The attached letter from Mayor Kelaher addresses the governing body’s concerns regarding the elevation of the water level in the Barnegat Bay and the FEMA Base Flood Elevation maps.
December 31, 2012
Commissioner Bob Martin
New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection
401 East State Street, 7th Floor, East Wing
P.O. Box 402
Trenton, New Jersey 08625-402
Re: Barnegat Bay
Dear Commissioner Martin:
As you know, Hurricane Sandy not only ravaged our barrier island, but also devastated our low lying mainland areas that border on Barnegat Bay, damaging or destroying thousands of homes.
Since Sandy, we have experienced two subsequent floodings of the same areas. The first one on Friday, December 21, 2012, and the second one on Thursday, December 27, 2012.
After Sandy, thousands of our residents began to rehabilitate their homes only to have these efforts derailed by the new flood waters.
Last week, the Asbury Park Press published a report quoting an engineering report from the engineering firm, Birdsall & Company. The engineering report noted that over 1 million cubic yards of sand that had washed over the barrier island was now deposited at the bottom of Barnegat Bay causing an elevation of the water level in the bay.
As you can imagine, this report has triggered hundreds of inquiries to our town hall and I am sure the other municipal offices of towns bordering on the bay. The Press article was accompanied by an area photo of the bay that showed what appeared to be two visible large sand bars.
In addition to the confusion and uncertainty recently caused by the issuance of the new FEMA Base Flood Elevation maps, our residents are wondering if this is the “new normal” and are wondering what they should do with respect to the rehabilitation of their homes.
Will you please use the resources of your department as soon as possible to evaluate the contents of this engineering report and advise if it is correct and if so, what steps should be taken to correct this serious problem? The uncertainty is already delaying our recovery efforts. I have taken the liberty of sending a copy of this letter to the members of the Ocean County Mayor’s Association because I know that all of the mayors are confronted with the same crisis.
I am anxiously awaiting your reply.
Thomas F. Kelaher