After the recent blizzard that hit New Jersey, the most powerful storm to make landfall in the state since Hurricane Sandy caused unprecedented damage in 2012, the lessons learned from Hurricane Sandy were brought back into focus in an article from the Herald News in Passaic County. Although the blizzard caused floods and knocked out power like Hurricane Sandy did, the strength of the storm was less while flooding along New Jersey’s southern shores was worse.
Activists, experts, and officials all agree that the recent snowstorm highlighted the effectiveness of resiliency projects built in the wake of Sandy, as well as drew attention to weaknesses that still persist. Several beaches have been widened, barriers have been built, and more resources exist to prepare for a high-magnitude storm, but many towns are still vulnerable as they await dune projects being held up by property owners who contest the proposed easements.
The resort towns south of Atlantic City, which were largely spared by Sandy, suffered some of the worst flooding as a result of the latest snowstorm, and flooding in certain areas reached heights of about 10 ½ feet above sea level. Nevertheless, city spokesman Doug Bergen claimed that two beach replenishment projects completed last year by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers greatly helped to mitigate potential damage, as well as a 3.5 mile long steel bulkhead installed after Sandy at a cost of $23.8 million that help up during the blizzard.
The major remaining issue however is the ad hoc construction of dunes. While some communities are awaiting completion of dune projects due to conflicts over easements, many communities are open to the idea of building dunes in advance of storms. Climate specialists believe that storms are expected to increase in frequency and intensity as sea levels rise, demonstrating the necessity for building dunes in addition to the bulkheads that are currently in place in several towns.