A New Jersey mayor is suspending beach access and parking fees in the borough of Belmar on Labor Day – asking residents and visitors to instead donate to a municipal relief effort for Rockport, Texas.
The coastal town of Rockport is similar in size to Belmar and received catastrophic damage during Hurricane Harvey.
Mayor Matt Doherty is planning to deliver collected donations late next week to Rockport, traveling on his own expense, the Asbury Park Press reported.
On Tuesday, the Borough Council is expected to adopt Rockport as a sister city to formalize the arrangement.
Doherty says there are parallels to the damage sustained by Belmar during Superstorm Sandy and what Rockport has experienced this week.
In November 2012, the Monmouth County municipality announced that damage from the storm was “widespread and immense.” 20,000 tons of debris and 111,000 cubic yards of sand were removed from the borough’s streets.
“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, and car payments. There’s no money for people struggling with those hardships, which can last for weeks, months, and even years,” he said.
— Matt Doherty (@mattdohertynj) September 1, 2017
The Associated Press contributed to this report.