VENTNOR — Results from a yearlong resiliency study showed how flooding affected the area in and around the Dorset Avenue bridge and how to alleviate future flooding through infrastructure, prioritizing flood mitigation improvement projects and determining crucial vulnerabilities, such as holes in walls in low-lying areas.
“This was a study to look at how we can add options to make that better. This does not force us to do anything at this point,” said Mayor Lance Landgraf. “This was really a study to show us where we are, what happens with certain elevations of tides and floods, and rain events.
Marc DeBlasio, one of the city’s consultant engineers, worked with his team and municipal engineer Ed Stinson to conduct the study, which was funded by a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
“This report was developed for the purpose of educating the city, public and private property owners of the existing flooding challenges facing the city,” DeBlasio said.
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The study area roughly south of Calvert Avenue and north and east of Inside Thorofare is “an area that we all know floods quite often,” Landgraf said.
Although the area around the Dorset Avenue bridge is protected by a system of bulkheads owned by private property owners and varying in heights and materials, along with storm sewers and pump stations, the study showed the tide gauge water elevation level in the area was over 2 feet 263 times. The tide went over 2½ feet 162 times, and above 3 feet 19 times.
DeBlasio said those tide gauge numbers were important to see the “sweet spot” over 3 feet where the city could see a dramatic drop-off in flooding.
The engineers categorized their recommendations into three categories.
Category A was infrastructure projects such as elevating roads in cooperation with private property owners, replacing or retrofitting bulkheads to meet height medians and building pump stations at strategic locations along the bay. Retrofitting, replacing and supplementing storm sewer inlets and pipes would also help, according to the report.
Category B was preventive actions to reduce the area’s susceptibility to flooding, such as enacting ordinances that require new bulkheads to be constructed at a minimum 8 foot elevation, considering lot grading and drainage ordinances, adopting policy on current sea level rise based on data collected by Rutgers University and recommendations from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, and encouraging elevating or floodproofing new and existing buildings.
Category C consisted of ways the city could preserve and restore its natural resources through corporate partnerships, such as continuing to participate in the New Jersey Coastal Coalition and Atlantic County Hazard Mitigation Plan.
Other suggestions included evaluating local ordinances to ensure they’re consistent with DEP and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers regulations, preserving open spaces prone to flooding and evaluating areas in the city that will become vulnerable to future flooding.
The next step for the city is to authorize a pump station design via ordinance at next month’s meeting by applying for grant funding.
“This can change our community if this is done, even if half of it is done,” said Landgraf. “I think this can change the lives of people living in the Heights and traveling throughout the Heights.”
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