Ortley Beach NJ gets warning system and sirens
TOMS RIVER – A new lightning warning system could be installed on the public beach at Ortley Beach by the end of June, township administrator Lou Amoruso said.
The system, which is expected to cost around $35,000, will include sirens that will sound to warn beach visitors to leave the sand, Amoruso said. The warning sirens will be installed at the two Ortley Beach lifeguard buildings: the Lord House, located at the northern end of the seafront, and the Block House, at the southern end.
Mayor Maurice B. “Mo” Hill Jr. said the system was meant for private tragedies like what happened last year at nearby South Seaside Park, where 19-year-old lifeguard Keith Pinto, of Toms River, was killed by a lightning strike while on duty.
Seven other people, including three other Berkeley Township lifeguards, were also injured in the strike, officials said at the time. Witnesses said the storm that day came on suddenly, with little warning to those on the beach.
Pinto, who had worked as a lifeguard at White Sands Beach in Berkeley for several years, graduated in 2020 from Toms River High School North, as you can see in the video above.
Hill said he saw a lightning warning system at the annual League of Municipalities convention in Atlantic City and suggested the township consider purchasing one.
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“I think it’s money well spent,” Hill said. He said sirens can be heard up to a mile away.
Toms River has similar warning sirens at the township-owned Bey Lea Golf Course, the mayor said.
Neighboring Brick also installs a lightning detection system on the waterfront; it should be in place by July. Warning systems should also help rescuers clear beaches more easily as lightning strikes; Swimmers often resist leaving the sand when they can’t easily see signs of a developing storm, lifeguards said.
Berkeley administrator John Camera said the township had also committed to purchasing a similar system to install.
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Hill said members of riverside communities north of Toms River have approached the township asking for a similar system to be installed, but the mayor noted that the difference between those communities and Ortley Beach is that the beaches in the north ocean are private.
“I don’t know if we should be spending taxpayers’ money there,” he said of the beaches on the northern barrier island. “We’ll put it in Ortley Beach first and then we’ll see.”
Jean Mikle has covered Toms River and several other towns in Ocean County, and has been writing about local government and politics on the Jersey Shore for nearly 37 years. A finalist for the 2010 Pulitzer Prize in Public Service, she is also passionate about the Shore’s historic music scene. Contact her: @jeanmikle, [email protected]