By Lauren Wanko
Sandy battered shore communities up and down the Jersey coast. Boardwalk and beach huts were torn to pieces. Ocean front homes were ripped from their foundations. But in Bradley Beach, the boardwalk is largely intact.
“We’re probably the only town where you can walk on the boardwalk right now,” said Richard Bianchi, Jr., Operating Supervisor for Bradley Beach Public Works.
Bradley Beach Operating Supervisor Rich Bianchi credits the 15 x 25 foot sand dunes. Built in 1996, the dunes stretched across the beach until Sandy made landfall. Bianchi says 20,000 Christmas trees planted in the sand dunes gave the beach community even more protection.
“Just the rooting system weaved itself through the trees which caused almost like a concrete wall for the hurricane that came through,” said Biachi.
The buildings along the boardwalk are also intact. The Bradley Beach mayor says the homes along Ocean Avenue suffered minimal damage. The sand dunes were just 75 to 100 feet away from many properties.
Bianchi said that “a lot of people that live on the beachfront complained about the height of them and what we could do to lower them. Now, we’re getting praise for it.”
Bradley Beach resident Steve Lozowick lives across the street from the ocean. He said, “There’s little doubt in my mind especially after living here for 30 years and sustaining several big storms, particularly 1992, that the dunes saved the structure of this building.”
Lozowick stayed in his condo through the storm and watched as Sandy destroyed the boardwalk in neighboring Avon. The storm washed away the boardwalk in Belmar and totaled their restrooms and beach huts. Bianchi says the nearby devastation serves as a reminder of the benefits of sand dunes in communities throughout the state.
In Bradley Beach, equipment operators work 12-hour days, 7 days a week to ensure the beach is ready by spring time.
“We are excavating all of the sand that was washed out from the storm,” said Bianchi. “We are excavating down 8 feet and we are pushing it out and … 200,000 cubic yards of sand is going to be shifted and put back out on the beach.”
Bianchi says Sandy caused about $5.5 million dollars worth of damage in Bradley Beach. They plan to rebuild their dunes in January.