N.J. Storm Clean Up Requires Lots of Work, Money

Wed February 24, 2016 - Northeast Edition
Kathy Matheson and Bruce Shipkowski - ASSOCIATED PRESS

Officials warned it will take a lot of work and a lot of money to repair flood damage and beach erosion.
Officials warned it will take a lot of work and a lot of money to repair flood damage and beach erosion.

TOMS RIVER, N.J. (AP) Residents and business owners in southern New Jersey are cleaning up the major mess caused by flooding that was spawned by a monster weekend storm on Jan. 22 to 23. Officials warned it will take a lot of work and a lot of money to repair flood damage and beach erosion.

North Wildwood Mayor Patrick Rosenello told NJ.com that the town's dune system suffered major damage and was “severely compromised” by the storm. He said contractors were using heavy equipment to start filling breaches.

Based on past experience, Rosenello estimated dune damage alone could run as high as $10 million locally. He said in a statement that the state has offered “any assistance we need to deal with the issues we have following flooding like this.”

Republican Gov. Chris Christie has said the flooding that hit the region was not as bad as it could have been. He reiterated that stand later, saying “there is no residual flooding damage.”

But at least one state lawmaker has a different view.

State Sen. Jeff Van Drew, a Democrat who represents Cape May and Cumberland counties, asked the governor on Monday to seek a federal disaster declaration for those areas, citing the reported flood damage.

Christie said that the state is assessing the damage to see if it meets the required minimum to apply for such relief.

Meanwhile, Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno and state Environmental Protection Department Commissioner Bob Martin toured several coastal sites to get a firsthand look at the erosion and other damage from the weekend storm.

“We're moving ahead with assessing things, we're moving ahead with helping people, we're moving ahead to figure out how to replenish the beaches,” Guadagno said.

The beach erosion mostly occurred from Monmouth County down to Cape May County, with the damage getting worse the farther south you traveled. And in Harvey Cedars, a community on Long Beach Island, police were warning people about a significant dune drop off at 68th Street, saying it could be a health risk.

Martin said the Army Corps of Engineers was already doing an assessment of the state's coast, noting that state officials have already told corps officials that they will be seeking funds to replenish beaches and complete other needed work.

“That's what we typically do, and this is just another nor'easter,” Martin said. “After it, we get more money, we put more sand back, we protect the coastline. That's what we do.”

Paul Jeffrey, president of the Ortley Beach Voters and Taxpayers Association, said the Army Corps has promised to do a major beach and dune replenishment project in the Toms River community.

“That is what will provide protection. In the meantime, we're sitting on pins and needles until that project is completed,” he said.