How Sand Dunes Protected a Jersey Shore Town

December 19, 2012 at 4:00 am

NJToday’s Lauren Wanko reports from Bradley Beach, N.J., where its dunes, strengthened by buried Christmas trees, are credited with sparing the town major damage. MetroFocus airs Dec. 19 at 7 p.m. on WLIW21, Dec. 20 at 8 p.m. on NJTV, and Dec. 20 at 8:30 p.m. on THIRTEEN.

Sandy battered shore communities up and down the New Jersey coast. Boardwalk and beach huts were torn to pieces. Ocean front homes were ripped from their foundations. But in Bradley Beach, the boardwalk is largely intact.

“We’re probably the only town where you can walk on the boardwalk right now,” said Richard Bianchi, Jr., Operating Supervisor for Bradley Beach Public Works.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers map

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers map of planned and existing sand dune projects for the New Jersey Coast. There are 49 miles of constructed projects and 33 miles of planned projects as of Dec. 11, 2012. Click image for full pdf of map.

Bradley Beach Operating Supervisor Rich Bianchi credits the 15 ft. by 25 ft. sand dunes. Built in 1996, the dunes stretched across the beach until Sandy made landfall. Bianchi says 20,000 Christmas trees planted in the sand dunes gave the beach community even more protection.

“Just the rooting system weaved itself through the trees which caused almost like a concrete wall for the hurricane that came through,” said Bianchi.

The buildings along the boardwalk are also intact. The Bradley Beach mayor says the homes along Ocean Avenue suffered minimal damage. The sand dunes were just 75 to 100 feet away from many properties.

Bianchi said that “a lot of people that live on the beachfront complained about the height of them and what we could do to lower them. Now, we’re getting praise for it.”

Even with the dune protection, Bianchi says Sandy caused about $5.5 million dollars worth of damage in Bradley Beach. They plan to rebuild their dunes in January.