By DONALD WITTKOWSKI
With the destructive tropical storms Fay and Isaias still fresh in their memories, Sea Isle City officials feared that the low-lying island would get walloped again by Elsa.
“This was the third tropical storm in the last year. Enough is enough,” said Mike Jargowsky, Sea Isle’s coordinator of emergency management.
But unlike the flooding and damaging winds from Fay in July 2020 and then again from Isaias in August 2020, Tropical Storm Elsa fortunately did not pack the same punch when it arrived Thursday night and lingered until Friday morning.
The storm’s arrival at low tide kept street flooding to a minimum and the most powerful winds seem to stay offshore instead of wreaking havoc over land, Jargowsky explained.
“Most of the rain came at the lowest point of the low tide,” he said. “The worst of the winds stayed out over the ocean, so we got a break there.”
Sustained wind speeds were in the teens and included gusts in the 30 mph range. The wind station at 44th Street recorded a gust of 43 mph, the highest speed that Jargowsky saw for Sea Isle.
Jargowsky estimated that the storm dropped a little more than 2 inches of rain. The initial forecast called for between 2 and 4 inches of rainfall at the shore.
“Other than the rain, I don’t think we had any issues,” city spokeswoman Katherine Custer said of the apparent lack of damage throughout Sea Isle.
Custer also said city officials were glad that residents and visitors heeded the warnings to move their cars and trucks out of flood-prone areas before the storm arrived. The library parking lot that sits up high overlooking 48th Street and Central Avenue was one place where people took their vehicles to protect them from possible flooding.
“We are happy that people took precautions and moved their cars when they could,” Custer said.
Fay and Isaias caused some beach erosion in Sea Isle, but it appears that was not the case with Elsa because it did not generate any significant storm surge, Jargowsky said.
With Isaias, the storm churned up the ocean with rough surf and inundated some of the beaches with large pools of water in the midsection of town.
However, on Friday sunbathers were lounging on dry, powdery beaches that seemed largely untouched by Elsa. The sand dunes, the first line of defense against storms, appeared in excellent shape in the Townsends Inlet section in the south end of town.
Many beachgoers headed out into the ocean for a dip, although the waves appeared slightly choppy. Lifeguards posted yellow flags to warn swimmers that the surf was moderately rough.
Family members relaxing on Sea Isle’s 88th Street beach on a partly sunny Friday afternoon included Ellen Lopoten, her daughter, Emilia, her brother, Barry Lopoten, and his wife, Jan.
The Lopotens expressed relief that the storm wasn’t nearly as bad as had been expected.
“I heard very high winds and lots of rain at around 2 a.m. But it wasn’t much more than that,” said Ellen Lopoten, who owns a home on 88th Street.
Barry Lopoten, a resident of East Norriton, Pa., who is vacationing with his family in Sea Isle, characterized the storm as “nothing substantial.”
“The only thing that we had was a trash can that got blown over,” he said, laughing.