November 20, 2012

Building up beaches paid off for N.J. towns

Superstorm Sandy did far less damage in areas that made use of federal money ahead of time.

Wayne Parry / The Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

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A bulldozer pushes piles of sand on the Ocean Grove, N.J., beach in front of its storm-buckled boardwalk and damaged fishing pier last week.

The Associated Press

Farrell and others have been documenting post-Sandy erosion; so far, they're about three-quarters finished with the study, an early version of which has been sent to Gov. Chris Christie's office but not made public.

Farrell said the survey found the average beach's sand loss was 30 to 40 feet. But some lost five times that amount. Mantoloking, one of the hardest-hit communities, lost 150 feet of beach, he said.

The U.S. Geological Survey said Sandy caused "extreme and often catastrophic erosion" and flooding in places like Mantoloking. The group's before-and-after photos show that a part of Long Branch appears to have lost three-quarters of its beach. Seaside Heights -- where MTV's popular reality show "Jersey Shore" is filmed -- looks to have lost about 80 percent of its sand, and Brigantine about 90 percent.

"Sandy rapidly displaced massive quantities of sand in a capacity that visibly changed the landscape," the survey wrote in a report.

In contrast, places with recently beefed-up beaches including Avalon, Stone Harbor, Cape May and the central part of Ocean City came through the storm with comparatively little property damage, he said.

How big the beaches are -- or whether there is a beach at all to go to -- is a crucial question that must be resolved well before the tourist season starts next Memorial Day. The Jersey shore is the economic engine that powers the state's $35.5 billion tourism industry.

Sea Bright, the state's narrowest barrier island, was decimated by Sandy, pummeled by waves from the ocean and flooding from the Shrewsbury River. Sea Bright, Bradley Beach, Ocean Grove and other towns have pushed huge piles of sand into the center of their beaches, to be spread around and used to shore up gaps the storm exposed.

 

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