WILDWOOD CREST — Data presented at a recent Borough Commission meeting was stark, but the math was simple.
Some borough roads sit as low as three feet elevation.
Fifty-eight times out of the year, the high tide is above that on Stone Harbor Boulevard, according to U.S. Geological Survey data.
That means 58 out of 365 days, some streets are underwater.
Raising the lowest-lying roads — those along the bay by Cresse Avenue, Rambler Road, New Jersey Avenue and Sunset Lake — by six feet in elevation would reduce flooding to 0.5 days per year, said Mark DeBlasio, of DeBlasio & Associates engineering.
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“Raising structures is the most superior way to reduce flooding,” said DeBlasio at Wednesday night’s meeting. There, he presented key recommendations from the flood mitigation report his design company conducted at the borough’s request.
Other shore communities are raising roads, a costly and complicated undertaking requiring cooperation between private homeowners and municipalities. The state Department of Transportation is funding a $27.5 million project to lift a one-mile section of Route 40, one of the main evacuation routes into and out of Atlantic City.
Other takeaways from the Wildwood Crest study included the need for updated outfall pipes with new valve systems and more uniform bulkhead heights.
Of 400 bulkhead points analyzed, DeBlasio said only 25% meet the borough’s requirement of being at least 6.7 feet in elevation. Two of 18 borough-owned, street-end bulkheads are in compliance.
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He suggested a new borough ordinance requiring private and borough-owned bulkheads to be eight feet in elevation.
“The tidal water will enter through the lowest access point along the bay side of the barrier island,” DeBlasio said as he read from the report.
Residents in the packed meeting expressed frustration with flooding that has plagued Wildwood Crest, and other barrier islands at the Jersey Shore, for decades, and said new bulkheads wouldn’t fix the problem.
Gary Angus, who lives on low-lying Lake Road, pointed to clogged outfall pipes and storm drains as the culprit. Outfall pipes discharge flood water back into the bay.
“We’ve been down here for 50 years. ... We understand what we’re up against,” Angus said. “It’s not going over the bulkhead. It’s going through the storm drains.”
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DeBlasio presented four ways to upgrade the borough’s outfall pipes with either manually operated or remotely operated tide control vales or with pump stations.
Now, borough commissioners will take input from the public and decide which projects to pursue. The flood mitigation study will be posted on the borough’s website.
“Everyone who lives in a flood-prone area wants to know when we’re going to fix their area,” said Mayor Don Cabrera. “We wouldn’t have done this report if we weren’t interested in creating a plan.”