By Lauren Wanko
The sun’s rays beamed over the beach this morning, giving no indication of the impending storm. Against the scenic backdrop, Belmar’s bulldozers were pushing sand, building eight- to 10-foot dunes.
“We have a 1.3-mile dune that runs the entire length of the beach. First time we’ve ever had something like that and I can tell you the reason we’re able to have that type of protective barrier is because of all the reserves we received after Sandy,” said Belmar Mayor Matt Doherty.
Like more equipment and sand from the Army Corps beach replenishment project says Doherty. The Department of Public Works has been prepping for days.
“I can tell the residents and they can rest assured that we are better prepared for this storm than any storm that came our way before,” Doherty said.
Snow isn’t the concern. The bigger issue? Storm surge and flooding.
“We’re going to see beach erosion. That’s unfortunate, but we much prefer that then to have water breaching the dunes and coming over the boardwalk where we’re standing or flooding the homes,” Doherty said.
Brendan Read lives across the street from the ocean. He says the protective sand barrier makes him feel safer.
“It provides that protection against storm edge, against the waterfront coming in, into the beaches, boardwalk, on the streets,” he said.
Farther south in Toms River, the mayor says his main concern is the beach area, since it’s still not fully recovered from Sandy. Their DPW has been reinforcing the dunes for the past three days. In Brick Township officials are giving residents free sand bags, says the mayor. He’s concerned about homes flooding around the bay and lagoons. In Mantoloking, officials brought in 13 truckloads of sand earlier this week, says the police chief, which can be moved anywhere along the oceanfront to combat rising water.
In Shark River Hills, the river flooded homes during Sandy. Officials tell us they don’t expect the storm surge to be as significant, but they anticipate flooding Saturday and Sunday during high tides, which is why they’re recommending homeowners move their cars now and clean out storm drains to reduce street flooding.
The American Red Cross encourages everyone to make an emergency kit for each member of the family.
“Think about what you’re going to need in the next 24 hours and bring that with you,” said Communications Director Laura Steinmetz.
Along the coast, residents are trying to prepare their homes and fill their pantries.
“People coming in buying extra stuff, extra eggs, milk, bread,” said Cracker Barrel Owner Chris Cosmas.
“Last time I wasn’t prepared, so this time I hope I am prepared,” said Bradley Beach resident Louise.
Shore town officials say they feel just as ready.