The moist Jersey Shore town is pondering about fixing floods on “sunny days”

Bayhead, NJ (AP) — Jersey Shore’s elite but often underwater beach town decides it can’t wait for state and federal authorities to agree on an amendment and offers its own solution to the Back Bay floods. looking for.

Bayhead is researching options to prevent, or at least reduce, so-called “sunny day” floods caused by tides and rising sea levels, as well as large-scale storm-related floods.

New Jersey’s Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have proposed a huge $ 16 billion Plans to deal with back bay floods Along the coast. The plan relies on building entrance gates, barriers built across the center of some bays, and nearly 19,000 homes.

However, at the northernmost tip of Barnegat Bay, Bayhead is a wealthy Republican-led outpost that named the town, feeling the need to act earlier than 2030, and the earliest ambitious project to be built. May start.

A fairly unobtrusive storm that passed offshore at the end of October flooded Bayhead with what the inhabitants called the most severe flood since the 2012 Superstorm Sundi, which devastated the autonomous region. During the recent storm, water remained on the street for five days in some places.

“I couldn’t get home,” said 84-year-old Carol Tassini. It was the worst I’ve seen in a long time. “

Mayor Bill Curtis said the floods are part of life in Bayhead. But recent events are ringing the alarm.

“It’s getting worse, so it’s time for us to do something,” Curtis said. “We decided it was enough.”

A preliminary plan presented at a town hall meeting on Tuesday suggested a combination of short-term and long-term steps that the autonomous region could take. One recommendation is to install a lock in Scuditch, a narrow body of water connecting Barnegat Bay in the south and Lake Twilight in the north, with suggestions from state and federal plans.

The town is also considering building an earthen berm around the edge of the lake to prevent the lake’s water from spilling into the neighborhood during high tides and storms. The berm is covered with vegetation and trees, forming a kind of “living coastline” advocated by most environmentalists.

Rick McGoy, a member of Bayhead’s Environmental Committee, gave the presentation, saying that “nuisance floods” occur 12-18 times a year in town. Floods occur 6 to 7 times a year. But those frequencies will definitely rise, he added.

The town has not put a price tag on the repair plan, but authorities have warned that it will be important. Bayhead seeks initial funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for a more detailed investigation, and the mayor may be able to fund some work on its own, such as a soil dam around the lake. He said he imagined he couldn’t.

With an average home value of over $ 1.1 million, Bayhead is home to Republican tycoons, including Lawrence Busgate II, who was former Republican National Finance Chairman under President Reagan and President George HW Bush. ..

Former Governor Chris Christie has a summer villa here, near a home owned by Bon Jovi keyboard player and Broadway playwright David Bryan.

The town recognizes that climate change and rising sea levels are very real problems, McGoy said.

“Many people don’t believe in climate change, but situations around the world are causing climate change,” he told the audience. “The storm is more serious and you are getting stronger winds. It’s all contributing. The important thing is what you’re going to do about it.”

McGoy said Bayhead would need to rely on $ 16 billion in state and federal plans to prevent the “catastrophic” floods that occurred during Sundi.

Since November 2016, the Army Corps has been looking for ways to reduce or prevent floods along Back Bay in New Jersey and elsewhere. Governments in Massachusetts, California, Florida, and Maine are also addressing this issue.

Such floods caused great damage to the east coast during the Sundi, but more attention was paid to the damage caused by the ocean waves crashing at the beachfront.

In contrast, Back Bay floods are gradual and insidious, creeping into areas facing the bay and areas with tributaries, swelling with flood water and flooding homes and businesses.


Follow Wayne Parry on Twitter @WayneParryAC