MARGATE — As Tropical Storm Jose churned up the ocean, dangerous conditions persisted on the beach, where the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been implementing Gov. Chris Christie’s order to build one contiguous sand dune along the entire New Jersey coastline.
Residents have been posting photographs and videos on several Margate Facebook pages, including one that shows a photograph of a man thigh-deep in liquefied sand.
A video posted by Ross Gardner shows the beach at high tide Monday, Sept. 18, on Osborne Avenue, with sea water flowing through a temporary outfall pipe to the landward side of the dune, up to the scuppers and onto the street. Yet another shows street flooding Tuesday morning on Nassau Avenue where the water is trapped and cannot drain onto the beach.
Spokesman Stephen Rochette said the Army Corps was working to acquire check valves for the temporary outfall pipes to “mitigate tidal water coming back up them.”
Rochette said the Army Corps would continue to employ temporary measures to mitigate ponding and drainage issues until a manifold system with outfall pipes can be constructed at federal expense.
On Saturday afternoon, resident Joe Doyle took it upon himself to set up his beach chair near “quicksand” that formed at the water’s edge on Mansfield Avenue to warn residents of the dangers they faced strolling on the beach. One man went nearly hip high into a soft-sand area, and Doyle asked if he could take his picture to warn city officials of the dangerous situation.
“I got to the beach around 3 p.m. and water was coming up over the top ridge. That’s where I saw three people go in,” he said. “Every couple of feet there was a soft spot.”
He said he helped an older man in his 60s.
“I had to give him a hand out,” Doyle said. “It was solid in one place and soft in another.”
Doyle, who did not support the dune project and voted against it, said he tried to tamp down the sand, but each wave softened it again.
“It was dangerous for a lot of people, especially the elderly, so I moved my chair there to warn people,” he said. “I heard one older woman say it also happened closer to the (Margate) pier.”
Doyle said he was on the beach for 90 minutes and during that time he saw three people sucked into the sand and warned another 40 to 50 people about the danger.
After discussing it with his wife, Doyle posted the photograph on the Margate Back in the Day Facebook page to warn people, he said.
Rochette said work in that area was completed Thursday night.
“It is possible that the area was saturated and remained so afterward,” Rochette said. “There will be periods of adjustment where Mother Nature reworks near shore areas — it depends on the tides, wind and wave activity and storms.”
As Jose worked its way up the coast, the dredge B.E. Lindholm was in safe harbor in Sandy Hook Bay, Rochette said.
“The elevated high tide has pushed water to the toe of the dunes and through temporary outfall pipes and behind the dune in certain areas,” Rochette said. “We have started to pump out areas where tidal surge isn’t a factor,” including at Douglas, Frotenace and Exeter avenues.
Retired National Weather Service meteorologist Jim Eberwine said the area would not feel the full impact from Jose, but tides on Tuesday would be 2 feet above normal. A new moon Wednesday would cause higher-than-normal tides, which would lead to tidal flooding along roads, he said.