LONG BEACH ISLAND – Last week saw heavy rains and some snowfall as Winter Storm Riley made its way through the area on March 2. On March 7, another winter storm battered the area with heavy winds, rain, and some snow, prompting coastal flooding advisories from the National Weather Service.
As always, when significant amounts of rain hit, Long Beach Island suffers serious flooding in major areas.
According to Ship Bottom Township Administrator Mark Pino, the 28th Street area in Ship Bottom is probably the lowest part of the island and always experiences major flooding.
Pino said that when the island floods, it cuts off a significant portion of the south end of the island. The south end of the island would be the towns from Ship Bottom down to Holgate, the southernmost municipality on the island.
Despite the consistent flooding issues, Pino noted that there isn’t too much the township has done or can do to fix it.
“We have been in talks with Ocean County for about 6-8 months,” he said. Ship Bottom hopes to work alongside the county to implement some sort of improvements to the area that could help with the flooding.
He noted that these changes could be either grading the roads differently or installing some sort of pump system. Pino was not certain of the exact measures that could be taken to help ease the flooding, and noted that this would be done by the County’s Engineering Department.
The way flooding is managed, he explained, is that the weather is closely monitored by the township’s Emergency Management Coordinator, Joseph Valyo. The amount or severity of the flooding the island sees is dependent on the weather and the tides, he noted.
“There is nowhere for the water to go,” said Pino.
When Ship Bottom and other vulnerable parts of the island experience heavy rains or coastal flooding, the water can come up through drains and over bulkheads to cause that flooding.
Valyo said that one of the definite plans in the works right now for Ship Bottom is the replacement of approximately four bulkheads in the township. Bids for the replacement of the bulkhead near 28th St. will be going out soon, he said.
In addition to this project, other potential fixes for the flooding are in the very early planning stages, he said. Ship Bottom Township hopes to work on replacing bulkheads in their jurisdiction, while the County will work on replacing some of those in their jurisdiction.
Valyo noted that some major roads, such as Long Beach Boulevard and Central Boulevard in Ship Bottom, are property of the county. So, any work done on those or in that area, falls under the jurisdiction of the County.
He also noted that the township and the County are working to possibly install a pump station near 28th St. to facilitate pumping water back out into the bay when flooding occurs. This is also in the very early stages, he added.
“It’s almost impossible to stop the flooding,” said Valyo, noting that most of the work done by the township is meant to inform residents and minimize water rise to the best of their ability.
“Preparation on our end is more or less to make people aware,” he explained.
Through Nixle, the township officials and police are able to keep residents informed. For example, on March 2, a Nixle alert for Beach Haven Crest notified residents that, “Long Beach Boulevard will be flooding during high tides throughout the storm. Please avoid flood waters as much as possible,” noting times for high tide throughout the weekend.
Pino noted that another way the township tried to keep residents prepared is by providing information in conjunction with Atlantic City Electric, in the event that the power fails.
Harvey Cedars Police released a Nixle alert on March 2, noting “You can report a power outage 24/7 by calling Atlantic City Electric at 1-800-833-7476 or by downloading their free mobile app. The mobile app also allows you to access their outage map and get time estimates for when the power will be restored.”
Although Pino is the administrator for Ship Bottom, he said that this is a similar process amongst all of the townships on the island.
“We might minimize the flooding, but it’s not going to get removed,” said Valyo.
On social media, residents and locals posted photos and videos showing the extent of the flooding throughout areas of the island. Some made mention that the consistent flooding on the island was perhaps worse than Superstorm Sandy. To this observation, Valyo responded, “The flooding was significant, but it was not worse than Sandy.”