- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 10, 2014

MANTOLOKING, N.J. (AP) - A storm that raked New Jersey with high winds and rain caused minor to moderate erosion to the state’s beaches, some of which were only recently widened after Superstorm Sandy.

Tuesday’s nor’easter washed away sand in many places and exposed part of the steel sea wall that’s still being installed in Mantoloking and Brick.

Work crews were out with heavy equipment Wednesday pushing sand onto eroded dunes in parts of the shore. The statewide erosion ranged from minor to moderate, said Stewart Farrell, director of the Coastal Research Center at Richard Stockton College.

He said beaches that recently had been replenished fared better than those that hadn’t.

“Mantoloking, Ortley Beach, Bay Head and places like that all had moderate erosion because there wasn’t all that much beach there to begin with,” Farrell said. “Whereas in Manasquan and Spring Lake, the erosion was pretty minor.”

Farrell said he expected significant erosion in several spots in Cape May County - including Cape May, Strathmere, North Wildwood and Avalon - based on past storms.

The storm exposed the top of the $23.8 million steel sea wall project in Mantoloking and Brick, two of the hardest hit communities during Sandy in October 2012.

“The wall has been exposed in a couple locations, but the wall held,” said Chris Niebling, deputy operations chief for the Mantoloking Office of Emergency Management. “It has done and will continue to do its job. Without the wall, at a minimum we might have had washovers across Route 35, or worse, breaches in several places.”

He said the contractor continuing to install the wall will re-cover its exposed sections in the coming weeks.

The wall was approved by the federal government, which is paying for 80 percent of it, after nearly every one of Mantoloking’s 521 homes was damaged or destroyed by Sandy.

Environmentalists oppose the wall, saying it will only hasten erosion of the beach in front of it when waves pound against it and scour sand at its base. Farrell said waves already were lapping against the base of the wall at low tide during the last two days, creating a drop-off of more than 9 feet from the top of the dune to the beach below.

“Without it, they probably would have lost at least a third of the dune behind it,” he said. “It definitely protected the homes and Route 35. But if I were a striper fisherman, I’d need a rappelling rope to get down onto the beach and back up from it.”

Larry Ragonese, a spokesman for the state Department of Environmental Protection, said the agency has not received any reports of major erosion or threats to property after the storm.

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Wayne Parry can be reached at https://twitter.com/WayneParryAC


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