SEA ISLE CITY — Water creeped into the center of the street at 40th and Central Avenue during Monday morning’s high tide as minor flooding hit the Jersey Shore.
But residents and second-home owners didn’t have to rely on each other for updates on the heavy rain.
Sea Isle City’s new live web camera broadcast the light inundation of the town’s most susceptible intersection, which acts as a barometer for flooding in the rest of the town. It’s meant to warn people when to move their vehicles from low-lying to more elevated areas during nuisance flooding.
“It was flooding (on 40th and Central) all the way across, which means there are probably other roads in Sea Isle that are flooded,” said city construction official Neil Byrne at the unveiling of the tool Monday.
The live stream is available on the website of the New Jersey Coastal Coalition, a group of more than 20 municipalities that formed after Hurricane Sandy.
Like other barrier islands, Sea Isle is grappling with the effects of sea level rise on regular, day-to-day life for its 2,500 year-round residents and tens of thousands of summertime visitors.
Closed roads and threatened cars are typical in towns that experience nuisance flooding, smaller rain events that happen multiple times per year.
The city recently enhanced its alert system with nearly 80 warning signs that blink when a road is underwater. If one of the yellow signs is flashing, motorists know to turn their car around.
Following the lead of Wildwood and Long Beach Island, Sea Isle City also passed a “No Wake” ordinance in April that prohibits motorists from driving through flooded streets and creating waves that can damage nearby homes and businesses.
“As we all know, life on a barrier island comes with certain challenges,” Mayor Leonard Desiderio said at the news conference. “We want to be able to notify and let those who are visiting our community know that here’s where you can look.”
The camera cost $5,000 and was funded through a grant from OceanFirst Bank to the New Jersey Coastal Coalition.
In the next few years, coalition Executive President Tom Quirk said he wants similar flood cameras set up in most shore towns. He said he is in talks with 10 coastal communities in Atlantic and Cape May counties about joining the initiative.
“The Jersey Shore is a wonderful place to be 362 days of the year,” Quirk said. “But three or four days a year, we have to be aware we have challenges.”