Assessing Damage in Sea Isle City After Winter Storm

By Brenda Flanagan

Residents power washed the sand and mud off driveways and put soggy belongings out to the curb. Sea Isle City’s still cleaning up after Saturday’s storm when the back bay flooded homes.

“I looked out the window and there was just a river of ice just going down the street,” said Nate Steelman.

“A lot of high tide. This is like a river. Once it comes over the bulkhead it’s like four foot out here in the street,” said Mike McHale.

Silt covers the floor in John Pratt’s house.

How much did he lose? “Whatever got wet goes. Furniture and stuff. Everything,” Pratt said.

Residents say they’re grateful the Army Corps of Engineers finished building a storm barrier on the beach in November. But it took a real hit in terms of erosion.

A cavalcade of officials, including New Jersey’s two U.S. senators, joined local officials to tour storm damage in Sea Isle and other shore towns today. They applauded the Army Corps’ barrier.

“The ocean did not breach, which would’ve caused us much more damage. So the dunes and the beach replenishment did their job,” said Mayor Leonard Desiderio.

“We’ll see what the ultimate damage assessments are and to the extent that it rises to a level the governor, if he makes a decision to ask for an emergency declaration, we’re going to support it wholeheartedly,” said Sen. Robert Menendez.

They saw where Steve Tyman’s t-shirt shop caught fire and burned in downtown Sea Isle City, ironically in the middle of the storm.

“We survived Sandy. We came back after Sandy and now this. It’s very sad,” Tyman said.

The senators pledged help with a small business loan and offered comfort. Sen. Cory Booker took selfies and called Tyman’s son.

“Listen, I’m standing here with your dad. He’s an amazing man,” Booker said.

“I’m very impressed by the senators. Unfortunately the governor’s not here,” Tyman said.

Even though Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno toured the shore yesterday, Gov. Chris Christie’s decision to head back to New Hampshire and his presidential campaign continues to be a sore point here. One comment really got some people riled.

“I don’t know exactly what you expect me to do. You want me to down there with a mop?” Christie said.

What do residents expect him to be doing?

“Well I had a lot of respect for him, but I think I lost it after I heard that,” resident Bill Ferrelli said.

“The presidential race will wait. You have people with disasters here, that’s your main concern. Us here in New Jersey,” said Maggie Farley.

But, she says, the town’s resilient, and folks here expect to clean up after storms.