By Jay Cook |
MONMOUTH BEACH – Extensive flooding isn’t a new phenomenon for Monmouth Beach residents. Trekking through inches of deluge and piggybacking a stranded motorist to safety, on the other hand, seemingly was a first for one first responder.
As a wet and blustery nor’easter slammed New Jersey last week with high winds and significant flooding along the Jersey Shore, Sgt. Aaron Rock of the Monmouth Beach Police Department, also the deputy office of emergency management (OEM) coordinator, was busy in his own right.
High tides on March 3 brought several inches of floodwater in from the Shrewsbury River. It was also the reason one motorist trying to navigate through the flooded roadway along Sailors Way became stranded inside her car when it could no longer move.
Rock said a resident flagged him down a few streets over and alerted him of the stranded car. In a police issue Humvee, he arrived to assist the driver who got stuck while making her way to work. Rock helped push her car out of deeper waters and then carried her out of the vehicle to safety on his back.
“She didn’t really want to get out of the car,” Rock said. “We had a long conversation and I finally told her to get on my back, and I helped her over to the grass area. Our patrols gave her a ride to work in town here.”
Although resolved without incident, situations like this are avoidable if motorists and residents follow rules and issues provided by their local police departments and OEM crews.
“Trying to tell them about flooded roadways – some people really don’t understand it,” Rock said. “We meet up with the fire department and first aid and brief them on different scenarios, and they’re a big part of the collaboration in town.”
Monmouth Beach was just one of the many towns in the Two River area that was affected by the gusty nor’easter that rolled into New Jersey on March 1, with side effects lasting days later due to flooding and intense tide cycles.
Rock said there were no power outages reported to the Monmouth Beach Police Department during or after the storm and only one tree had fallen down, on Mann Court. “Several cars” were stuck in the floodwaters he said, including a 2017 Mercedes Benz on River Avenue and Channel Drive on March 2, Rock said.
“These tide cycles have been crazy for us,” he said. “Usually it doesn’t take this long – three to four days in a row – where the tides are always coming up. This is a little different.”
Just north along Ocean Avenue in Sea Bright, the same flooding effects were felt. Det. Daniel Chernovsky of the Sea Bright Police Department said moderate flooding covered Ocean Avenue near Driftwood Beach Club and the Navesink Marina, in the downtown business district around River and Center streets, and even up to the 400 block of Ocean Avenue, one of the narrowest points in Sea Bright.
“It’s probably consistent with the areas of flooding we’re used to experiencing,” said Chernovsky, also the borough OEM coordinator, “but the magnitude was a little higher than what we would have seen in an event like this.”
He added that, just like Monmouth Beach, there were no reported power outages in town. Chernovsky also said no property damage from the flooding was reported to the police, most likely thanks to many houses being lifted after Super Storm Sandy in 2012.
Damages and personal injuries were also avoided, he believed, in part to the numerous notification services offered to residents. Sea Bright has a free Nixle alert system and a Code Red reverse 911 system. Both are meant to make everyone aware of an oncoming storm.
“The old-time residents just kind of knew. They watched the weather and adapted to it,” he added, saying notification services weren’t usually needed in the past. “But the new people coming in really don’t have too much of an idea yet.”
More flooding also affected low-lying areas in Middletown and Highlands, where Bay Avenue and many other side streets were inundated with flood waters.
Fallen tree damage wasn’t a factor along the shore, but further inland it became an issue. Social media accounts for the Colts Neck and Holmdel police departments noted fallen trees and snarled powerlines shut down traffic in many areas around town. By the afternoon of March 2, the Colts Neck Police Department reported at least a half-dozen accidents on Route 18.
At one point on March 3, six total roadways in Colts Neck were impassable: Dutch Lane Road between Cedar Drive and Heulitt Road; Laird Road between Cross Road and Muhlenbrink Road; Clover Hill Lane; Phalanx Road between Rimwood Lane and Brookdale Community College; Bray Street; and Heyers Mill Road with one lane shut down at Prothero Road.
All roadways didn’t fully open until March 5 when the Phalanx Road Bridge was reopened after a downed tree was removed.
Two River residents needed a short memory, though, as another nor’easter rolled through New Jersey on Wednesday, dropping inches of snow and bringing in more flooding and windy conditions.
This article was first published in the March 8-15, 2018 print edition of The Two River Times.
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