While the initial lashing the Jersey Shore took from the remnants of Tropical Storm Ophelia caused relatively minor damage to local beaches, several days of pounding surf in its wake have more severely eroded Ortley Beach’s oceanfront, leading to the all-too-common “cliffs” to form at the dune line.
Several beach entrances were physically closed Wednesday as the surf carved out about a three-foot drop between the dune crossover and the beach berm. The intensity of the waves on Wednesday were especially dangerous, with no room between the beach entrance and onshore swells driven by northeast winds. Fencing could be seen floating in the surf, occasionally washing up on shore before being carried out to sea again. Waves continuously reached entrance locations.
At town hall, Mayor Maurice “Mo” Hill urged council members to include between $300,000 and $500,000 in next year’s township operating budget for spring sand deliveries; his term expires Dec. 31 and his successor will be chosen in November’s election.
“We’ve lost about three feet at the toe of the dune, however we still have a month of hurricane season,” said Hill, who toured the beaches with Township Engineer Robert Chankalian earlier this week. “As we remember from 2012, Sandy didn’t hit until the end of October.”
The region has been scheduled for a federal beach replenishment project for about two years, which has seen continuous delays in the bidding process, leaving it up in the air whether help will arrive after the fall, winter and spring storm seasons. The project will include a re-engineering of Ortley Beach and the inclusion of a larger beach berm, however it remains to be seen when a contractor will be selected and what the construction schedule may look like.
“Although I’ll be leaving office before the next budget, we should look for about $300,000 to $500,000 in there because I don’t know if the Army Corps is going to get there to do the beach replenishment,” Hill said. “We will need to restore those dunes, and 300-to-500 [thousand] has been the number for the last several seasons now.”
This season, the township restored beaches the week of Memorial Day at its own cost in order to reopen many of the same entrances that are now closed again due to storm damage.