Belmar donates beach, parking fees to devastated Texas town
BELMAR — A Jersey Shore town doesn't want your beach badge or parking money on Monday.
Instead, Belmar Mayor Matt Doherty would like you to donate it to relief efforts for Rockport, Texas, the town where Harvey came ashore with 130 mph winds and nearly drowned the town with over 30 inches of rain.
All of Belmar's parking meters are covered. Collections are being accepted on the boardwalk. Dozens of businesses are offering specials in exchange for donations.
"They got hammered by the storm on Day 1," Doherty said. Rockport is just north of Corpus Christi. The town remains without power and the roofs were peeled off many shops and homes by the heavy rain.
"We were looking for a town that's similar to ours in size and scope so that the donations were meaningful and tangible and would have a significant impact," Doherty told New Jersey 101.5.
Doherty wanted to directly help residents of the town with a population of 10,000 and ticked off many of the problems faced by Rockport that Belmar had after Superstorm Sandy in 2012.
"Lack of access in and out of the channels, people out of work, incredible devastation. And people are looking at bills coming due in September ... and there's no assistance coming from FEMA or any federal government agency for the type of monthly bills we all have. We learned that lesson in Belmar."
The mayor said many were generous with helping Belmar get back on its feet after Sandy and he sees this as a way to pay it forward.
Doherty said he will pay for his own flight to Texas to deliver the donations in the form of a cashier's check to Rockport Mayor Charles "CJ" Wax.
"From one mayor to another mayor, the funds are there for him to take care of those he knows are in desperate need . As the mayor of a small town there's no one who knows the needs of the families of their community than the mayor."
The lack of cell phone service in Rockport was another reminder of how Belmar was affected by Sandy. Doherty said Wax had to drive around to find a signal in order to talk.
Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com.
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