BELMAR, NJ — The devastation being left in Hurricane Harvey’s path in Texas is certainly stirring up indelible memories of Superstorm Sandy’s destruction along the Jersey Shore nearly five years ago.
It’s also bringing out a sense of generosity among those in the community who want to help out in any way they can. And Belmar Mayor Matthew Doherty is leading an organized effort to do just that.
During the Labor Day weekend, donation collection boxes will be placed at all beachfront entrances from Friday, September 1 through Monday, September 4, with monies raised to be earmarked for residents of Rockport, Texas — a small Gulf Coast town, located about 31 miles northeast of Corpus Christi.
“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.”
And now, also similar to what happened to Belmar in October 2012, much of Rockport has been wiped out and is confronting the harsh reality of having to rebuild — literally from the ground up.
While acknowledging the efforts of larger relief organizations that primarily support home and infrastructure reconstruction, Doherty said the purpose of Belmar’s fundraising initiative is 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.
Shortly after the Belmar Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund campaign ends, Doherty said he plans on flying to Rockport and present Mayor C.J. Wax with a check. “There is no one in a better position than he is to know where the money is most needed.”