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Mantoloking Hoping for March 1 Repopulation

Previous estimates said borough wouldn't repopulate until late spring

Borough officials in Mantoloking are hopeful that residents will be able to return to their homes March 1.

Previously, officials estimated residents would not be able to repopulate until some time around Memorial Day thanks to catastrophic damage to infrastructure caused by Superstorm Sandy.

But two out of four steps that need to be taken in order to be able to repopulate are completed already, said Chris Nelson, special counsel for the borough's recovery effort.

"It's an ambitious date, considering it's only 100 days after the storm, but I think we can do it," said Nelson.

Borough officials have already submitted a draft repopulation plan to the New Jersey State Police, said Nelson.

Water and sewer service is now restored to the entire municipality, and electricity has been restored to the vast majority of homes that are able to be powered up. Gas service has been restored to residents except those on the eastern side of Barnegat Lane.

New electrical meters are currently being installed in homes across town, and officials have cautioned homeowners to turn off their electrical main switches if they have not already done so.

In order to repopulate, all borough streets must be cleared. Currently, Nelson said, four streets are blocked by structures in the right-of-way.

A second step toward repopulation is a requirement that the borough must be deemed safe for residents to live there permanently.

Officials said 50,000 cubic yards of debris have been removed from Mantoloking since Sandy struck.

Engineer Lawrence Plevier said a borough-wide program to demolish and remove ruined homes will likely begin in March and be mostly completed by May.

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