Wednesday, November 14, 2012

SIA Newsletter 11 14 2012 - Superstorm Sandy and Strathmere

To All Strathmere and Whale Beach Homeowners and Visitors,

We know this is a bit delayed, but all of us have been pretty busy lately...

We'll try to recap some of what went on with Sandy, knowing that most of you have been reading about it in the newspapers, internet, Facebook, etc.

Most of us had evacuated by low tide on Sunday. Sandy was scheduled to make landfall around midnight Monday night, but it was pushing wind and water ahead of it for two days. We saw some pictures on Facebook that showed the potential for Monday night. Greg Bennett posted these pictures at high tide Monday morning:

Brian Riordan posted this picture of Bayview Drive around low tide that afternoon.

Gary Riordan, Jr. posted this picture at about 5:30 pm, halfway between low tide and high tide:


Gary also posted this video, taken around the same time, while standing up on the septic field at Twisties. Scary!
By the way, it turned out that "social media", like Facebook, was a wonderful way to communicate information in a situation like Sandy.
Brian, Gary Jr., Greg and Ted Kingston posted pictures and information on Facebook that were subsequently posted on the SIA Facebook page. We urge you to learn to use this media (we're still learning). Our thanks to them (especially Ted) and also to Linda Bateman, who posted much of the info on the SIA FB page, and to Carol Baker who posted much info on the Strathmere Blog.

That (Monday) evening we watched TV with horror as they predicted landfall between Stone Harbor and Ocean City - which is exactly where Strathmere is. Sandy sped up some and came ashore around 8:00 pm. Since it came ashore after dark, there are almost no pictures available from that time. The actual landfall center of the storm was farther north, right over Brigantine, but those who remained here said the eye was quite apparent as it passed over. Here is the US Geological Survey plot of the storm center, showing Absecon Island and Ocean City south of the center:


It turned out that we were very fortunate, because there seemed to be no huge "surge" associated with the eye; instead the counter-clockwise winds around it meant that water was driven onshore in a far worse manner north of the center. Damage to Long Beach Island, the Barnegat Peninsula and towns north all the way to NYC was horrific.
Not so with Strathmere. The ocean did not breach our dunes, so all the water came from the bay. It was apparently as high or slightly higher than the March, 1962 storm, but because of the track (and our dunes) there was little wave action (and it did not last for five high tides), so we did not have structural damage to Strathmere homes such as occurred in 1962, or from Sandy in towns north of the center.

The water did breach the dunes in Whale Beach, and basically moved them onto Ocean Drive, closing access to Sea Isle for days. The causeway on the far side of the toll bridge was undermined and one lane of the road was (is) closed.

If you haven't noticed it, our island slopes downward from ocean to bay. Since the ocean did not breach the dunes, and since the storm center was north of us, driving the counter-clockwise winds into us from the bay, the water and damage was higher the closer you were to the bay. There was five feet or more of water along Bayview Drive, while some homes only a step or two above ground level near the beach did not get water in them.

There seems to have been very little structural damage to homes in Strathmere, although many will need new floors, insulation, drywall and of course new first floor furniture.

There was much damage to docks, like these fixed docks:

and floating docks that went over their pilings and ended up all over town:
(note also the waterline on the house)

George Welker led a team that went all over town recovering and returning floating docks.

We don't have a lot of trees on the island, but we have a few less now. Tree roots that go down very far hit salt water, so they don't have a deep root system:

The saddest thing, of course, was the sight of folks' first floor belongings placed at the curb. This is only one of many, many scenes of sorrow:

As to our beaches, we did hear informally that we lost about two feet of beach. Certainly the second line of dunes that had started to develop toward the ocean are no longer there - looks like they helped absorb whatever surge we got... Our impression, though, is that the storm actually "made beach", pushing sand up toward the dunes and partially burying the dune fences there.

When you look at the curbside furniture in the picture above, know what an amazing job the Upper Township Public Works guys did! They were wonderful! As fast as folks emptied their homes of waterlogged sofas, rugs, washers, dryers, refrigerators, etc, the Public Works guys picked everything up and kept offering to help. If you couldn't carry something out of your house, they offered to help you carry it. They were here as soon as folks were allowed back and worked all day that Saturday and Sunday, and they did it all with a smile on their collective faces!

We all know Strathmere and Upper Township have had their differences, but we cannot say enough good things about Upper's response to this storm. Ella Diamond and Ed Tettemer provided lunches for the workers, and the SIA did a catered luch for 30 workers at their garage to express our gratitude.

These pictures are actually taken just as the subsequent nor'easter was about to hit, but are emblematic of the work of the Upper guys:

Speaking of Ed Tettemer, he organized a "Community Dinner" Saturday night, November 3, and put out a spread for over 70 people. What a great thing!
Here Ed and Lyn work on preparations:

Folks partake...


and swap cleanup stories...

Finally, as the evening ended, Herb Hollinger, Jr. rose to give a moving testimonial to the people and spirit of Strathmere, and paid tribute to the Township workers:
Thanks, Herb - and of course, Ed!


Many people in town need help as a result of the storm, and the SIA, the SFEC, the Fire Company and the Citizens' organization are teaming with the Strathmere United Methodist Church to establish SURF - Strathmere United Relief Fund - to accept and distribute donations. Much more on that in a subsequent newsletter.


As badly as Strathmere was hit, and as much as some of our folks need help, we can only be grateful that Sandy chose to come ashore to our north and not to our south. Scenes from Long Beach Island are quite bad, but scenes of the Barnegat Peninsula, where the surge not only drove the water higher than we got, but also caused the high water to last longer, are just appalling.

Go to "full screen" on these...

Here are films of Mantoloking, NJ, where a new inlet was cut right through an inhabited block, and gas fires burn where homes used to be:
More aerial views of the same area.
Here is a bus tour of Lavallette and Ortley Beach (ignore the laughter):
Several of you have forwarded the following website, which provides pictures all along the coast (including Strathmere) before (blue dots) and after (red dots) the storm. It's really fascinating, once you figure it out. Click right in the center of a dot, and then click again in the small picture that comes up.



From the Strathmere Improvement Association -
Linda Bateman   
Elaine Holsomback      
Donna Diefenderfer       
Dorothy Addario       
Ken Weaver


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