Local Officials Want State to Address Barnegat Bay Flooding Concerns

Freeholders scheduled to speak with state environmental officials Friday

It seemed like a routine storm. Rain was steady — perhaps heavy at times — but it didn't seem like the precipitation last Wednesday would cause significant flooding. 

But it did. Areas battered by Hurricane Sandy, like portions of Silverton and East Dover, once again were under water. 

"A full moon and heavy rain — there shouldn't be flooding like that," Silverton resident Stacy Buono told the Township Council this week. 

Council President George Wittmann said that reports state 1 million cubic yards of sand were deposited in the Barnegat Bay as a result of Hurricane Sandy. That extra sand could be impacting the water table, leading to increased flooding potential. 

"We want the [state Department of Environmental Protection] to look at that and determine what happened," Wittmann said. "They have flood gauges and water gauges in the bay. We want them to examine that and see what the real problem is."

Council Vice President Maria Maruca said that she attended the Ocean County Freeholder's meeting this week where the issue was discussed.

"They will be bringing these concerns, because Toms River isn't the only town. We're seeing this flooding up and down the coast of New Jersey into New York and Long Island," she said. 

Freeholder Director John P. Kelly on Wednesday said he and County Administrator Carl Block have a conference call scheduled with Bob Martin, commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Protection, on getting the issue of debris in Barnegat Bay addressed. In addition to flooding concerns, boating safety is also a factor. 

"It is imperative that agencies like the Army Corps of Engineers and the state Department of Environmental Protection work in concert to make sure Barnegat Bay is safe for boaters when the warm weather rolls around this year," Kelly said.

The freeholders have been urging action to clean up debris that Sandy washed into the bay, which is believed to include sunken boats, personal watercraft, parts of homes and untold amounts of household items, since November.

Toms River Mayor Thomas Kelaher sent a letter to Martin on Dec. 31, urging action to help protect property owners who are being flooded while attempting to repair their damaged homes. 

"Our residents are wondering if this is the “new normal” and are wondering what they should do with respect to the rehabilitation of their homes," Kelaher writes.

"The uncertainty is already delaying our recovery efforts," he continues.

Whatever the solution is, Wittmann said that township officials will request that the state work quickly to remedy the situation. 

"If it's dredging, we want that expedited," he said, while acknowledging that the problem likely will not be fixed for some time. "But it's not something that's going to happen in the next couple of months, unfortunately."

"Everybody is well aware of it," Maruca said. "Hopefully we'll have a plan to address that flooding issue."

stacy buono January 04, 2013 at 05:26 PM
sad to see that this article mentions half a sentence from me and nothing from the resident who got up and told the council during the meeting that she has no choice but to give the bank her keys. Not surprised we walked away with no timeline or info we didn't already have. Would love to know what residents can do to reinforce how serious this is in addition to ONE letter written by our mayor.
YouthPastor January 04, 2013 at 05:40 PM
Thank God they are looking itno the recurring flooding issue. As someone who lives in Silverton, it is scary everytime they mention just a common storm now. Let's hope they deal with this quickly.
George January 04, 2013 at 10:45 PM
For every million-dollar oceanfront home with a VIEW (because the owner refuses to sign an easement for beach replenishment and dune-building), HUNDREDS of other homes get flooded, including mine on the mainland in Silverton, near the bay. It's time to use eminent domain for those easements, because their view is NOT more important than my safety and my home. Please send e-mails to the lackadaisical mayor, the county politicians and Gov. Christie. This high water every time there's a little rain has got to be fixed!
Lisa Saez January 06, 2013 at 04:17 AM
I am happy to see our reps are addressing this concern. It will be a long haul and it is good to know they are bringing up our concerns


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