By Brenda Flanagan
“It was a bad nor’easter and it took our dunes away,” said Ortley Beach resident Pat DeFalco.
DeFalco says protective storm dunes did their job, but just barely. Only a thin escarpment of sand — with a 10-foot drop — remains standing after Saturday’s storm battered the beachfront. Waves ripped away the boardwalk steps. They’re vulnerable.
“You could see right under the boardwalk over here. You can actually see right through,” DeFalco said. “Should be all full of sand.”
“Last week, we spent three days with our bulldozers pushing sand onto the dunes to reinforce the existing dunes. That’s all gone. You have to understand it’s a stopgap temporary measure though, because the next time it happens, we’ll lose the sand again,” said Toms River Mayor Tom Kelaher.
“DEP’s coastal engineering’s up and down the entire coast, assessing. Army Corps’ also assessing the entire coastline to see what we need,” said NJDEP Commissioner Bob Martin.
New Jersey’s DEP commissioner and Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno toured the Jersey Shore today and noted widespread erosion from Ortley in Toms River, down into North Wildwood — a legacy of deeper damage done by Sandy.
“This stretch of northern Ocean County since Sandy is in a sand deficiency and we need the federal projects for the long-term solution. This is just a stopgap measure to provide what we can until the federal project comes through,” said NJDEP Bureau of Coastal Engineering Bill Dixon.
As two towns and several property owners continue fighting the Army Corps’ plans for a more permanent dune barrier, Martin’s looking to work around the holdouts.
“Our goal is to start this year on some segment of northern Ocean County. Maybe we can’t get all the towns going, given the lawsuits with Point Pleasant and Bay Head, but there’s a lot of properties we do have. And so we we plan to sit down in the next couple of weeks to talk about a potential plan to be able to start initially on that,” he said.
“We do need to start right away. We can’t wait for the outcome of any litigation, no matter who wins or loses,” Guadagno said.
Meanwhile, Toms River borrowed $1 million from the DEP to buy sand last year. The mayor says they’ve spent about half of that already. And it’s not even February.
“I just can’t believe this. This is just unbelievable. I hope they do something permanent this time,” said Jackie Conlan of Verona.
Mayor Kelaher says the town is working quickly to dump more sand and build more dunes. Another temporary barrier against the next storm.