What’s going on with Flood Insurance Rate Maps

What’s going on with Flood Insurance Rate Maps

FEMA Flood Insurance Rate Map Seminar

Many people have fears that since Superstorm Sandy, their flood insurance rates will go up out of sight. But according to FEMA flood insurance expert Steven Ardito, the new Flood Insurance Rate Maps have yet to take effect and most of the provisions contained in the Biggert-Waters Act of 2012 – meant to get the National Flood Insurance Program out of debt – have been repealed. The Homeowners Flood Insurance Affordability Act passed in 2014 will slow the increases of premiums, especially in regards to ownership.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency held a personalized seminar on the Preliminary Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) Feb. 26 in Stafford Township. Those who brought their Base Flood Elevation (BFE) survey with them and current flood insurance bill could get a pretty good idea of where their rates would be going once the FIRM map is adopted. The map has another year of making the rounds of government offices and public hearings before it is stamped “final.”

Indeed, the seminar on Thursday was part of the public vetting of the map.

Because the seminar was a one-on-one personalized session, the first stop for this reporter (whose Sandy-repaired house in Tuckerton Beach is on the wait list to be elevated) was a sit down with a FEMA Region 2 mitigation outreach person, Andrew Mortin. With my address in hand, he quickly pulled up a satellite map that showed my street and the roof of my small house. He discovered that my risk, under the flood insurers’ rating, would increase slightly because I am placed in an AE zone 9 on the new map rather than the AE zone 8. But because I was planning to elevate above my BFE of 9 feet above sea level, I could thumb my nose at the change. Tuckerton, I told him, has required in their ordinances that houses in Tuckerton Beach be elevated an additional 3 feet (of what they call freeboard), plus the one foot required by the state; I would be at 13 feet above sea level.

Mortin was impressed. “I applaud Tuckerton for that. I think that will greatly diminish the risk of flood damage.”

Mortin said anyone could, and should, access the preliminary flood map and learn their flood zone by going online to region2coastal.com.

Anyone who disagrees with the zone category where his or her house appears can appeal the map by going to his or her municipal flood plain manager with technical information that proves a disparity.

Since Sandy, I had done a number of stories on preliminary Flood maps, and I needed a refresher course from Mortin on just what map we were now concerned with.

Mortin explained that FEMA was at work on a new FIRM map that they had started in 2009 and were two-thirds finished when Superstorm Sandy hit. The first maps that were given to the public were for reconstruction purposes only and had nothing to do with insurance. “That was the ABFE (advisory base flood elevation) map for people who wanted to rebuild quickly. Then in January of 2013, we released a more final map but it was still a preliminary work map to be used only for construction. Now in January of 2014 came the Advisory Flood Insurance Rate Map. And after appeals we will release the Revised Preliminary FIRM.”

From this I learned that only the FIRM map was relevant to insurance rates. Okay.

So next was a sit down with Ardito, a FEMA Insurance Program Specialist. He looked over my flood insurance declarations page and pronounced it sub-par for information, so he wouldn’t give an opinion on whether I was paying too much. He did see a misstatement that said I was built on a slab and not on a crawl space, when I am up on three feet of concrete blocks.

Also we couldn’t figure out why my house, which was built in the early 1970s before the flood insurance rate maps were developed (pre-FIRM), was not grandfathered for a subsidy. But no matter, those subsidies would be going away eventually, he said.

The fact that some time in the future, my house will be elevated above the base flood elevation and be “in compliance,” means I will pay around $450 a year for flood insurance rather than the $1,700 I am paying now. Good deal.

“Even if the zone changes, that doesn’t mean that you will be penalized in your rate,” said Ardito. “Every time a map changes, homeowners can’t go out and bring it into compliance,” he said. “We understand that.”

For those who are not raising their homes and are below the base flood elevation for their area, a simple thing they can do to lower insurance rates is to install flood vents, he said.

There is a rather complicated scale that insurance companies use to bring up a base flood elevation artificially if the homeowner installs vents. “If your foundation’s lowest floor is at 3.01 feet, and the next floor elevation is at 6.04 feet, if the proper storm vents are installed you would gain 3 feet of betterment: The insurance considers that you are at 6.04 feet.”

His last advice was for each individual to talk to his or her insurance agent.

But for those who are elevating, each foot above the BFE, up to four feet, means a substantial reduction in rates. “For an example, in theory, for a house worth $250,000 and covered for $10,000 in contents, if at base level or elevation 0, the homeowner would expect to pay $1,200 a year,” he said. “Then for every foot above, they would see a discount. For 1 foot above BFE they would pay $900; for 2 feet $700; up to 4 feet, when it would be $450. To go any higher makes no difference in the rate – at 5 or 6 (feet above BFE) it would still be $450.”

So freeboard does work?

“That’s also based on whether the structure is resilient and code-compliant,” he said.

Ardito said the marketability of homes that have been mitigated is much higher than those that have not. Flood insurance rates are transferred to the new owners, no matter how many maps are done during the lifetime of the house.

“That was taken away with the Biggert-Waters Act, but that has been gutted,” he said.

To find guidance on installing flood vents, Ardito suggested going to the region2coastal.comwebsite, click on technical bulletins and find TB 1-08, which describes the type of vent that should be installed.

As for those dreaded V-zones, they apply to properties where high-velocity wave action is greater than 3 feet during a storm and experience such waves about once a year – a 1 percent chance of occurrence every year.

Sandy did not affect the FIRM, said Ardito. “Sandy far surpassed the 100-year event in magnitude, and that’s not what the maps are for. One such event does not change the maps.”

FEMA has just a few more counties to go in New Jersey with their public road show. When asked to describe the public response thus far, Ardito said that in general, people were pleased with the information they received. “All homeowners are basically the same when they come in: they are anxious and nervous about the unexpected. I would say we have a lot more happy people afterwards than when they first come in. They are getting information they might not get elsewhere, and that’s our reward.”

- Reposted from The Sandpaper, 3/4/15

What’s going on with Flood Insurance Rate Maps

Ocean Energy Management holds public meeting on offshore oil exploration

U.S. Sens. Bob Menendez and Cory Booker (both D-N.J.) and Congressman Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.-6th) have commended the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s decision to hold a public meeting in New Jersey before the federal government moves forward with a five-year offshore leasing plan that includes opening parts of the Atlantic Ocean to offshore oil and gas drilling.

The announcement comes in response to a letter composed by Menendez, Booker and Pallone expressing concern over any drilling in the Atlantic, and asking for a public comment meeting to be held on the proposal.

“I thank the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management for accepting our request, and look forward to the opportunity for local residents, business owners, fishermen and community leaders who would be most impacted by offshore drilling to have their voices heard,” said Menendez. “Our state’s coastline and economy would be shattered by an oil spill near our shore, and I believe this important public forum will help prove why we must kill the drill.”

Booker commented, “This public meeting is an important first step in helping the Obama administration understand the severity of the environmental and economic risks to New Jersey if oil and gas drilling in the Atlantic Ocean’s fragile ecosystem is permitted. I know that New Jerseyans will make their voices heard and make it clear that fossil fuel exploration off the Atlantic coast would be a devastating – and potentially irreparable – mistake.”

“Oil drilling in the Atlantic would put New Jersey’s shore communities and our state’s economy at significant risk,” added Pallone.  “And those who will be most seriously impacted by the choices we make today are those of us who call the beach our home, rely on it for our livelihood, or come to enjoy it year after year.”

According to a press release from the office of Menendez, he, Booker and Pallone “have been strong advocates for better environmental protection and increased transparency in the five-year Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program plan, criticizing closed-door meetings without advocates for the protection of shore economies and clean water. In a July 2014 letter to President Obama, they urged his administration to keep the Atlantic Coast off limits for oil and gas exploration, stressing that the environmental and economic consequences of an oil spill near the Jersey Shore would be catastrophic.”

- Reposted from The Sandpaper, 2/26/15

Ocean Energy Management holds public meeting on offshore oil exploration

New webpage details Rutgers’ proposed seismic study

New content on the Rutgers University Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences website – at geology.rutgers.edu/slin3d-home – details the seismic survey slated for 15 to 50 miles southeast of Barnegat Inlet this summer, pending successful completion of the National Science Foundation environmental compliance process.

Scientists from Rutgers and the University of Texas at Austin propose to examine the geologic record of past sea level changes and the effect on shoreline resilience via the planned seismic study. As a Rutgers media statement from May 22, 2014, explained, “Superstorm Sandy demonstrated the vulnerability of people, natural resources and infrastructure to the extremes of weather along the Jersey shore. Matching new 3D acoustic images to existing information will provide knowledge of shoreline stability during times of sea-level change and climate variability. … The study will be limited to 34 days of imaging similar to a medical sonogram of the ocean floor.”

The NSF-funded survey was scheduled to take place last summer, but was postponed after the research vessel experienced equipment problems.

Many on the Jersey Shore, from fishermen to environmental groups to lawmakers, opposed the project, expressing concern over the seismic airguns’ potential effect on sea life and fisheries commerce. The N.J. Department of Environmental Protection legally challenged the study, but was stymied in court.

Though the survey later came to a halt when the R/V Marcus G. Langseth was moored for repairs for a number of weeks – meaning the study could not meet the required 30 days of completed work by the project’s Aug. 17, 2014, deadline – NSF senior public affairs specialist Maria Zacharias noted at the time that research efforts are expected to be rescheduled for approximately the same time this year.

Rutgers professor Gregory Mountain, the study’s principal investigator, has said he cannot comment on the project due to continuing litigation, but he spearheaded the creation of the new website to provide background on, and answer questions about, the survey.

“We can’t prevent storms or sea-level rise,” the site reads, “but we can anticipate their arrival. One way to prepare for the future is to understand the past by embracing the geologist’s creed: ‘Look to the Earth and it will teach you.’ Sediments beneath the Jersey coast, both onshore and offshore, contain a long record of shoreline response to Earth’s natural cycles. By studying these sediments, geologists know that past sea-level rise has at times moved the shoreline 40 miles west of its current position; at other times sea-level fall has drawn the shoreline 80 miles east of today’s, reaching as far as the edge of the continental shelf.”

Rutgers and University of Texas at Austin scientists want to document the record of these changes in what they say is “the best way possible – by collecting acoustic images of the history preserved in the layering of sediment beneath the continental shelf. With it we intend to track patterns of shoreline response to the Earth’s ever-changing sea level. This website describes the background, methods and goals of our proposed research, and how we are following federal and state environmental compliance procedures.”

The site includes sections for FAQs, research, background, compliance and photos. A “shipboard blog” will also be posted from sea if the proposed seismic survey moves forward.

- Reposted from The Sandpaper, 2/26/15

New webpage details Rutgers’ proposed seismic study

New flood map open house

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), FEMA Region II will be hosting two public meetings to present the Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRM) for comments and appeals. The FIRM determines the insurance rates for the National Flood Insurance program. These meetings will begin our 90 day appeals period prior to FEMA issuing a Letter of Final Determination (LFD). The LFD initiates the 6 month adoption period before the new maps become effective. All appeals will be resolved prior to LFDEffective FIRMs become the basis for community floodplain management and insurance requirements.

The first meeting will be conducted at the Ocean County Complex, Cafeteria, 129, Hooper Avenue, Toms River,NJ 08754 on February 25, 2015 from 4:00PM until 8:00 PM The second meeting will be conducted at the Ocean County Southern Service Center (OCSSC) 179 South Main Street, Manahawkin, NJ 08050 on February 26, 2015 from 4:00 PM until 8:00 PM.

New flood map open house 


Photos of cold and snow gripping LBI


t600-Cold Frozen Bench 2

The recent cold temperatures and snow have everyone thinking about the warm days of summer that are surely just around the corner – aren’t they?











A bench and the railings in Barnegat Light are covered in ice. (Photo by: Ryan Morrill)

A bench and the railings in Barnegat Light are covered in ice. (Photo by: Ryan Morrill)











Ice in Barnegat Inlet (Photo by: Ryan Morrill)

Ice in Barnegat Inlet (Photo by: Ryan Morrill)


















An ice machine at Lighthouse Marina in Barnegat Light seems right at home at the ice-covered docks. (Photo by: Ryan Morrill)

Even this crow doesn’t look amused by the winter weather. (Photo by: Ryan Morrill)

Even this crow doesn’t look amused by the winter weather. (Photo by: Ryan Morrill)











Fifth Street in Beach Haven. (Photo by: Ryan Morrill)

Geese and ducks gather around open water in Barnegat Light. (Photo by: Ryan Morrill)

Geese and ducks gather around open water in Barnegat Light. (Photo by: Ryan Morrill)










A lone Canada goose seems to stand watch over the sleeping mallard ducks. (Photo by: Ryan Morrill)

A lone Canada goose seems to stand watch over the sleeping mallard ducks. (Photo by: Ryan Morrill)











The bay bathing beach in Harvey Cedars. (Photo by: Ryan Morrill)

The bay bathing beach in Harvey Cedars. (Photo by: Ryan Morrill)

















A dock near the Harvey Cedars Yacht Club is festooned with hanging ice. (Photo by: Ryan Morrill)

A dock near the Harvey Cedars Yacht Club is festooned with hanging ice. (Photo by: Ryan Morrill)


















A solitary channel marker is all that can be seen in the vast expanse of the frozen bay. (Photo by: Ryan Morrill)

A solitary channel marker is all that can be seen in the vast expanse of the frozen bay. (Photo by: Ryan Morrill)












Snow covered dunes in Surf City near Third Street after Monday night’s snow. (Photo by: Ryan Morrill)

Snow covered dunes in Surf City near Third Street after Monday night’s snow. (Photo by: Ryan Morrill)


















The snow meets the ocean in Surf City. (Photo by: Ryan Morrill)

The snow meets the ocean in Surf City. (Photo by: Ryan Morrill)











Empty, snow-covered Surf City beach Tuesday morning. (Photo by: Ryan Morrill)

Empty, snow-covered Surf City beach Tuesday morning. (Photo by: Ryan Morrill)











Snow-covered dunes in Surf City near Third Street. (Photo by: Ryan Morrill)

Snow-covered dunes in Surf City near Third Street. (Photo by: Ryan Morrill)


















- Reposted from The Sandpaper, 2/17/15

Photos of cold and snow gripping LBI 



BL gets “phenomenal” rate on money borrowed

Barnegat Light borough refinanced its municipal debt and was able to obtain a financing rate of .68 percent, which is down from last year’s rate of 1.03 percent.

The “phenomenal rate” on the borough’s $1.198 million in bond anticipation notes was reported by Chief Financial Officer Kathleen Flanagan.

PNC Bank was the successful bidder among 26 bidders contacted.

In other matters, the recent water main break at 11th Street and Long Beach Boulevard is repaired, township officials said at the Feb. 11 monthly borough council meeting. Resident Connie Higgins thanked the borough public works crews who were on the job in freezing conditions.

Repaving over the dirt-covered site will be done after the ground thaws, said Borough Administrator/Clerk Gail Wetmore. Meanwhile, the spot in the right lane of traffic is barricaded.

Discussing the Island-wide free bus shuttle service, Barnegat Light Borough Council members who have been in touch with Long Beach Township officials reported that the township is looking into getting grants to fund the bus so that towns would not have to be asked to contribute the $10,000 each that was requested last year.

After the meeting, The SandPaper contacted township Mayor Joseph Mancini by email to inquire, and Mancini wrote, “We still need municipal support this year and hopefully this will be the last.”

Long Beach Township administers the shuttle bus program that was started in conjunction with the Long Beach Island Chamber of Commerce. No further discussion on the shuttle took place at the February meeting.

In his Docks and Harbors Committee report, Councilman Ed Wellington said there are still four boat slips available at the municipal dock on West 10th Street.

Thirty-two municipal slips are leased from April 1 through Dec. 1 at a fee of $2,000. Those interested may call borough hall at 609-494-9196 or stop in at Borough Hall, 10 East Seventh St. Borough Hall hours are Monday through Friday, 8 a.m.  to 3:30 p.m.

Relating to preparation of the 2015 municipal budget, a bit of good news came in last month when beach badge revenues from last summer exceeded the amount that had been anticipated. The sales of almost $232,000 worth of badges was almost $30,000 over what had been anticipated, reported Councilwoman Dottie Reynolds, Beaches Committee chairwoman.

“However, it was less than 2013, which was less than 2012. Our sales are going down but really not enough to affect the budget,” added the summary in the meeting minutes.

In his committee report on police and public safety at the February meeting, Councilman Frank Mikuletzky advised residents to lock their vehicle doors.

“There was a little bit of activity in High Bar Harbor,” he said. “Somebody called, and that’s how they caught them.”

A recent report on 2014 activity from the Long Beach Township Police Department, which patrols Barnegat Light by contract, showed police responding to 3,277 calls in Barnegat Light, of which 1,612 were property checks. Traffic stops numbered 532, and there were 10 car accidents, three driving under the influence arrests and 10 warrant arrests, among other activity. Police responded to 101 first aid calls and 27 fire calls.

The Long Beach Island emergency information brochure has been added to the website of the Barnegat Light Taxpayers’ Association, BLTA officer John Tennyson said. The public can find it at barnegatlighttaxpayer.org under the heading newsletter and resources.”

The outline of procedures and resources in the event of a disaster was published by the Offices of Emergency Management of the six Long Beach Island municipalities plus Stafford Township.

BL gets “phenomenal” rate on money borrowed 

- Reposted from The Sandpaper, 2/17/15 

Get news about your neighborhood in real time

newspaper1Want a great way to stay connected to your community? Learn what’s going on in real time directly from your local law enforcement agencies and schools.

Nixle will keep you updated with the news you want by sending alerts right to your email’s in box.  You can sign up for Nixle here and read more about setting it up in this brochure.

For an example of the type of news you can receive, take a look at how it’s used by the Long Beach Township Police Department.







Causeway Bridge Update

t600-Bridge Meeting SB 2Between now and 2020, when the $320 million Causeway Bridge project is done, its progress will be of utmost interest to area residents, who jammed the first of two update meetings held by the state Department of Transportation, in Ship Bottom Feb. 9.

They learned that the new main bridge in the double-span system should be finished in May 2016, at which time traffic will be switched over to that new, southernmost span. In the next phase, the existing 55-year-old Causeway Bridge system alongside it will be rehabilitated, to eventually become the span for westbound traffic.

Another key point of interest was that this spring, traffic flow will be temporarily reduced to one lane during construction. Project officials assured a questioning captain of the Surf City Fire Co. and EMS that two lanes will be restored by Memorial Day.

The travel lanes, when eventually finished, will be 11 feet wide, rather than the existing 12 feet. That is to make room for a 6-foot sidewalk on the westbound side and to build bicycle accommodations. The design calls for wider outside shoulders on the twin Manahawkin Bay Bridges and 6-foot bike lanes on the trestle bridges.

“Are you going to give driving lessons?” one woman quipped as she spoke with a project manager, Pankesh Patel, after the meeting.

The shoulders are also designed to act as a third lane in an emergency or evacuation, under project plans.

“Once it is all done, we’ll have two lanes on the new bridge heading eastbound, and two lanes on the existing rehabilitated bridge heading westbound,” Patel summarized the 2020 result.

As a quick review, the Route 72 Manahawkin Bay Bridges Project involves the construction of a new structure parallel to and south of the existing Manahawkin Bay Bridge, rehabilitation of the existing Manahawkin Bay Bridge, and the rehabilitation of three trestle bridges over Hilliards Thorofare, East Thorofare and West Thorofare.

Folks came out in a rain-spitting wind to hear the details that centered on the upcoming phase of rehabilitating the East and West Thorofares. The improvements include pier cap rehabilitation, bearing retrofits, piling protection systems, new parapets, and repairing and resurfacing the bridge decks. That phase is scheduled to be finished in July 2017.

Anyone who did not get to the 2 p.m. informational meeting in Ship Bottom Borough Hall early did not get a seat and had to wait until a repeat afternoon briefing was given.

“It’s standing room only, and there’s no room to stand,” announced one in a line of residents who decided to leave and either “read about it in the paper” or attend the evening session in Stafford Township.

Patel and other project managers, engineers and representatives said the project is on schedule, and they gave details of the multi-phased construction.

“In May 2016, we switch the traffic onto the new bridge – and it may happen earlier, too – so, once we have the traffic detoured onto the new bridge, we’ll take the superstructure of the existing bridge off and replace it with a new, brand new superstructure,” he said.

“That includes rehabilitating the existing bay bridge along with Hilliards Thorofare.”

A detailed project description can be found by going to the DOT website at www.state.nj.us/transportation/ and typing “Manahawkin Bay Bridges Project” in the search line at the top right. Patel pointed out that the site includes photo galleries with detailed descriptions.

Currently foundations are being built in the water and on the adjacent shore for the new, parallel Manahawkin Bay Bridge. The 16 hammerhead piers to support the new bridge are nearly complete, with only minor finishing work remaining. Cofferdams have been installed in the water to allow work to progress in the dry work zone within the cofferdams.

Among other commenters, Barnegat Light resident Shirley Alnutt raised an issue about “very poor” lighting making navigation at night difficult through the curving work zone. She was told to submit that concern in writing on one of the comment sheets that were at the sign-in desk. Project spokesperson Martine Culbertson said reflectors are one option being considered.

Storm flooding conditions in Ship Bottom on Eighth and Ninth streets were raised by another questioner. Engineers said a pump station is one of the remedies being considered, but that end phase of the project “is still in the design stages.”

Mainland Aspects

Covered at Evening Meeting

At the evening meeting in Stafford Township, discussion included environmental mitigations on the Cedar Bonnet Island section that are needed to comply with environmental permit conditions for the entire project. The DOT, in collaboration with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, is restoring a previous dredge disposal facility at the Cedar Bonnet Island unit of the Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge. That phase of the work was also referred to as “Contract 5.”

It will include wetland creation, mitigation of freshwater wetlands, intertidal/subtidal shallows and riparian impacts. Also included are public access improvements such as public parking and new interpretive pedestrian walking trails to provide improved access to the refuge and give residents and visitors additional passive recreation and tourism enhancements.

In addition, two storm water basins would be retrofitted.

Steve Balzano of Parsons Brinckerhoff, the bridge project design engineering firm, said that construction should begin within a month. The target time for completion is December 2017, Patel said.

“It will be an attractive-looking area that people can enjoy,” said Balzano, who said the project would cost $7 million. “There is going to be a 20-foot-high observation area which will give people a great view of Long Beach Island. We will also be planting a lot of shrubs and trees. There will be pavilions and benches.”

Holgate resident Tom Beaty had questioned this part of the bridge project at the Ship Bottom meeting.

“It seems not enough thought is going into the maintenance of the mitigation project. To spend millions of dollars to rebuild 40 acres of landscaping and have no maintenance plan is ridiculous,” he summarized later. “Thousands of trees will die, and it will look horrible and be a waste of money. Fish and Wildlife has no staff for this project. This needs to be addressed!”

Attendees with detailed concerns were told to write them on the comment sheets that were available on the sign-in table.

In other information brought up at the Stafford evening meeting, Route 72 will be widened by an extra eastbound and westbound lane by the Marsha Drive intersection. The new lanes will be approximately 700 feet long.

“We’re doing that to make it easier for the cars to stack up in traffic, since during the summer that is a very busy intersection” said Joseph Mumber, chief bridge engineer for Parsons Brinckerhoff. “It will create a better traffic flow and will make it easier for cars to maneuver if they want to turn off.”

Stafford resident Nancy Fiamingo was concerned about pedestrian walkways heading west on the bridges to the mainland. She said because there was not enough room to safely build them along Route 72, the sidewalks would have to be built in Beach Haven West along Steven Drive, which closely runs parallel to the highway.

“Those sidewalks would have to be built by the township, and that would be at the taxpayers’ expense,” she said. “There isn’t any safe place to put them along Route 72, so this will be an additional tax burden for us.”

Mumber said because of safety conditions, there is no other alternative.

“I think people don’t like the idea of more people walking in their community,” he said.

Stafford resident Sal Sorce said the age of the bridge made the project inevitable.

“But no matter what work you do, you still have the problem of the bottleneck in Ship Bottom,” he said. “The bottom line is that all the cars going over the bridge to the Island will be backing up on Route 72 on weekends during the summer. No matter what they do with the bridges, the Ship Bottom situation isn’t going to change because you’re still going to have a lot of traffic.”

- Reposted from The Sandpaper, 2/10/15 

Rising sea level poses high risk along back bays

Construction to ease flooding on causeway into Sea Isle City, 2/2/15

Construction to ease flooding on causeway into Sea Isle City, 2/2/15

The bayside along New Jersey’s barrier island communities is one of nine high-risk areas for flooding along the North Atlantic coast, according to the findings of a new federal study.

The study by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, a response to Hurricane Sandy, looked at 31,200 miles of coastal, backbay and estuarine areas in 10 states from Virginia into New England, plus Washington, D.C., before picking the nine most susceptible areas in the future.

The study, which also identified the Delaware Bay as an area of risk, delves into the impact from sea levels that are already rising, with many predicting the pace will accelerate over the next century.

The study looked at four sea-level rise scenarios with three time horizons: 2018, 2068 and 2100. Under the worst scenario, Atlantic City would see seas rise by almost 3 feet by 2068 and more than 5 feet by 2100. The levels in Cape May would be only slightly lower, while Sandy Hook would be higher at 7.1 feet by 2100.

While the study said dune systems on the ocean side could conceivably handle such increases, the backbay areas don’t have such protection.

“The back bays in several of the areas become highlighted as high-risk areas particularly with sea level rise. These areas are already low. The challenge is flooding could come from multiple directions,” said Amy Guise, the chief of the Army Corps command center in Baltimore that drafted the report.

The study looked specifically at Long Beach Island in Ocean County, noting that even with a 6-foot sea level rise, the dune system could be maintained to keep the ocean at bay. The west side of the island was a bigger concern. Just a 1-foot increase in sea level means storms that now bring in backbay waters and flood 20 percent of the roads would suddenly flood 70 percent of the roads. The average depth of that water would increase from 1 foot to about 4 feet.

“At a 3-foot sea level rise, the road network becomes unusable,” the study says.

The study looks at numerous ways to deal with rising sea levels, including bulkheads, seawalls, levees, elevation of homes and roads, dunes, breakwaters, living shorelines made of natural materials, groins, deployable floodwalls, reefs and many others. Some ideas could be combined, such as putting a cap of living marine life on the top and sides of bulkheads.

“Some communities looking out 20 years or more may consider strategic retreat and relocating people to higher ground. Each community has to evaluate which measures will work for them,” Guise said.

The study will help the Army Corps identify its priorities, but Guise said it is also meant to be used by other agencies, including transportation departments, community planners, emergency managers and elected officials.

U.S. Rep Frank Pallone, D-6th, who helped secure the $20 million in funding for the two-year study under a 2013 disaster-relief appropriation related to Hurricane Sandy, said it should provide tools to help communities better prepare.

“I am hopeful that this report will help federal, state and local governments mitigate the adverse effects of future disasters. The study builds on lessons we learned from Superstorm Sandy and allows officials to use the latest science and tools to ensure that coastal communities are resilient to the impacts of climate change, as well as future storms,” Pallone said.

The study includes a nine-step planning process on how to identify risky areas and plan a strategy to reduce that risk. There appears to be plenty of room for improvement. Storm mitigation measures, according to the study, did help avert $1.9 billion in losses from Sandy, but the Oct. 29, 2012, storm still caused $65 billion in damages.

New Jersey has a dune system on the ocean side mostly due to projects initiated by the Army Corps. The study summarizes those projects with only a few glaring areas left unprotected, including the stretch from Cape May Inlet to Hereford Inlet and several Delaware Bay towns including Reeds Beach, Pierce’s Point and the Villas. Projects have been proposed for those areas, but none has reached the construction phase.

The study says global sea levels are rising by 1.7 millimeters per year, but this is expected to accelerate over the next century due to warmer ocean waters and melting polar ice. The study notes the rate of sea level rise is higher in some areas because the land is also sinking.

The shore has more than twice the global rate of sea level rise due to land subsidence caused by groundwater withdrawals and post-glacial sinking.

To learn more, check out the study at http://www.nad.usace.army.mil/compstudy

- Reposted from Press of Atlantic City, 2/2/15 

Photo credit: Sharon Stabley


Rising sea level poses high risk along back bays 

Enjoy photos of the ocean world

Anyone interested in discovering the underwater world from a new perspective is invited to spend this weekend’s “Science Saturday” at the Long Beach Island Foundation of the Arts and Sciences with local diver and underwater photographer Kurt Williams.

“The ocean world is filled with beauty and wonder,” Amy Carreño, LBIF’s director of public programs, said in a press release. “Experience the treasures Kurt captures in his photographs,” she urged.

Science Saturday, hosted at the LBIF for nine consecutive winters, highlights interactive lectures on topics regarding today’s most vital scientific, environmental and sustainability matters.

This Saturday’s presentation will be held in the LBIF’s main building, located at 120 Long Beach Blvd. in Loveladies, from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Breakfast treats will be provided by a Little Bite of Italy.

Admittance is free for LBIF members. All others are asked to donate $5.

For more information, call 609-494-1241 or visit lbifoundation.org or LBIF’s Facebook page

- Reposted from The Sandpaper, 1/26/15 

Note: You can view LBIF’s Calendar of Events on our Newsletter & Resources page.

Enjoy photos of the ocean world 

Wetlands development in Holgate angers residents

-e7244a02bb51b332A parcel of sandy beach once considered wetlands on Long Beach Island is a step closer to being developed – or preserved – after a local governing board approved a preliminary subdivision of the tract filled in by Hurricane Sandy.

The approval of the plan submitted by developer Mark Davies at Wednesday’s land use board meeting in Long Beach Township upset residents who packed the room to voice their concerns over the potential for loosing a cherished wildlife sanctuary and increasing storm flooding.

Davies, who does much of his business on Long Beach Island, has said he wants to sell the 6.5-acre parcel between Rosemma and Beck avenues in the township’s Holgate section for preservation. The Trust for Public Lands has expressed interest in buying it, but the national non-profit would need to know that the tract is approved for development first, Davies said.

Many Holgate residents, however, don’t trust that the property will be preserved. They fear that if the sale to the trust falls through, Davies will build houses where marshes now stand.

“Although I believe Mr. Davies has good intentions, this by no means guarantees this will be the outcome,” said Tom Beaty, vice president of the Holgate Taxpayers Association,

The 6.5-acre parcel, which includes 2.2 acres filled in by Sandy, is among a larger tract of wetlands along the bay the trust is considering buying. That sale and final site plan approval by the land use board, however, hinges on whether the state Department of Environmental Protection officially removes the designation of those 2.2 acres as wetlands. The DEP has already declared those acres suitable for building.

More than 100 Holgate residents turned out at Wednesday night’s land use board meeting to urge members not to approve Davies’ development plans. Several residents based their arguments on their concerns over losing a natural area that attracts birds, especially endangered species.

Kyle Gronostajski, executive director of the Long Beach Island-based environmental advocacy group Alliance for a Living Ocean, said that although Davies’ plan is “respectable,” it doesn’t assure the wetlands will be protected.

“This land is very valuable to wildlife,” he said.

But board chairwoman Lynne Schnell said board members can’t take preservation into consideration when deciding whether to give initial approval to the project. She said members can only base their decisions on whether Davies has met all the requirements for developing the site. At times, she engaged in shouting matches with residents who complained their environmental concerns haven’t been addressed.

“We’re not just idiots sitting on this board,” she snapped at one point to a resident who accused board members of not acting in the best interest of the community.

E. Joseph Hummel was the only no vote among the eight votes.

Hummel said the board should have waited to consider Davies’ plan, which he said was incomplete because it was contingent on too many conditions, such as the DEP ruling.

“We should not have moved forward,” he said. “It’s premature. We’ve caused quite a ruckus in our town.”

But because the board had already heard the presentation, failure to take a vote would have resulted in automatic approval, Schnell said.

At Davies’ request, the DEP surveyed the area last summer. In November, the environmental agency issued an initial determination that those 2.2 acres filled in by Sandy should no longer be classified as wetlands. To do that, the DEP would have to revise its coastal wetlands maps. A proposal to make that revision is pending with the DEP but a public hearing on the issue has not yet been set.

Davies said he submitted the plans before any final DEP determination to expedite matters.

Other residents said development of the site would exacerbate an existing flooding problem on Long Beach Boulevard there.

Doug Shearer, who lives across from the wetlands, said they saved his home from severe flooding during Sandy. Instead of the 4 feet of water that inundated other houses in the area, his home had 6 inches of water, he said.

Davies’ initial plan called for 12 lots – one of which would not be developed and three others that would need variances – on the site. But at the meeting, he submitted a second plan, which subdivided the 6.5 acres into 16 lots, three of which would remain as open space and one that could be used for anything the township wanted.

In both plans, the lots suitable for development would be for single-family homes.

Davies said he has a preliminary agreement with the Trust for Public Land to sell the organization the 6.5 acres. He would not disclose a sale price with the trust nor would he disclose the contract price for him to buy the site.

The parcel is owned by members of the Colmer family, who bought the property in 1950 for $5,750, Davies said.

After the Great Storm of 1962, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers took fill from the Colmer site to fill in a breach of the island after the storm with the promise that the Colmer property would be made whole, Davies said.

But that never happened and the family held onto the wetlands property for decades until Hurricane Sandy in October 2012 deposited tons of sand from the beach onto the tract, filling in much of what the Army Corps had removed.

- Reposted from NJ.com, 1/16/15 

Wetlands development in Holgate angers residents 

Fishermen want better fish counts

Fishermen are looking for better management of sea bass by fishery regulators after another winter closure of the fishery.

“We are for conservation and regulations, but this is getting out of control,” said boat captain Howard Bogan, whose family owns and operates the 125-foot Jamaica, the largest party boat in the state.

Black sea bass used to support a winter recreational fishery in fishing towns including Brielle, Point Pleasant Beach and Barnegat Light, but federal closures five of the past six years have put that industry in jeopardy. The causalities are starting to add up.

New Fish Chart

Fish Chart1

Bogan has lost 75 percent of his winter business, and the Eble family in Barnegat Light sold its boat — the Doris Mae IV — and got out of the industry.

“I really wanted to stay in the business another five to 10 years, but National Marine Fishery Service’s rules and regulations are killing us. They’re putting us out of business,” said captain Charlie Eble. “We’re shut down on sea bass. What am I going to fish for from now until spring?”

Eble’s father started the business in 1947.

What gnaws at fishermen is federal fishery regulators did not close down the winter sea bass fishing season because there are too little fish but rather because they don’t have a method to count the recreational winter harvest.

“We have no way of knowing how much fish are being caught. We need to know so we can count them, and when we can’t do that we can’t open the season,” said Moira Kelly, a fishery policy analyst for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Kelly’s job, and that of fishery regulators in general, is not easy. They are tasked by the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery and Conservation Act, the federal law governing fisheries, to use the best available science to maintain sustainable fisheries. Many fishermen, however, believe they are not relying on the best science.

“Their data is poor, and it’s destroying fishing businesses and pushing them out of coastal towns,”said Jim Hutchinson Jr., managing director of the Recreational Fishing Alliance, a national organization that lobbies for the rights of recreational fishermen.

The livelihood of this coastal state’s $1.7 billion recreational fishing industry, which includes for-hire boats and tackle shops, depends on the accuracy of fish counts. But so does the health of fish stocks.

Kelly said they estimate the spawning stock biomass of sea bass is at about 24.6 million pounds spread over its range from Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, to Massachusetts. Of that, only 5.5 million pounds is the acceptable biological catch — defined as the amount of fish that can be safely taken from the ocean without plummeting the stock into an overfished status.

The 5.5 million is divided between recreational and commercial fishermen. The recreational industry gets 51 percent of the catch, while the commercial industry gets 49 percent.

Kelly said there is uncertainty with their data-collection method — called the Marine Recreational Information Program — which uses surveys, random phone calls and dock intercepts to gather how much fish recreational anglers catch.

The MRIP is not available during January and February, Kelly said. Without it, they can’t open a season for fear they would not know until it’s too late whether overfishing is occurring.

Fish Chart 2



 Fish Chart 3



- Reposted from The Asbury Park Press, 1/13/15 

Fishermen want better fish counts


Doris Mae IV Setting Off to New Port

t300-Doris Mae IV 3The 40-year-old Doris Mae IVwas as much a member of the Barnegat Light community as it was a part of the Eble family. But federal regulations have been gobbling so much of the fishing, that when another sportfishing boat owner made a healthy offer, the time for change became clear.

The 100-foot Doris Mae IV will become the offshore Voyager, out of Fishermen’s Supply Dock in Point Pleasant.

“Actually our boat was not for sale,” Ron Eble recounted, with wife, Cindy, from the kitchen table of their Cape Cod-style house seven blocks from the docks. He co-owned the headboat with his brother, Charlie.

“The guy came down and looked at the Miss Barnegat Light, the guy who owns the Voyager in Point Pleasant, and he made them an offer and it wasn’t acceptable. And he came over and said, ‘Well, your boat’s the one I really want.’

“We told him it wasn’t for sale. He called a week later and made us an offer we couldn’t refuse. It was like, wow!”

(To clarify, the Miss Barnegat Light “is not for sale,” said Mayor Kirk Larson when called this week. “The guy just asked if we were looking to sell it. We weren’t really looking to sell it,” he said of his family.)

New owner Jeff Gutman’s revised website already features a picture of the boat with its new name Photoshopped in – kind of a strange sight when the Ebles see it.

“Selling this boat is like a double-edged sword. It’s really tough. It’s like a member of the family.”

Ron, 63, “was born and raised in the business.”

The livelihood has seen dramatic changes since the Ebles’ father, Charles, started his own fishing business after World War II. The first Doris Mae was named after Charles’ wife. In 1960, the Doris Mae III was his first party boat. Ron started running that boat in 1973. Since 1975 the two older brothers had captained the Doris Mae IV, which they designed. It is powered by three turbocharged, 3412 Caterpillar diesels.

Doris Mae Eble, at age 86, is still a dockmaster working out of the tackle shop and selling bait and fuel on the north end of the Viking Village commercial dock at West 18th Street. Asked how she feels about the transition, her oldest son answered, “She thinks it’s right. She is seeing what’s going on with the fishing, just by the amount of bait she’s selling.”

“Regulations have taken more away from us every year,” Eble said.

“Just the way National Marine Fisheries has been going over the years,” he began the explanation. “It started out with size limits, and then they went to bag limits, and now they’re doing closed seasons,” he said, referring to the allowable harvest time for many species.

Dozens of people have lamented on Facebook that they will miss the knowledgeable captain and the hospitality. “If there are fish out there, Captains Ron and Charlie will put us on them,” one customer had thanked before the goodbye was announced on Jan. 2.

“I feel bad about that point,” Eble acknowledged. “I met a lot of good friends, and our crew was like our sons.”

But he wonders if such boats are going to be allowed to fish for anything in five years.

“We’ve lost so many species; we’ve lost Boston mackerel, we lost our codfish, we lost whiting, weakfish, now the bluefish. For the last two years, I had to give up my bluefishing – that really killed me.

“The National Marine Fisheries Service has already set a 28 percent reduction in sea bass for the coming year, and … I think last summer we were only allowed to catch three (per angler.) They’re also talking about limiting it to one tuna per man. They’re 30-hour trips for tuna and we charge $400 per person and they’re talking about limiting it to one tuna. Stripers are already at one for next fall.”

But the list of restrictions keeps growing. National Marine Fisheries Service closed the months of January and February to fishing for species that used to be lucrative. “That’s like the height of our sea bass and porgy fishing.

“This is the thing: for 30 years, they make us fill out fishing reports – how many people we had, and an estimate of how many fish and what species of fish we catch. We always thought they would be using that information to help us, but actually, it’s the opposite. They use it against us.”

Too many closures leave boat owners asking, “How do you pay your bills?” And they hurt crewmembers by cutting working time.

“It’s a shoestring budget as it is. And we put so much money back into it all the time; it was kept perfect. It’s expensive to do that,” Ron said.

Cindy started working for Ron in 1975, when night bluefishing trips were most popular. “There were 13 boats going out every single night,” she said. Over the years, the Doris Mae IV was the last to keep up that activity.

Marriage Proposal; A Good Catch

As the two good-naturedly finished each other’s stories, Ron obliged to tell how they got married 39 years ago. She worked in the galley, and he was supposed to be pitching in for her salary. The punch line is that, “I kept forgetting to pay her all the time. By the end of the summer, I owed her a bunch of money, and I thought maybe it would be cheaper to marry her.”

When people laugh, he adds, “I was wrong, by the way,” and keeps going with, “Wasn’t your first engagement ring a flip top from a Budweiser can?”

“I still have it,” came the answer from Cindy.

“And it’s funny how everything worked out,” Ron continued. “We went to buy a diamond ring and we went to Cherry Hill Mall, and it was Bailey Banks and Biddle. We saw this ring; it was a lot of money. I went there and I had no money on me; I thought we were just looking. But we really loved that ring. The guy gave it to us and let us walk out of the store with not a dollar down.”

The next generation of the Ebles loves to fish, too, and they have taken their children on board as well, so three generations have enjoyed the boat.

Lamentable. Changing Times

Last March, the family mourned the death from cancer of youngest brother Wayne, who chartered the Searcher II.

Now there are only two fishing headboats left in town – Miss Barnegat Light and Carolyn Ann III, both docked at 18th Street – after departure of the Doris Mae IV.

“It’s a nice, big, clean boat; and it’s just a shame that it’s going out of town,” commented Larson, a Viking Village fishing fleet owner. “There used to be 18 of those boats and now there’s only two.” He added that the fishing laws made and enforced by the state and federal governments “are going to ruin this industry.”

Gutman told the Ebles he wanted a bigger boat than his 77-footer for one-, two- and three-day offshore trips. And he invited the Ebles to come up and see her if they wanted to.

“He told me and Charlie the other day, he says, ‘Hey look, if I don’t have a trip and you guys just want to go fishing, just come up and take the boat.’”

Meanwhile a good customer of the Doris Mae IV offered to sell his 26-foot Ablemarle to Ron. He bought it. It will be named the Doris Maeson after both Ron’s mom and his granddaughter, Maeson.

“He wasn’t getting out of this business without knowing that he was going to have a boat,” Cindy assured.

“I know some good fishing spots out there, a few,” Ron deadpanned.

The life change is “going to take a while to sink in,” he said. “But I had a good life. They say if you love your work, you never work a day in your life. I never worked.

“I just went fishing every day.”

- Reposted from The Sandpaper, 1/7/15 

Doris Mae IV Setting Off to New Port

Barnegat Light fishing family calls it quits

B9315692019Z.1_20150102151149_000_GG19I8T31.1-0The Eble family has made their last trip on the Doris Mae IV.

The fishing family that has been a fixture in Barnegat Light for nearly 70 years has decided to pack in it. A source from the family said increasingly burdening fishery management policies coupled with three years of poor bluefish fishing made up their mind to sell their boat and get out.

“I really wanted to stay in the business another five to 10 years but National Marine Fishery Service’s rules and regulations are killing us. They’re putting us out of business,” said Capt. Charlie Eble.

Eble’s father, Charlie Eble Sr. started the family in the recreational fishing industry in 1947. Charlie and his two brothers Ron and Wayne made their livelihood working on their family boats running charters and party boat trips.

Wayne Eble passed away in 2014 at the age of 51 and Charlie Eble said his boat the Searcher II is also for sale.

After three summers of little to no bluefish — a staple fish of their tourist business — Charlie Eble said it was another federal closure of the winter black sea bass season that forced them out.

“We’re shut down on sea bass. What am I going to going to fish for from now until spring?” said Eble.

Once a year round industry, the black sea bass fishery has become more regulated by regional management bodies overseen by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) beginning in October of 2009 when the government abruptly closed the fishery for the first time.

Since then lower bag limits and in-season closures have become the norm, making it harder for party boats who rely on the tasty, bottom dwelling species to survive. This year the winter season is again closed starting Jan. 1.

“It doesn’t look like it’s going to get any easier. They’re talking about another reduction in the sea bass, cutting the striped bass down to one fish,” said Eble. “It’s time to throw in the towel.”

Eble said they sold their 100-foot party boat Doris Mae IV to Jeff Gutman, who operates two party boats, the Voyager in Point Pleasant Beach and the Angler in Atlantic Highlands.

- Reposted from The Asbury Park Press, 1/5/15 

Long-time Barnegat Light fishing family calls it quits



Barnegat Light singer talks about The Voice

t600-NUP_164386_4146In an interview on Thursday, December 18, just two days after he placed second on the “The Voice” TV singing competition, former Barnegat Light resident Matt McAndrew was still riding high after his lengthy run on the show.

“I’m just happy about everything,” he said. “I feel like I’m in a pretty good spot right now.”

The Southern Regional High School grad has been shining brighter than Ol’ Barney itself. On Monday night, he performed an original tune, “Wasted Love.” The song was on top of the iTunes charts for the competition while also picking up a ton of Youtube views. Even #WastedLove was a trending topic in Philadelphia on Twitter well into Tuesday afternoon.

He was matched up against Chris Jamison, Craig Wayne Boyd and Damien going into the show’s Tuesday night finale. Boyd won the show.

McAndrew said that in a dress rehearsal before Tuesday’s announcement of the winner, the four finalists’ names were called out in a random placement. For that random placing, McAndrew landed in fourth. He said that was the moment in which he realized that he’d be all right with wherever he placed. He further said he felt the finale had more of an awards ceremony atmosphere than the feeling being eliminated.

“I felt like it was an honor for all of us,” said the 23-year-old.

McAndrew did say as the finale got down to the final two contestants that he was hoping he would place first. Yet when that did not happen, McAndrew gave Boyd a hug because he was truly happy for his opponent. From that point forward as the result sunk in, he was just happy. He was happy for what he had been able to accomplish on the show. He mentioned the success he has had on the iTunes charts, noting “Wasted Love” in particular. He said, honestly, he may be happier about those charts than anything else.

He added as his time progressed on the show, he was able to perform better and better under pressure.

“When people are watching and it really counts, I don’t get nervous about anything,” McAndrew said. “I feel at ease.

With “Wasted Love” on Monday night, he said, “I wanted to deliver a really great performance, and I just had a lot of fun doing it.” Monday marked the first time original songs were done on the show.

“I didn’t know what to expect,” McAndrew said. “As with everything, (coach and Maroon 5 lead singer Adam Levine) was involved and I give him a lot of credit. We didn’t write the songs. They were found for us. So, Adam had to listen to hundreds and hundreds of emails with songs coming in.”

McAndrew said Levine was the one who selected the song for him and felt good about that selection. Levine played McAndrew a demo of the song, and his reaction was: “oh yeah, cool.” He added he was able to appreciate the tune right away because of its lyrics – something he felt comfortable singing. He was also a fan of the tune because it mixes a little bit of everything he has done up to this point. He especially noted the tune’s relation to Hozier’s “Take Me to Church” because of its, as he describes, “agnostic, gospel feel.”

McAndrew added, “like everything on the show,” producing “Wasted Love” was a quick process. He explained he was in the vocal booth for under an hour. Then, the music video was produced in about four hours. Despite the fast manner in which the tune was produced, McAndrew noted that it has been really well received.

Now, he hopes to put out another tune as a follow-up to “Wasted Love.”

“I hope to get some new music out for you guys – hopefully sooner rather than later,” McAndrew said. “(I hope) people just give me places to go and things to do so I’m not sitting in my house.”

During his introduction on the first episode of the season, McAndrew pointed to his first tattoo: an empty box on the back of his wrist. If he signs with a record label, a check will be added to that box. The grand prize if McAndrew had won: a record deal. That box may not have been able to be checked on Tuesday night, as many “McFANdrews” had hoped, but it appears McAndrew has made a name for himself.

The singer also noted the “awesome” support he has had from his hometown area.

In an October interview, McAndrew said this experience was made possible with a little help from his best friend, Manahawkin resident Matthew Hillblom. Hillblom found out the show had a casting call in Philadelphia.

“He was the one who was like, ‘Dude, you’re in Philly. It’s right in your hometown. Like, you don’t really have any excuse to not do it,’” McAndrew said in October.

The Southern Class of 2009 grad made a return to his alma mater back in the fall. He said the experience was crazy, noting that the event had sold out. Yet he figured the atmosphere would be relatively mundane. It was not. In a November interview, McAndrew said the kids were filled with enthusiasm and excitement, which made the event “surpass (his) wildest dreams.”

During that November interview, he said his schedule has been jam-packed, lasting from 4 a.m. until 11 p.m. at times. On that day of McAndrew’s interview with The SandPaper, he started the day early for a media tour. Then, there was a rehearsal for the show’s group song, shooting a digital short and a photo shoot. After the 4 p.m. SandPaper interview (eastern time), he had another rehearsal for a new song with Levine.

Fast forward, McAndrew said he hopes to have a schedule and experiences similar to this again in the future. He said since the live rounds, he was just trying to avoid elimination out of a fear it would lead to having a bunch of downtime where he would just worry about his future. Now he feels that his career will continue to move forward, and with decent momentum.

McAndrew’s hometown appears to still be on his mind, though. He feels the area can be sort of secluded and tight-knit, things he really appreciates. He loves the scenery and people. As for the latter, he again thanked everyone for their support. Heading into Tuesday’s finale, Southern Regional High School’s front sign was hyping McAndrew and the halls were filled with signs reminding students and staff to support him.

Now he said he looks forward to returning to the area during the winter. When doing so he hopes to catch up with some folks. However, for himself, he is looking forward to being on a deserted beach to take time and reflect on what has transpired.

“It’s what I used to do growing up,” McAndrew said.

In that October interview, McAndrew said he spent much of his childhood figuring out who he was as a person. To do so, he would indulge himself in music and walking the beach by himself. He did these things with the hope he would be the “one anomaly” that would live his dreams. Reflecting on these moments, he called the Island beautiful and a great place to grow up.

“Now, living in Philly, I appreciate it in a different way,” McAndrew said in October. “It’s just so beautiful. As beautiful and serene as it is, it obviously doesn’t afford you the same opportunities musically and culturally as living in a major city does. But it was a great, isolated place for me to dream and build on things.”

Now, he will have the opportunity to build on his experiences with “The Voice.”

- Reposted from The Sandpaper, 12/19/14 

Pottery Barge in Ship Bottom is closing 12/30/14

Pottery Barge SoldThe Pottery Barge will be closing its doors for the final time on Dec. 30, 2014, confirmed executors of the property, who provided the following statement on behalf of the owners, but could not comment beyond that on Dec. 16 because the sale of the building is not yet final, they said.

The store and building at 2101 Long Beach Blvd. are owned by the estate of the late David O. DeWitt, and the DeWitt family has operated the gift shop for the past 23 years. It had been an Island icon for many years before that. The name comes from the fact that the business was once located in Loveladies on a barge.

“Many customers will be saddened to learn of the store’s closing, but the family feels that it is time,” said the statement provided this week.

“We wish to thank all of our customers for their business over the years. We appreciate the wonderful comments about our comeback after Superstorm Sandy.

“We hope to see you before we close, especially since we are having a 50% off sale on most items. We wish everyone a happy & healthy new year and a wonderful summer on LBI.”

The store had re-opened nine months after the October 2012 superstorm, which had broken through the plate glass windows and destroyed 4,000 items. Four feet of water inundated the previous inventory.

At that time, the family had decided to restore the building and re-open for business. All during renovations, passersby would knock on the windows and ask when it would be open again.

Generations remember browsing through the two large front rooms of glassware, pottery and shore-themed merchandise, and the extensive line of kitchenware in the rear.

- Reposted from The Sandpaper, 12/16/14 

Pottery Barge in Ship Bottom is closing 12/30/14

Oyster Creek’s Siren Test & Emergency Procedures

Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station in Lacey Township performed its twice-yearly, full-volume siren test Tuesday, as it does on the first Tuesday of December and June each year. For three minutes, everyone in Barnegat, Stafford, Waretown and on Long Beach Island should have taken note of the high-pitched monotone sound as an important reminder, but not as an indication of anything out of the ordinary.

Suzanne D’Ambrosio, communications director for Exelon Corp. (Oyster Creek’s parent company), explained that in a real emergency, the sirens notify everyone within a 10-mile radius of the plant not to panic or evacuate but simply to turn on the nearest radio or television for important information from the Emergency Alert System. Tune to AM radio 1310 or 1160; or FM 95.9, 98.5, 92.7 or 100.1. All 42 sirens were replaced this year with new state-of-the-art units with battery backup. The total project, in excess of $11 million, involved the replacement of 400 sirens at all of Exelon’s mid-Atlantic sites, including Limerick Generating Station, Three Mile Island Generating Station and Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station.

Locally, the power plant has one siren in Barnegat Light, one in Harvey Cedars, two in Long Beach Township, five in Stafford, six in Barnegat and three in Waretown. An informational pamphlet about safety procedures is periodically sent to residents within the impact zone and is also available online to download and print through the Ocean County Sheriff’s Officeand the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management.

- Reposted from The Sandpaper, 12/3/14 

Oyster Creek’s Siren Test & Emergency Procedures

Jersey Shore braces for flooding, strong winds

New Jersey will face wide-ranging weather threats from a strong nor’easter Tuesday, and Shore area officials are gearing up for it.

The coastal storm is expected to spawn moderate coastal flooding, dump heavy rain that could cause inland flooding and whip up strong winds, according to the service.

A coastal flood warning was in effect, along with a wind advisory. The strongest gusts were expected to be around 45 mph in coastal areas. A gale warning was in effect for coastal waters, with seas of 9 to 14 feet forecast, according to the weather service Mount Holly Office.

A flood watch was also in effect, with rainfall totals expected to approach or top 2 inches.

The storm will peak Tuesday morning during high tide, Mount Holly meteorologist Mitchell Gaines said.

The nor’easter was expected to be slower moving once it reaches our area and to the north, and precipitation could last through Wednesday, particularly the farther north you go, according to a Monday briefing by Gaines.

Snowfall in Monmouth and Ocean counties could range from zero to a couple of inches through 7 p.m. Wednesday, according to experimental snow forecast maps.

Emergency responders throughout the Shore, including areas hit hard by superstorm Sandy, are preparing for the brunt of the storm.

In Mantoloking, local authorities will be monitoring Route 35 in case of any flooding from rainwater drains, said Robert McIntyre, coordinator for the Mantoloking Borough Office of Emergency Management. Drivers should plan for detours in some areas and avoid driving through roads with heavy flooding.

The Mantoloking beaches from Lyman Street South to Brick are closed, according to the Mantoloking Police Department’s Facebook page. The beaches were already closed after the storm in October due to the beach erosion that resulted, McIntyre said. Still, residents are advised to steer clear of the area, especially during the high tide.

Moderate coastal flooding is projected. In Mantoloking, which has not yet fully recovered from Sandy, a 3.5-mile sea wall was placed in the Mantoloking beach earlier this year as part of efforts to rebuild beaches. McIntyre said the major repairs are expected this summer, when the borough starts the Army Corps of Engineers’ beach nourishment program.

The police department contacted private contractors with construction permits in the borough, urging them to secure any materials that could float or be blown away.

Union Beach is making automated calls to residents who signed up for the reverse 911 service, encouraging them to move their cars to the former Bradlees parking lot at 1105 New Jersey 36, borough administrator Jennifer Wenson Maier said.

Sea Bright notified residents of expected coastal flooding beginning with Monday night’s high tide at 10:30 p.m. The town added an alert telling residents that the track of the nor’easter may exacerbate those flooding issues.

The Toms River Office of Emergency Management is handing out free sandbags at the East Dover Firehouse at 629 Fischer Blvd. and at the Third Avenue parking lot, an administrator said. Residents are also encouraged to clean out their storm drains.

Gaines said the rain is expected to let up briefly Tuesday night, but rain showers could continue Wednesday with a chance of showers Thursday. As temperatures drop to freezing, inland areas could see rain turn into snow Tuesday night or Wednesday as the storm moves out of New Jersey.

Analysts said they don’t expect much beach erosion in Monmouth County and most of Ocean County. Stewart Farrell, director of the Richard Stockton Coastal Research Center in Port Republic, said Mantoloking likely will see more beach erosion and flooding.

- Reposted from The Asbury Park Press, 12/9/14 

Jersey Shore braces for flooding, strong winds