High Tide

The CapeMay.com blog

Aftermath of Sandy

NOTE to those who would come from gas-starved northern NJ and NY….
South Jersey has no gas lines. If you can get yourself to Cape May County, you can fuel up for the return trip.

Hurricane/Superstorm Sandy has come and gone and once again the storm gods spared the tiny island of Cape May. In a telephone interview today with CapeMay.com, City Manager Bruce MacLeod attributed the good fortune to two things – the eye of the storm passing just north of us 2.5 hours in advance of high tide and wind shifts which kept tidal surges at bay.

“The eye of the storm landed,” said Macleod, “depending on who you talk to, somewhere either at Sea Isle City and Somers Point, which placed us on the southside of the hurricane, which meant the brunt of the winds were on the northern side. That is why communities north of us, like Atlantic, Ocean and Monmouth counties were walloped. The other benefit of being on the southerly side was that the winds shifted from north/northeast to westerly winds, so that when high tide came, instead of 12 to 20 foot tidal surges, which were predicted, the westerly winds blew against the north winds blocking them and we did not see the predicted massive tidal waves.”

When asked if he could put a cost on the pre-storm and recovery efforts, MacLeod said it is still too early to tell. He said all fire, police, and public works personnel were on duty the entire four days [Sunday through Wednesday] leading up to and after the storm hit.” Work crews, he said, are still trying to remove sand from Poverty Beach (at the east end of Beach Avenue) at Wilmington Avenue, where sand is still piled up blocking the egresses at that end. On Wednesday much of the city’s efforts went to removing sand from Beach Avenue at Broadway toward the Cove.

Thus far, MacLeod said the only significant damage to city property occurred at McGlade’s Restaurant “which was breached by tidal surges.”

“We are still in recovery mode,” said MacLeod, “Once clean-up has taken place, we will assess the beach for any possible erosion which may be the result of the storm. Right now it is hard to assess. Where one section of the beach may look as though it has eroded, in reality, the sand may have shifted to another section further up the beach.”

The island opened its bridges to the public Wednesday around 1 p.m. Merchants spent Wednesday taking down boards and tape from their windows and prepared to be open for business for the coming weekend.

Realtor Bill Bezaire from Coldwell Banker Real Estate, located on the Washington Street Mall, posted the following report Tuesday, based on his tour of the island:

You have probably seen all of the newscasts reporting the details of this storm on a city by city basis and the severity of these reports was troubling.

Yesterday and today I drove around Cape May when it was relatively safe to do so in order to give you a first hand accounting of the state of the City. I am happy to report that Cape May survived this storm relatively unscathed. It absolutely amazed me that our town absorbed what this hurricane threw at us with minor cuts and abrasions compared to the lacerations in towns just north of us.

That is not to say that we did not incur some damage. As of 9:30 this morning there was still standing water in the 1600 to 1800 blocks of New York and Maryland Avenues, as well as in the 200 blocks of Congress Street and Windsor Avenue, the Fow tract area and Patterson Avenue/Mt Vernon Avenue.

On Beach Drive in the 1600 block, approximately 5-6 feet of sand washed over the bulkhead and now resides on the street and on the lawns of Wilmington Beach Condos, Victorias Walk Condos, and the 2 houses to the left of those complexes. There is also a fair amount of sand on Beach Avenue in front of the Periwinkle Hotel and Ocean Club Resort as well as in front of the Rusty Nail. It actually appears as if the Rusty Nail had some interior water intrusion.

If you own a property in the “Frog Hollow” area of town, I saw approximately 3 feet of water in that area yesterday but did not revisit those areas last night during the worst tide. This morning it appears as if the water did not get much higher as the high water line on most houses ended in the front yard approaching the building or up to the first or second step of the stairway up to the houses. Unless your house was ground level in Frog Hollow, it seems safe to say that you should not have incurred any flood related damage.

The water that did flood into town from the ocean also appears to have reached no further than Maryland Avenue in East Cape May and halfway up the block at the West or south end. However, the cove beach seems to have taken a beating. It is amazing to that the Cove Restaurant is still standing – it much have taken on a lot of water and certainly a lot of wind.

During the height of the rain late yesterday and early evening, the rain water had no place to go so there was a couple of feet at every street intersecting Madison Avenue that did not already have standing ocean water -Maryland, Idaho, Cape May, Virginia and Michigan Avenues – which made it a little hairy when driving around. Tidal flood waters from the back creeks filled the streets from Washington Street to the Dry Dock on Texas Avenue. Yacht Avenue and the corner of Washington Street, where Riggins Gas Station is located, probably had 3 feet of water and was impassable. The Dry Dock parking lot was covered with water from the back creeks. Even streets in Village Greene had standing water a couple of feet deep at intersecting streets and along the curb lines.

If you were to drive around the City today you would notice a lot of leaves everywhere and limbs and branches strewn about but you would see very few uprooted or toppled trees. You would also notice some houses with gutters, siding, storm doors and the like blown off or hanging loose, but that is the exception and not the norm.