Reminders Appear Of Sandy’s Storm Surge

January 30, 2017
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A High Water Mark sign has been erected at the end of River Street, overlooking the Shrewsbury River in down- town Sea Bright. Rumson is across the river.

Story and photo by Liz Sheehan

SEA BRIGHT – Signs are popping up around the borough showing just how high the water rose during unforgettable Super Storm Sandy on Oct. 29, 2012.

The signs are found on River Street, Imbrie Place, Peninsula Avenue and Beach Way.

In a presentation about the signs, which are an initiative of the Monmouth County Community Rating System Assistance Program (CRS), given to the Borough Council at its meeting Jan. 17, Michael Schwebel, of the New Jersey Sea Grant Consortium, said the borough was one of 15 municipalities in the county to place them in areas affected by Sandy. Some of the other Two River Towns include Atlantic Highlands, Monmouth Beach, Middletown, Oceanport and Rumson.

Placement of the High Water Mark Initiative signs is voluntary and at no cost to the town, according to a brochure prepared by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Monmouth County.

The aim of the signs is to build awareness of the risk of floods and encourage the communities to “take action to mitigate the risks.” Communities that participate in the CRS program can receive points by placing the signs that will result in lowering their flood insurance rates.

Sea Bright is not yet a member of the CRS program, Margaret Murame, of the Monmouth County Sheriff ’s office, said, but has shown interest in being in it. She said it is “a lot of work” to participate in the program. There can be issues about buildings not being up to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) standards, building requirements, flood zones and zoning requirements, Muramesaid.

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When a community becomes a member it can earn points towards reducing flood, insurance rates for its residents, from five percent to 45 percent, she said.

A few communities have earned a rating of six under the program, lowering their flood insurance premiums by 20 percent, she said.

According to the FEMA and county brochure, there are 100 signs in municipalities and federal properties in the county.

A student-faculty research team from Monmouth University’s Urban Coast Institute, the brochure said, surveyed the elevations where the high water mark signs would be placed and the elevations were chosen in three ways: “from direct knowledge, watermarks within a town, and by water gauge information from temporary sensors that were installed by the U.S. Geological Survey just before Sandy hit.”

At the council meeting, Schwebel said the size of the signs varied, with Middletown opting for large signs and Keansburg for small ones, because “they don’t want to get people agitated.”

He said some felt real estate values might be affected with potential buyers reluctant to purchase property near the signs.

A real estate agent in Sea Bright, who did not want to be identified, said the firm had “no experience” of the signs influencing sales.

Susie Markson, a borough resident who had to vacate her home for a lengthy period for repairs after Sandy, said “They don’t bother me. I think they are interesting.”

“I like pointing them out,” she said.

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