"Erosion emergency" at the shore

STRATHMERE, NJ - October 24, 2008 - Officials are worried about what's going to happen. Over the past few weeks, wind and waves have been eating away at the shoreline.

Crews have been installing seawalls and bulkheads on an emergency basis, worried that some of the properties could be flooded or worse if the water and the waves keep beating against the shoreline.

Mayor Rich Palombo says there's been a shocking loss of beach along the northern end of Strathmere. High winds and rough surf demolished 60 acres of Corson's Inlet State Park.

"We just got a complete washout," said Catherine Marshall of Strathmere. "It just disappeared. Its all underwater."

To protect the disappearing shoreline, and the properties next to it, in the last couple weeks hundreds of feet of steel bulkhead has been installed and contractors have been hired to dump boulders as heavy as 5 tons a piece along Neptune and Seaview Aves.

The hope is that will shoreup the bulkhead and break up the power of the waves crashing in.

"The fear is there will be some significant damage to the personal property of the homeowners that are here," said Mayor Palombo. "Last week we had alot of breach from the ocean coming over and driving waves and having some destruction on the infrastructure."

82-year-old Sarah Boardman had a $148,000 seawall installed behind her house.

"So they hit the wall, sounds like a machine gun. Then they make a projectile an come flying over here," Boardman said.

Some owners have filled and piled sandbags in front of their houses. This, as work crews are placing concrete jersey guards at the end of several streets to prevent them from being swamped and flooded as they were last week.

"This is almost as bad as back in '62. Back then half of that Neptune across the front there was washed away," said Bob Greenawalt of Chestnut Hill.

Cape May county officials are asking for a presidential disaster declaration. They're hoping that may free up money from FEMA to help shore up the area.

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