Beach 'prisms' installed in Ocean Gate to prevent future flooding post-Sandy

Ocean Gate is the first place in New Jersey installing what are known as "beach prisms," which are made of concrete and have holes cut through them. (12/3/13)

OCEAN GATE - Many shore towns have been building dunes and rock walls to protect beaches and properties since Sandy, but one community in Ocean County is trying something different.

Ocean Gate is the first place in New Jersey installing what are known as "beach prisms," which are made of concrete and have holes cut through them.

Larry and Jean McDowell live along the Toms River in Ocean Gate where 35 prisms are being installed in shallow water. Their home was flooded during Sandy and they hope these barriers will help prevent future flooding and keep their new boardwalk intact.

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"It's important that we try to take some steps," says Larry McDowell.

The prisms are 4 feet high and built to allow water to flow back and forth through them, but keep the sand on just one side.

"When the wind kicks up and the waves kick up, that's when the beach prism will stop that wave action right away," says Jay McKenna, of Smith Midland Company. "And anything held in suspension in the water like sand will settle out."

Mayor Paul Kennedy says it should reduce beach erosion. "It will stop some of it," he says. "Yeah, it will create a beach. But if there is a surge of 4 feet like during Sandy, it's going to go over this. But the normal flooding that we do have in this area, it should prevent a lot of that."

Kennedy says no one thing can solve the problem, but he says the prisms are certainly a part of the equation. The cost in Ocean Gate for the first 35 prisms is about $80,000. The mayor says it's a fraction of the price of some other options.

Prisms are being used in other parts of the country, such as around Lake Erie and the Chesapeake Bay. If successful, two other areas along the Toms River in Ocean Gate will have additional prisms installed next year.
 

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