Storm-battered NJ coast bracing for more potential damage
With federal money unlikely, a number of Jersey Shore towns are hoping Mother Nature keeps calm for a bit to allow for their battered beaches to recover from the three-day storm that rocked the Garden State late January into February.
Despite post-storm surveys by the Department of Environmental Protection that show major beach or dune erosion in nine towns, and moderate damage in another 18, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers believes the nor'easter won't qualify as an "extraordinary storm event" that can free up emergency aid for repairs.
"Certainly some towns do have the capacity to put some small amounts of sand on the beach — typically, that's more of a band-aid solution," said Jon Miller, research associate professor at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken.
The Army Corps said on Tuesday that any work that needs to be done between periodic cycles of restoration is the responsibility of state and local governments. The acting commissioner of the DEP wrote to the Army Corps on Monday asking for support to repair the hardest-hit parts of the shore, most of which are located in Ocean County.
Police in select towns have had to erect barriers near the edge of sand cliffs created by erosion. Major erosion was recorded in Bay Head, the Ortley Beach section of Toms River, Atlantic City, North Wildwood, and multiple parts of Long Beach Island, DEP said in its report.
"We saw a lot of beach access points actually destroyed on the ocean side because of the waves," said Tom Herrington, associate director of the Urban Coast Institute at Monmouth University in West Long Branch.
Much of the sand taken from the shore is expected to return in time following the storm, but the timeline depends on future storms.
"We're more worried about the short-term. If another storm comes along in the next few weeks while the beaches are eroded, they could see even more erosion and then more damage," Herrington said.
The Garden State is in an active, stormy weather pattern right now. Beyond a couple winter events through the end of the week, a possible coastal storm is forecasted for Sunday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.