Janet Babin, Economic Development Reporter, WNYC News
Janet Babin is a reporter at WNYC covering economic development.
A potential Nor'easter has New Jersey towns from Long Beach Island to Seabright, preparing for possible beach erosion, rain, snow, high winds and moderate to severe flooding. Some mayors are calling for voluntary evacuations.
In Toms River Township, officials have spent $1.6 million on sand replenishment.to shore up dunes. The work has intensified over the last few days in anticipation of this latest Nor'easter. Some private beach front property owners have refused to allow the township to add to the dunes, so town officials decided to build dunes on the street, behind the property owners on the beach.
“Behind them we built our own dunes in the street to match up and close the gap between the northern part and the southern part of our public beach dunes,” said Mayor Thomas Kelaher.
The new street dunes are more than 10 feet high and cover about 3 blocks on the ocean front.
“So that any water that comes through can hopefully be blocked,” added Kelaher.
Many towns are spooked because the storm comes on the anniversary of a big one in 1962.
“That was tremendous, the ocean broke through the barrier island,” said Kelaher.
In the town of Seabright, officials have closed off a 3-mile stretch of Ocean Avenue because of flooding.
“The water is coming up from the river side, not the ocean side,” said Read Murphy, Seabright’s OEM Coordinator.
The closure will only be in effect for high tide. While some towns are asking for voluntary evacuations, many coastal areas remain unpopulated since Sandy.
“There are approximately 6,000 homes on the barrier island that fall under the Toms River jurisdiction. All were either washed off their foundations, tipped over, or flooded. None of those homes escaped damage,” said Mayor Kelaher.
Kelaher said many can’t return to their homes in Ortley Beach because they still lack utilities or their homes were deemed unsafe.