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Site Postponed Renovations to Provide Assistance to Displaced Local Residents during Hurricane Sandy
MANAHAWKIN – Highlighting the recovery and rebuilding of social programs in Ocean County, Department of Human Services’ Deputy Commissioner Lowell Arye today toured today toured the Southern Service Center, located on the corners of Route 9 and 72 in Manahawkin. The location served as a hub of activity for Ocean County residents following Hurricane Sandy and it soon will be home to a newly renovated senior nutrition site. 
“It is amazing to see the work that has been done here to serve the community,” said Deputy Commissioner Arye. “Despite incredible challenges, the Ocean County Office of Senior Services has pushed to complete this project and provide much needed support to senior residents, many of whom were displaced and experienced losses because of the storm.”

Ocean County opened the Center in May 2011. Since that time, Veteran's Services, the Clerk’s Office and the County Surrogate have shared the space. In addition, there are social and support services including the satellite location for the Long Beach Island Senior Services and Outreach and Adult Social Day Care.

The site works well for programs and services for several reasons including accessibility to public and local transportation, the proximity to major corridors, and adequate parking,” said Ocean County Freeholder Director Jack Kelly. “Since the storm, this center has acted as a focal point for help. It certainly has lived up to its name as a true service center.”

 “We work very hard to serve our residents – especially during this period of recovery and rebuilding,” said Ocean County Freeholder Joseph H. Vicari, Chairman of Senior Services. “We’re incredibly pleased that this facility allows us so many options to outreach people.”

In Fall of 2012, the county began to refurbish the area set aside for a nutrition site but was interrupted by Hurricane Sandy. Instead, the Center became a crucial location in the county’s efforts to assist residents in the storm’s aftermath. The National Guard was housed at the facility for several weeks and LBI-based food pantry, the St. Francis Center, some counseling services and the home delivered meal program relocated there due to damage at their sites.

When the National Guard moved out, the hall became a staging area for Thanksgiving baskets, then workers from the Ocean County Board of Social Services moved in to accommodate individuals eligible for the Disaster SNAP program, after which the hall became a regional Disaster Recovery Center.

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