LONG BEACH TOWNSHIP — Moving at a pace that has impressed beachbuilding experts, municipal workers have removed more than 1 million cubic yards of sand from township streets and put it back on badly eroded beaches.
The approach could hardly be described as high-tech, relying instead on manpower, bulldozers, front-end loaders and dump trucks, but it has proved effective. Since Hurricane Sandy pummeled Long Beach Island on Oct. 29, the amount of sand moved rivals that of some of the local beachfill projects that have taken months to complete.
“And that’s a real number. There was a lot of sand taken off those beaches, and we’ve got to get it back out there,” Mayor Joseph Mancini said.
About half of the sand that’s been scraped up from township streets and removed from private properties has gone to the southern end of the township in the Holgate section, one of the beaches ravaged by Sandy. The rest is on township beaches along 12 miles of 18-mile-long Long Beach Island.
Mancini said the crews — municipal workers and private contractors hired by the township — have been working at a feverish pace with about 40 pieces of heavy equipment bulldozing the sand, which the storm piled as high as snowdrifts on some streets, barricading homes and making streets impassable.
The pace has impressed the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, a spokesman said.
“We had heard a lot of sand was lost from the beaches, but that’s pretty impressive that they’re moving it that quickly,” corps spokesman Stephen Rochette said Friday. “With this storm having been so historic, pushing the sand back onto the island, we just haven’t seen anything quite like that.”
Township officials said they need residents’ help to get the rest of the sand back to the beaches.
Residents who are removing sand from their properties are asked to take it to township-designated sites to be recovered, officials said.
Only “clean and pristine sand,” with no debris in it, should be taken to those sites, according to a notice from the Long Beach Island Joint Emergency Operations Centers.
“The problem is some contractors are just scooping up sand, and there are brick pavers in it, tree limbs and gravel, and we can’t put that back out on the beach,” Mancini said.
Island residents have become familiar with the sight of beach projects, particularly in recent years.
In June, contractors completed a $16.7 million beachfill headed by the Army Corps in the Brant Beach section of Long Beach Township, where 1.2 million cubic yards of sand were pumped ashore onto beaches from 31st through 57th streets. That project took about three months.
In 2010, a $25 million beachfill was completed in Harvey Cedars, where 2.7 million cubic yards of sand were pumped ashore.
And in 2006, 880,000 cubic yards of sand were placed on beaches in Surf City that corps officials said equaled enough material to build a 438-foot-high dune across a football field.
The corps is currently completing measurements on beaches along the coast to determine how much sand has been lost, Rochette said.
Just days before a northeaster struck the region the week after Sandy, the corps completed a mission assignment from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to deliver 35,000 tons of sand to municipalities on Long Beach Island, Rochette said. The sand was trucked into Surf City, Harvey Cedars and Brant Beach to build up the dunes.
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