MARGATE — A crowd of about 60 people on the beach at Delavan Avenue shouted, “Fix our beach!” as residents and visitors waded through water, deep in some places, to get near the ocean Sunday.
“This is a public health issue,” said Dr. Don Krachman, of Margate. “This is irresponsible and they should have known this was going to happen when they were told by people in Margate that it would.”
Krachman and others protested on the beach against the ongoing dune construction by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which started earlier this month.
City officials fought for two years to stop the dune project, after residents rejected a ballot question to join in the beach replenishment project.
While a federal court judge sided with Margate in prohibiting the state Department of Environmental Protection from acquiring easements, the courts rejected the city’s argument that the dunes were unnecessary and would create drainage issues.
A $63.3 million Absecon Island Storm Drainage Reduction contract was awarded Nov. 23, 2016.
Several inches of rainwater collected behind dune construction between Fredericksburg and Douglas Avenues after heavy rain Friday into Saturday. A similar situation occurred earlier in the week after rain last weekend.
Children jumped and ran through the landlocked pools, and several inches of water on the south end of Douglas Avenue fed straight into the pools of water trapped by the dunes.
Stefanie Block, of Margate, said the Army Corps told neighbors the water would be gone in 24 hours after it rained Friday night into early Saturday morning — but a solitary no-swimming sign still stood in nearly a foot of water near Brunswick Avenue.
“They need to bring the sand back like it was before,” said Barbara Krachman, who was at the protest with her husband. “I’m really worried about the health problem of it all.”
Residents said one of their biggest concerns was about the quality of the trapped water, especially as it reached into the streets.
Julie O’Connell, of Philadelphia, was staying in a house near the beach area. She said the water was higher Saturday and then went down a little, but did not go away. She told her children not to go in the water this weekend, as she didn’t know if it contained any germs or bacteria.
Barbara Glickman, of Margate, said she has lived in the area for 30 years and never saw anything like that kind of flooding before. She said if the beaches continued to look like they did this weekend, her children and their families would not come down to vacation.
Dr. Charles Dietzek, who owns a home in Margate, said his immediate concern is for the public safety risk the standing water may pose to people, especially children playing in it, or others who have to wade through the deeper parts of the pools to gain access to the beach.
“We also have the water coming in from the streets, and still flooding in the streets,” he said. “The water could be taking in dog or bird excrement, garbage and other things. It’ll become a cesspool. They should shut down the project and hold off on further dredging. Shut it down.”
Carol Armon has lived in the area for 64 years and said it has been good to see the beaches grow in size, but the dune project “has now ruined it all.”
A representative of the state Department of Environmental Protection previously told the Press the excess water problem is temporary.
A representative from the Army Corps could not be reached for comment Sunday.
Staff Writer Lauren Carroll contributed to this report.