Storm causes flooding in Sandy-damaged shore towns
MANTOLOKING, N.J. (AP) — A lingering late-winter storm brought new damage Thursday to parts of the Jersey shore still struggling to recover from Superstorm Sandy, including a dune breach in a hard-hit town that forced the temporary closure of a major coastal highway.
Pounding surf broke through a temporary dune in Mantoloking during the early-morning high tide, around 3 a.m.
The breach sent water flowing through onto the highway, forcing officials to close a section of Route 35, from Herbert Street to the Bay Head border for eight hours. It was reopened shortly after 11 a.m. after front-end loaders and street sweepers cleared sand from the roadway.
The state Department of Transportation, Mantoloking's own public works crews and contractors were scooping and pushing sand back into the breach.
"They're trying to keep the dune system intact," Police Chief Mark Wright said. "We need to get this fixed before the next high tide, which is at 3 o'clock."
The waves broke through the dunes between the remnants of two oceanfront houses obliterated by the October storm. But the breach was far less serious than the one that occurred during Sandy, which cut a channel between the ocean on one side and Barnegat Bay on the other, severing Mantoloking in two. That breach was repaired in a massive public works effort, and buttressed by a thick steel wall protecting the Mantoloking Bridge, part of which was wiped out by the October breach.
Every one of the 521 homes in Mantoloking was damaged to some degree by Sandy; scores were destroyed and hundreds of others suffered major damage.
Flooding also remained a problem in other shore towns, including Sea Bright, where firefighters extinguished a blaze in a vacant commercial building that was caused by a downed electrical line. Water on roads was also forcing closures in towns including Monmouth Beach, Absecon, Aberdeen, Egg Harbor Township, Manasquan and Wildwood. Parts of Long Beach Island also experienced flooding during Thursday's high tide just before 6 a.m.
A coastal flood warning remains in effect until 9 a.m. Friday, but forecasters were not expecting Thursday's wind to be as strong as Wednesday, when gusts exceeding 60 mph were recorded in many places along the ocean.
The storm began Wednesday, causing damage to buildings in southern New Jersey, including a condominium complex in Stone Harbor that lost part of its roof, and in Atlantic City, where a lifeguard building suffered similar damage.
Northern New Jersey faces the possibility of 2 to 4 inches of snow from Thursday night into Friday morning. Light snow was falling along the Jersey shore Thursday morning, but with temperatures above freezing, it was not accumulating.
Scattered power failures remained, mainly in Cape May County, with fewer than 1,200 customers affected.
Wayne Parry can be reached at http://twitter.com/WayneParryAC