BERKELEY – A lagoon community along the Toms River has seen flooding so bad that they often have to park several streets away and wade to get to their homes.
They’ve been asking for help from local officials. However, everyone agrees there are some serious issues and a short fix isn’t going to do the job.
The neighborhood is off Bayview Avenue. The intersection of Narragansette and Longport avenues is one of the main spots.
The area is low lying, so rainwater does tend to accumulate. But the residents have also said that the really bad flooding is saltwater, which means there’s something even more challenging going on. It also means that it can damage cars if you drive through it.
Longport Avenue resident Donna Amon said that the area was flooded for four days once. In one instance, she couldn’t get her car out to get her COVID-19 vaccination.
Beach Place resident Michelle Hawkins said that the pitch on three streets is such that the water runoff goes toward Narragansette.
“The water is flowing in waves down the street,” she said. “I know the water table’s rising. That’s a given.”
Vincent D’Elia said he grew up on Seabright Avenue. It used to be very rare to have any kind of flooding. But now, if there’s a celestial high tide or a tidal surge, the road gets filled up with saltwater.
“You can see water percolating up from the catch basins,” Longport resident John DiStefano said. This proves that the water is coming up through the ground rather than being rain.
What’s even worse is when the water lingers in the winter and freezes over, he said.
It’s also a strange situation because many of the residents impacted are Berkeley residents, and one of the flooding areas is the intersection in Ocean Gate. And these are county roads that are flooding. So, that means there are three jurisdictions involved. The Berkeley residents literally drive out of their streets, go through Ocean Gate and then back into Berkeley to get to Route 9. Their only way in or out is through the area that floods.
Remington & Vernick is the engineering company that services Berkeley and Ocean Gate, “so coordination of efforts between the two municipalities should be pretty easy,” Berkeley business administrator John Camera said.
The engineers have been at the site to look for possible solutions.
Ocean Gate Mayor Paul Kennedy said this has been an ongoing issue for many years. One problem is that most of the properties and the road are below sea level.
“And since Superstorm Sandy the water level has risen to make things even worse,” he said.
The intersection is between two Ocean County roads that are maintained by the county. “I have had huge success in getting the Ocean County Storm Water department to come and Jet Vac the pipes at least 4-6 times a year,” he said. “They fill up with sand constantly because of the open area on the beach and the high winds that blow the sand off the beach and onto the roadway.”
About nine years ago, there was a New Jersey Department of Transportation project there which included all new storm drains, piping, and a tide flex valve to help keep the water out of the pipes, along with new curbing and roadway, he said. This works some of the time, but high tides and the pipes filling with sand will compromise its effectiveness.
There is also an issue of Berkeley drivers speeding through the flooded area, he said. This creates wakes pushing saltwater onto Ocean Gate lawns, driveways, and garages.
“We had to create a no wake ordinance several years ago because of this situation,” he said. “There are those that have no respect and keep doing it. Eventually they will all be issued summons for speeding through the flooded intersection and creating wakes and causing damage.”
There is talk of elevating the roadways but everything is still at the evaluation stage, engineers and officials said.
At a recent Berkeley Township Council meeting, Councilman James Byrnes said that officials are working on the problem but asked for patience because they might have to go through the State Department of Environmental Protection which might take time.
He also noted that one house in the area had a sump pump in their back yard to deal with the issue.
Berkeley Mayor Carmen Amato said he has been talking to the Ocean Gate mayor and Councilman Ron Livingston, and they’ve all been working together. He said the county will clean the drains more frequently until a long-term solution is in place.
Shore areas are prone to flooding due to their location. However, this is becoming a more common occurrence in areas like the Normandy Beach section of Toms River and Brick. Some residents are reporting that areas are flooding frequently in recent years that never flooded before.