LONGPORT — Representatives from the Stockton University Coastal Research Center and the borough’s Public Works Department have installed flood sensors, called Hobos, in several locations throughout the borough.
The tide-gauge installation took place Aug. 22 at seven locations, including on Atlantic, Oberon, Winchester, Pacific, Monmouth and Sunset avenues. A barometric pressure gauge was installed at the Longport Firehouse.
The sensors are not visible but are located in storm drains. Public Works provided the manpower to lift the grates, while Stockton officials installed the sensors. The sensors will collect data from coastal storms, nor’easters and hurricanes over the next 12 months and measure the amount of flooding that occurs at different locations to help the borough better plan projects to protect life and property against future weather events.
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“The data will be collected periodically and provide such information as when it flooded, where it flooded, how often it flooded and how high the water got,” Longport Emergency Management Coordinator Bruce Funk said. “The data will give us a better understanding of where we flood and help us plan mitigation projects.”
Mitigation projects currently underway in Longport include the installation of Tideflex valves at 34th, 33rd, and 32nd avenues. The valves prevent tidal water from backing up into the drainage pipes along the bay outfalls, engineer Richard Carter said. The borough has also installed a valve at one of two outfall locations on 31st Avenue - the county owns the other one - and it received a NJ Department of Transportation grant to improve the end of 29th Avenue and eliminate the outfall scuppers.
The borough is also trying to determine the best location for a pumping station, Carter said.
"Elimination of back bay flooding is difficult because, as much as the borough does to prevent high tidal flooding, it still relies on the individual property owners to maintain their bulkheads," he said.
The project is a partnership between Longport, Stockton and the Borough of Avalon. The Atlantic Cape New Jersey Coalition, which was formed by Ventnor shortly after Hurricane Sandy and now includes 15 Atlantic and Cape May county municipalities, suggested the public/private partnership to conduct a baseline investigation and collect flood data at the Jersey Shore.
The project is being funded with shared contributions from Avalon and Longport. Longport is covering $6,250 of the $31,250 cost of doing the study, and Avalon is covering $9,375. The remainder is being funded with a grant from the John C. Allen Charitable Trust.
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Compiling scientific data about coastal storms over an extended period could help pinpoint flood-risk areas and help improve the borough’s CRS rating from Class 5 to Class 4, Longport Mayor Nicholas Russo said.
The Community Rating System, or CRS, grades towns on flood management. The lower the class number, the greater the discount residents can receive on flood insurance.
Having “hard data” about where the risk of flooding is the greatest will help the borough issue storm warnings in a more efficient and timely manner, Funk said.
The research center will use the data to perform an analysis, compile a report and present findings for future action.
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“We sit up here and make decisions about how we spend money. If this data helps us make those decisions more effectively, it’s the right thing to do,” Russo said.
Stockton’s Coastal Research Center was established in 1981 to monitor recurring storm damage and shoreline retreat through geotechnical data collection. It has provided resources at the federal, state and municipal levels on coastal-zone management issues.