NJ beaches were one of the first known casualties of Hurricane Sandy, and, even as she raged outside, footage of the devastation shocked locals as well as those watching globally.
NJ beaches along with coastal areas in New York were very hard hit by Sandy’s resultant floods. Damage to structures on the shore was heavily documented with images of Atlantic City and Asbury Park emerging as hallmarks of the horrors wrought by Sandy upon the region.
But, as Sandy plowed through the Northeast, NJ beaches remained under water after the massive flooding came in, making initial damage assessments difficult to gauge. Now the floodwater has receded, and environmental experts are free to make assessments about how to best preserve beaches to prevent further erosion to coastal regions ahead of future disasters — reigniting a debate about whether allocating funds for such measures is prudent or necessary.
A study conducted on NJ beaches after Sandy reveals that on average, 30 to 40 feet of coastline disappeared in her wake, except, says beach erosion expert Stewart Farrell, director of Stockton College’s Coastal Research Center, those that had recently been shored up with sand to prevent such a happenstance from occurring.
Farrell says that fiscal concerns aside, the measure is effective at preventing beach loss and explains:
“It really, really works … Where there was a federal beach fill in place, there was no major damage — no homes destroyed, no sand piles in the streets. Where there was no beach fill, water broke through the dunes.”
The New York Daily News reports that the programs to preserve NJ beaches and others at risk of erosion and sand loss are not without their detractors though. Sen. Tom Coburn, (R-OK), classed the spending as wasteful pork in a 2009 report titled “Washed Out To Sea,” and he said:
“Taxpayers are not surprised when they learn how Congress wastes billions of dollars on questionable programs and projects each year, but it may still shock taxpayers to know that Congress has literally dumped nearly $3 billion into beach projects that have washed out to sea.”
Alas, that was 2009, and Sandy has left her mark indelibly on NJ beaches, making it a bit more likely lawmakers will warm to the idea of preserving beaches proactively rather than trying to restore them after the next big hit.