Jersey Shore communities brace for weekend coastal storm with potential flooding, beach erosion

Towns like Toms River and North Wildwood will likely experience additional beach erosion following a damaging series of fall and winter storms.

Jim Murdoch

Mar 22, 2024, 9:44 PM

Updated 120 days ago


Another coastal storm promises to bring rain, wind and the potential for coastal flooding to New Jersey even after the storm moves away.
Towns like Toms River and North Wildwood will likely experience additional beach erosion following a damaging series of fall and winter storms.
New video shows what a normal high tide looks like in North Wildwood where ocean waves have breached a dune, threatening businesses and infrastructure.
"We don't have a bulkhead and the dunes over the last couple months have basically just wiped away," said North Wildwood Mayor Patrick Rosenello.
"To have a situation like this occurring at the Jersey Shore and unfortunately to have the [New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection] just absent from the situation at all, not offering any help, not being on site, not doing anything - to me, quite frankly, is really unconscionable," he said.
Cliffs 10 to 12 feet high remain in Ortley Beach. Toms River Township Mayor Dan Rodrick announced his plan Friday to move forward with emergency repairs.
The town will foot the $350,000 emergency sand replenishment bill which will be completed in time for Memorial Day weekend, according to the mayor.
Much larger repairs by the Army Corps of Engineers could start as soon as the summer or fall, as contracts in the affected areas from Manasquan Inlet south to Absecon Island are expected over the next two to three months.
But communities like North Wildwood and Ortley Beach will once again be on edge as another storm passes through. Even higher tides are predicted early next week with an offshore ocean storm lining up with Monday's full moon.
"We would be happy to have a dredge offshore over the course of the summer to get a beach. Unfortunately, our Army Corps project at the earliest isn’t until mid-2025," said Rosenello.
A spokesperson for the DEP wrote in a statement, “As outlined in various correspondence and official permit and enforcement actions with North Wildwood, the area between 12.5th and 15th Avenue is afforded effective protection by the existing established, vegetated dune system. For the Department to consider the need for structural shore protection within this area, detailed information demonstrating that the use of non-structural methods are not feasible or practicable and that the installation of structural shore protection would not cause adverse impact to the beach and dune system is needed. In addition to this guidance, the Department has suggested to NWW that they consider the placement of rock at the northeastern terminus of the bulkhead at 15th Avenue. Rock in this area will absorb wave energy and reduce the potential for wave refraction/erosion of the dune areas immediately to the north. The Department also advised that introducing sand back into the littoral system would facilitate the gradual feeding of specific erosional areas along NWW’s oceanfront.
The Coastal Zone Management Rules (N.J.A.C. 7:7) require that shore protection measures be designed in a manner that reduces the impact to the overall beach and dune system, and that non-structural shore protection be demonstrated to be infeasible before considering structural shore protection alternatives. Dunes and dune vegetation provide substantial protection from storm-induced erosion. Currently, from 15th Avenue north to the area between 12th and 13th Avenue, there is an established, functioning vegetated dune system. Sand naturally transfers throughout the season from one area to another in a coastal system; however, when the sand supply is interrupted by the installation of a hard structure such as a bulkhead, this natural ebb and flow is disrupted. Thus, the Department must consider the impact a length of bulkhead installed in one location might have on sand transfer or sand availability on other areas of the beach.”

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