BAY HEAD, N.J. (AP) — This week's nor'easter took a bite out of New Jersey's beaches. The storm that began Sunday night and ended Tuesday evening caused moderate to significant erosion in parts of the state's 127-mile long coastline.
Some of the worst erosion took place in spots that could least afford it, including communities still waiting for — or holding out against — a protective sand dune project.
"This storm is a prime example of why beach replenishment is so desperately needed," said Chris Nelson, a borough councilman in Mantoloking, which still needs three homeowners to sign easements before the dune project can begin there. "Our beaches were decimated by this nor'easter. An engineered beach is the only way to mitigate the devastating damage of winter storms or a tropical storm or hurricane."
The state Department of Environmental Protection was to complete an erosion study Wednesday night. But the department said preliminary inspections found minor erosion or none at all in 73 of 95 spots it checked.
An inspection Wednesday by The Associated Press found significant erosion in northern and central Ocean County, where the dune project has yet to begin due to pockets of resistance among homeowners.
Here is a look at how each region of the shore fared during the storm:
DEP spokesman Bob Considine said his department's staff saw "some beach loss throughout the county, with more notable impacts along the southern half of the county."
MANASQUAN: The borough's recently replenished beaches came through the storm fairly well, with more than 400 feet of beach still in place at low tide Wednesday. The borough does not have sand dunes; it pushes piles of sand up near its beach walk each winter and flattens them back out each summer.
BELMAR: Some erosion, but beaches remained in good shape.
ASBURY PARK: City officials estimate the storm washed away 10 to 20 percent of the beach.
The worst erosion appears to have occurred here, where Sandy did some of its worst damage. The northern Ocean County section of the statewide dune project is scheduled to begin in the spring — but only after the necessary approvals have been obtained from homeowners, either voluntarily or though the numerous court proceedings currently under way.
BAY HEAD: Some oceanfront homeowners chipped in and spent $5 million of their own money to build a rock wall between their homes and the ocean. They will be in court next month asking to be excused from the dune project. The rock wall, which they pay to have covered with sand during the summer, was laid bare — again — by this week's nor'easter. A spokesman for the homeowners says it did its job in terms of protecting property. A drop-off of 10 to 15 feet was caused by erosion in many areas; about 100 feet of beach remained in place at high tide Wednesday.
MANTOLOKING: A 15- to 20-foot drop-off exists, and about 75 feet of beach remained in northern and central areas. Further south, the drop off approached 25 feet.
BRICK: A 20-foot drop-off was carved into the sand, and a steel sea wall installed shortly after Sandy that is normally covered by sand is now exposed, though parts had already been uncovered last summer.
TOMS RIVER: Some of the worst erosion at the shore took place in the Ortley Beach section of Toms River. Man-made sand dunes that were pushed up against the boardwalk were virtually obliterated, and much of the $250,000 worth of sand the township paid to have trucked into town and dumped on the beach is gone; about 100 feet of beach remains.
LONG BEACH ISLAND: Significant erosion in the Holgate section of Long Beach Township at the southern tip of Long Beach Island was being repaired by a bulldozer Wednesday, pushing sand up from the surf back onto the 50 feet of beach that remained.
The DEP found eroded dunes in Atlantic City, and to a lesser extent in Ventnor, Margate, and Longport.
CAPE MAY COUNTY
The DEP documented minor dune erosion in Stone Harbor and Avalon. North Wildwood also saw the loss of some dune width and moderate beach erosion, Considine said.