rockport, Texas, where he presented Mayor Charles “CJ” Wax with a $70,000 check — the final tally collected as part of the borough’s hurricane relief fund effort.

Doherty traveled at his own expense this weekend to make the presentation as Rockport’s extensive rebuilding effort gets under way. “They are doing a remarkable job cleaning up, but still have a long road of recovery ahead of them,” the mayor reported on this Facebook page, where he has also posted photos from his visit.

Of the gift’s total amount, $41,000 was collected in donations boxes that were placed at every oceanfront entrance for the Labor Day weekend — the bulk of which was 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. The remainder of the money was donated through collection boxes at restaurants and other establishments participating in the effort, as well as through donations made by other individuals, businesses and organizations in the community.

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After Hurricane Harvey slammed into the Gulf Coast of Texas on August 25, Doherty organized the fundraising effort for Rockport because of its similarities to Belmar, devastated in many of the same ways when Superstorm Sandy ravaged the Jersey coastline in 2012.

The small coastal town with a population of about 10,000 now is in the midst of rebuilding, and Doherty would like to see the money used to provide critical financial assistance to its residents directly. “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.

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