By Donald Wittkowski
More than a year in the making, Sea Isle City has completed a comprehensive study that is expected to include a short-term strategy as well as long-range plans to protect the barrier island from the fury of coastal storms.
The study has been given to City Council, but residents will not get a glimpse of the findings until a public presentation is scheduled. City Business Administrator George Savastano said it should be unveiled within the next 30 to 60 days.
“It’s something I look forward to discussing with the public,” Savastano told the five Council members during their Aug. 28 meeting.
Savastano did not reveal details of the study during the meeting, but characterized it as a “well-done document.”
Previously, city officials warned that it would take a huge amount of money to finance a comprehensive flooding plan, including the construction of better drainage systems, new pumping stations, dikes and road improvements. They have discussed pursuing county, state and federal grants to help with the cost.
Although city officials have indicated the study will focus on a long-term strategy, some flood-control measures are underway in Sea Isle or have already been completed, such as beach and dune replenishment projects and new road and drainage upgrades.
Like other Jersey Shore communities, Sea Isle was pummeled by Hurricane Sandy in October 2012 and the powerful coastal storm Jonas in January 2016. Flooding unleashed by those storms underscored Sea Isle’s need for even more measures to protect the community.
It is not unusual for residents and business owners to appear before Council to complain about flooding in their neighborhood, sometimes caused by only modest rainstorms, and demand that something be done to stop it.
The city has conducted a mapping program to identify stormwater facilities and drainage basins throughout the island as part of the flooding study.
Meanwhile, the city is preparing to begin construction in the fall on its very first pumping station to flush stormwater out of a flood-prone neighborhood at 38th Street and Sounds Avenue.
Earlier this year, the city completed the repaving of 38th Street from Central Avenue to Sounds Avenue, built a 4-foot-high rock wall along the sides of the road and upgraded the drainage system in the first steps to protect the bayfront neighborhood.
Sea Isle has also approved funding for a citywide early-warning system to keep residents and tourists away from flooded areas. It is billed as the largest project of its kind for any municipality in New Jersey.
As described during a presentation in May to City Council, the $160,000 flood-warning system would include 56 flashing road signs scattered throughout town in neighborhoods most vulnerable to stormwater.