It’s the dirty little secret of storms at the Jersey shore and many other coastal communities: Some of the worst flooding can come not from ocean waves crashing ashore on beaches, but from the steady, stealthy rise of water from back bays.
New Jersey and the federal government are considering potential fixes for this lesser-known but equally dangerous category of flooding that was responsible for tremendous damage during Superstorm Sandy, as well as in much lesser storms.
They will host a meeting Dec. 1 at Stockton University in Galloway to seek public input. Potential solutions include tide gates, levees, flood walls and drainage improvements.
“We recognize that protection of back bay and other tidal areas is not going to be a one-size-fits-all proposition, and that, in fact, multiple integrated strategies may be most appropriate in any given community or adjoining communities,” said David Rosenblatt, assistant commissioner with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.
Chuck Appleby, whose Seaside Park home was wrecked by bayside flooding after Sandy, has plenty of suggestions.
“You need a sustainable system that can endure for years,” he said. “Just putting hard bulkheading isn’t the solution.”
Appleby said areas near waterways need to focus on keeping rainwater from running off into bays or rivers. He suggests requiring developers to construction retention basins next to parking lots, ripping up some paved areas and using porous soil and natural plants to absorb water, and elevating roadways.
“You’re talking about a few inches that can make the difference between being in the water and not in the water, particularly when we’re trying to get out of town during a storm,” he said.