Tuesday’s nor’easter didn’t bring snow to South Jersey, but most shore towns experienced some beach erosion.
Officials have started assessing the damage, which came just about 75 days before Memorial Day and the unofficial start of the tourism season. Some towns are relying on beach replenishment projects to fix their dunes — and hoping no more coastal storms hit the area.
“I’m doing my dance,” said Angelo DeMaio, Atlantic City’s emergency management coordinator.
Waves chewed the dunes on the city’s northern end during the storm, leaving mini-cliffs between the beaches and the Boardwalk.
“We have every beach access from New Hampshire Avenue to the north side of Steel Pier, Pennsylvania Avenue, blocked off. The dunes are bad,” DeMaio said. “There’s almost no dune left at Delaware Avenue.”
The city is not taking any emergency action to fix the dunes. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is set to begin its Absecon Island project in April, and Atlantic City is first in line, along with Longport, to get its dune and beach system replenished.
North Wildwood is in the same boat. Tuesday’s storm impacted a section of the city’s beaches, especially between Second and Fifth avenues.
“The ocean got all the way up and clipped the dunes on a good portion of our beach,” Mayor Patrick Rosenello said.
But, like Atlantic City, the town is gearing up for a beach replenishment project, Rosenello said. Early next month, sand will begin being trucked from other areas of the island to North Wildwood’s most eroded beaches, Rosenello said.
“So we’re hoping that that’s the last storm of the winter,” he said.
And there’s not much time to fix the beaches before the annual rush of tourists to South Jersey. Replenish too early, and a nor’easter could negate the effects of the project. Too late, and it could affect summer tourism.
“You have a very short window here,” Rosenello said.
In Avalon and Stone Harbor, Tuesday’s storm disrupted an ongoing beach replenishment project.
Last week, the project, overseen by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and state Department of Environmental Protection, wrapped up operations in the southern section of Stone Harbor.
Tuesday’s storm may force some of that work to be redone.
“We do have early reports of significant erosion in parts of Stone Harbor where we have an ongoing beachfill contract,” said Steve Rochette, a spokesman for the Army Corps’ Philadelphia District. “Our contractor is currently working in Avalon and potentially may return to do some additional work in Stone Harbor.”
Work in Avalon began two days before the nor’easter, according to Scott Wahl, the town’s business administrator. He said the project was suspended and the dredge had to be moved to safe waters.
“Avalon did not experience significant beach erosion because the beaches are severely eroded to begin with,” Wahl said. “Much of the beach from Ninth Street south to the teens has already disappeared due to prior storm events.”
Wahl said the dredge will likely return before the weekend when seas calm down.
“Avalon is very fortunate that the storm arrived at the beginning of the beach fill project and not after it was completed,” he said.