After the Storm: Flooding, Some Beach Erosion Reported

Mar 07, 2018
Photo by: Jack Reynolds

While Long Beach Island avoided a significant wallop from the recent nor’easter, it left behind rising waters in some of the most flood-prone areas compounded by the full moon, strong winds and a lingering storm system.

“The duration was longer,” Ship Bottom Councilman Joe Valyo, also the borough’s emergency management coordinator, said earlier this week. “After the high tide, the bay was still high. It didn’t have time to drain out.”

On Sunday, two days after the storm dumped snow and substantial flooding in parts of the Northeast, Long Beach Boulevard, from 30th to 25th streets in Ship Bottom, was flooded with at least a foot of water. The Boulevard was dry for a few blocks and then flood waters made the road nearly impassable before opening up again.

“It occurs when we have a nor’easter,” Valyo said. “The water builds up and two days later the bay is full, and we have flooding.”

Still, he classified the flooding as “normal flooding” for the gateway community, which often sees that section of the borough flood – even on sunny days. Ocean County engineers are looking to install a pump station in the area to help alleviate flooding along that portion of the Boulevard. Currently, water comes in more quickly than it recedes, causing the flooding. Ship Bottom officials had addressed the flooding issue by installing tie valves, which allow the water to flow in only one direction. The valves are maintained annually and inspected every six months to ensure they work properly. Still, water can become trapped in the pipes for a period of time and then pushed out.

“Thank God it wasn’t as bad as advertised, but it did show us the severe bottlenecks on Long Beach Boulevard” during the moderate flooding, Long Beach Township Mayor Joseph Mancini said at Monday’s Board of Commissioners meeting. “We’re lucky to have Ocean Boulevard, Beach and Atlantic avenues, but if you were heading north towards the Causeway and had to turn down 31st Street at the end of Ocean Boulevard, there was at least a foot of water for four to five blocks.”

Township police sent out Nixle alerts prior to and throughout the weekend, including one that read, “Long Beach Boulevard will be flooding during high tides throughout the storm. Please avoid flood waters as much as possible.”

Mancini said he and the commissioners expect to meet with the county again this week to discuss raising sections of the Boulevard to help mitigate the flood waters. Township officials, along with their Ship Bottom counterparts, petitioned county engineers more than a year ago to raise the crest of the Boulevard so the middle lanes remain passable during flooding.

“Long Beach Island is unique – there is only one way on and one way off,” Valyo said, noting keeping the Boulevard accessible throughout a flood event is a public safety issue.

Flooding was also an issue in Beach Haven, where officials sent out alerts warning drivers of the flood waters on Bay Avenue, instructing them to use Beach Avenue, where the roads were clear.

“The flooding got pretty crazy over the weekend during the high-tide cycles,” said Sherry Mason, borough manager. The flooding improved by Monday.

Chris Carson, Beach Haven public works superintendent, reported beach erosion in several spots. Beach erosion was also observed in Harvey Cedars, where the wind gusts measured 62 miles per hour Friday afternoon, Police Chief Robert Burnaford said.

“Thankfully, nobody lost power,” he said. “We posted warnings and updates on our social media pages. We also made sure to remind contractors to properly secure their Dumpsters because wind like that could blow construction debris all over streets and yards.”

On the mainland, Barnegat Police Chief Keith Germain said the municipality was “unscathed. There was flooding along Bayshore Drive, which was expected.”

Germain said there was a brief, isolated power outage in the Lower Shore Road area of the township.

Whether local communities will remain as lucky with the nor’easter expected this week remains to be seen, according to Valerie Meloa, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

“Each storm is different and each area is different, so it makes predicting the impact for any area difficult,” she said Monday. “It will vary across the Northeast.”

What could remain consistent, though, is coastal flooding, even though this week’s storm is nearly a week removed from the full moon cycle, she said.

“During a full moon, the waters don’t have to rise as much to cause flooding,” Meloa said, noting ocean waters drain more quickly than back-bay waters. How quickly bay water returns to normal levels depends on how many exits it has to the ocean, she said.

There are two full moon cycles this month, Meola noted. The second is March 31.

— Gina. G. Scala, Eric Englund and Juliet Kaszas-Hoch

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