Sandy Leaves NJ Shore More Vulnerable To Flooding

By Phil Gregory, WBGO News
December 26, 2012

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RIdges of sand put on beach by work crews in Point Pleasant Beach (photo by Phil Gregory)

 The windy storm pelting the Jersey Shore right now poses more of a flood threat than it normally might.  Why?  Hurricane Sandy weakened the defenses of coast and bay areas.
 Jon Miller is a professor of coastal engineering at Stevens Institute of Technology. He says the hurricane removed a lot of sand from the beaches. That makes the oceanfront more vulnerable during the winter storm season.

 “Communities are doing their best to get the sand back onto the beaches, and they’re screening it and typically piling it up into large piles where the sand dunes used to be. That sand is kind of the last line of defense and is more vulnerable than a natural  dune would be. The real concern is whether that gets eroded or not in the nor’easters."

 Stewart Farrell is director of the Coastal Research Center at Richard Stockton College.  He says those big ridges of sand might not hold up in a really intense winter storm.

 “That type of storm will probably cut through in a number of places. These ridges are discontinuous. Some of them are higher than others, and they are built with what was available not to any particular design that was uniform. They’re smaller. They’re lower. The sand is just a loose pile of material.”

Miller cites another concern:  All the sand that the storm surge from Sandy deposited into back bays will also make some bayside areas more prone to flooding.

“The water is just not going to move around the same way that it used to. So there’s going to be perhaps more areas that used to be sheltered that are going to be more open and more subjected to some wave activity, and there will be other areas that are going to be more protected. It’s really going to depend on how the sand has moved and which specific areas it has moved into.”


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