By Lauren Wanko
Frustrated Seaside Heights residents are fed up with flooding.
“Yesterday water went out halfway through to the street on this side and halfway from that side,” said Bill Burt of Seaside Heights.
High water brings bad memories surging back. And some locals say routine flooding has gotten worse since Sandy.
“A lot of issues with the flooding. Now there are places five blocks away that have never flooded before and are now full of water. People can’t get out of their driveways,” said Ryan’s Deli Chef Brooklyn Adams.
“There are about five or six blocks that have a foot of water right now and once the bay starts going to down, the water will go down eventually,” said Burt Hibell Office of Emergency Management.
“I’d like to see the storm drains get cleared out a little because it’s probably about a foot and a half of water to get out,” said Burt.
Residents say catch basins are still clogged with storm debris and some insist the reconstruction of Route 35, which includes rebuilding the highway and drainage system, is making the flooding issues worse.
“We didn’t have this much until this summer, until they started doing this so I don’t know if they blocked off some of the drainage going into the bay yet,” Burt said.
“They’re saying what used to be Restore the Shore is Detour the Shore, no one wants to come here,” said Adams.
The NJDOT says the drainage systems were severely damaged by Superstorm Sandy. The reconstruction of Route 35 isn’t contributing to the current flooding issues and the department says residents should see significant improvements after the infrastructure work is completed.
“It’s really, really harmed the businesses. While it’s a good thing and a necessary thing in the long run, it will benefit everyone, it really, really hurt the local businesses,” said Pastor Al Spangeler.
Employees at Ryan’s Deli worry about the local lunch spot.
“The cones, the detours, it’s a total mess. There’s no one here. This business is suffering immensely,” Adams said.
Pipe-layer Lee Polson thinks the construction work is giving the community a much needed boost.
“I think what they’re doing is fabulous. It’s keeping a lot of people at work, union brothers like myself are working. It’s good for the economy,” Polson said.
Any weather issue is especially disheartening for some locals. The Ocean County community is still recovering from the devastating superstorm and fire that wiped out portions of the newly rebuilt boardwalk.
“It’s sad to come here and see everything burnt and down and just not up and happy the way it used to be,” said Kayla Donnelly.
With weather conditions like today — before winter’s even officially begun — residents are bracing for the worst.