Parts of Jersey Shore beaches will be closed past Memorial Day after storm causes erosion

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Beach erosion following last weekend’s fierce coastal storm has created additional headaches in several towns with Memorial Day weekend only two weeks away.

The Ortley Beach section of Toms River, North Wildwood and Stone Harbor are among the places where tides and strong winds took their toll — wiping away massive amounts of sand, and producing “cliffs” near the diminished dunes, officials in those towns said.

There was also beach erosion in Brigantine, according to Real Brigantine, a local news website. Town officials there couldn’t be reached by NJ Advance Media.

Ortley Beach experienced erosion primarily between 4th Street and 8th Street and will need to spend approximately $200,000 to replenish lost sand, Mayor Maurice “Mo” Hill said in a phone interview Thursday.

When Memorial Day weekend rolls around, about 75% of the beach will be accessible, with the rest closed off because there won’t be walkovers due to the cliffs, which are currently about 5 to 6 feet high, the mayor said.

The township council expects to award a contract at its meeting on May 25 meeting with construction beginning shortly thereafter. Work to replace the sand will take about 2 to 3 weeks.

“We’ll be completed by mid-June when school is letting out and the season is starting to really heat up,” Hill said.

Beach Erosion

A pedestrian walkway damaged by beach erosion in Ortley Beach,N.J. Thursday, May 12, 2022.Noah K. Murray | for NJ Advance

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is scheduled to return to Ortley Beach “late this year or early next year” for the next phase of its replenishment project, the mayor said. That is part of a long-term periodic nourishment following the completion of a big beach replenishment between Manasquan Inlet to Barnegat Inlet that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers completed in July 2019.

Near the southern tip of the sate, North Wildwood lost about one-third of the roughly $4 million in sand it had piled up to refurbish its beaches, Mayor Patrick Rosenello said. While some sand that settled in the ocean close to the shore will eventually push back onto the beach, much of it might be gone for good.

Beaches between 3rd Avenue and 7th Avenue lost a signifiant amount of sand. Beaches from 7th Avenue to 15hth Avenue also took a hit. One cliff is about 20 feet high, the mayor said.

Portions of the beach will not be ready to open for the holiday weekend and those areas will be clearly marked, Rosenello said.

“The storm has caused a major delay in our project,” said Rosenello in explaining that each spring North Wildwood trucks in sand from Wildwood. Work was suspended in the days leading up to the storm and hasn’t been able to resume this week due to winds and the ocean being so high.

North Wildwood is also in the midst of a long-term project being handled by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

“North Wildwood is experiencing significant erosion of its berm and dune,” the corps said in July 2021. “What was the largest beach in the state now suffers from tidal flooding and wave run-up over a formerly protective beach. North Wildwood has lost approximately 1,000 feet of beach during the past 5-10 years.”

In Stone Harbor, meanwhile, “significant” erosion took place between 90th and 111th Streets, according to Mayor Judith Davies-Dunhour.

“It is still too early to report on the exact quantity of sand that was lost, but we do know that that a few feet of dunes were cut back on the seaward side and beach elevation was reduced,” Davies-Dunhour said in an emailed statement. ”Once tide levels return to normal, some natural beach regeneration is anticipated, as sand that has been temporarily deposited in deeper water returns to the beach.”

The borough said it will replace sand on a small scale before the holiday weekend with a beachfill project planned for later in the year.

In addition, the Stockton University Coastal Research Center will perform emergency beach surveys to determine total beach loss in Stone Harbor, starting as soon as next week.

Other places fared better. While North Wildwood has a big replenishment job ahead, Wildwood was spared, a spokeswoman said. So was one of the most popular spots in Ocean County — Seaside Heights.

“We lucked out,” Seaside Heights Mayor Tony Vaz said. “We’re good, thank God.”

Island Beach State Park experienced minor erosion but no beach closures are expected on Memorial Day weekend, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Environmental Protection said.

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Jeff Goldman may be reached at jeff_goldman@njadvancemedia.com.

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