By Lauren Wanko
In Belmar, Silver Lake has transformed into another reminder of Sandy’s fury. The lake is nearly empty. The vegetation and running path were ripped up by the storm, replaced now by mountains of mud. But during the storm, the lake overflowed.
The lake is already beginning to fill naturally, but at the peak of the storm, 60 percent of Belmar was underwater. The borough used nine different pumps to pump out 60,000 gallons of water a minute from the town back into the Atlantic Ocean. It took six days before they drained all the water that flooded the seaside community.
Belmar Mayor Matthew Doherty said the strategy was to put the pipes into the lake so as to collect water into the lake from throughout the town to drain. “We kept pumping that water out so it lowered the ground water and it lowered the lake water until we were able to get all the water out of town and finally clean out the debris from Hurricane Sandy,” he explained.
Belmar resident Victoria DiLorenzo, who lives across the street from Sliver Lake, said “all of a sudden, the water from across the lake there was coming through the side streets up onto the lake and then it just started coming right at us.”
DiLorenzo had to be rescued. First responders arrived at her home in kayaks. Next door, flood waters inundated Dollie Hsu’s garage and basement. She now peers out onto the lake in disbelief, saying “it’s very sad. That’s the only word I can describe it … it’s like post-apocalyptic that what it feels like.
Belmar resident Steve Woelfer understands the feeling. “You walk around town and there’s just so many people wandering around town with post-traumatic stress syndrome,” he said. “It’s just crazy … we’re looking forward to it being better. ”
Belmar Mayor Matthew Doherty insists it will get better. The borough plans to increase the size of the lake so it can hold more water.
“The lakes and the boardwalk are such an intricate part of the character of our community,” Doherty said. “It’s the reason why people live here so it’s gotta get rebuilt and and repaired. Belmar will never be the same, the Jersey Shore will never be the same. Its important to have beach communities back in time for the summer.”
The mayor says that it includes Silver Lake. Crews will replant and rebuild before the summer tourism season. It’s something residents here say they’re counting on.