SEA ISLE CITY, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — As heavy rain pounded New Jersey throughout the day and night Friday, worries about the weather persisted – especially in low-lying areas still recovering from Superstorm Sandy.
Late Friday night, winds were strong along the Jersey Shore as rain fell and temperatures crashed into the 40s — with wind chills making it feel even colder.
New Jersey is no longer in the anticipated path of Hurricane Joaquin, but the rain that has already arrived is expected to bring coastal flooding this weekend.
Gov. Chris Christie briefed state and local officials in Sea Isle City Friday and will later hold a cabinet meeting in Toms River.
“The good news on Hurricane Joaquin is that it continues to track east, not west, into the middle of the Atlantic Ocean and if the track continues the way it is now, we’re not going to have to worry about Joaquin having any type of major effect on the Jersey shoreline or our citizens,” Christie said during a news conference Friday.
He said that while the state won’t get as much rain as it initially thought, New Jersey’s four southernmost counties are still likely to suffer moderate to major flooding.
Christie told residents Friday to “be prepared to respond to the flooding” and power outages and said that shelters will be available if needed.
“Go to places where you can be safe and warm,” he said.
The governor declared a state of emergency on Thursday, warning of flooding and beach erosion while putting hundreds of emergency workers on standby.
The National Weather Service has issued coastal flood warnings Friday with widespread tidal flooding expected during high tides throughout this weekend.
Forecasters say wind gusts will continue to increase with gusts up to 60 mph and warned of power outages from trees and limbs being knocked down and blowing sand that may cover some roads.
Christie said that the Cape May and Atlantic County region are expected to get between one and three feet of flooding and waves are expected to reach six to 10 feet.
As CBS2’s Jessica Schneider reported, the high winds and whipping rain were a sight for people running on the beaches. But on a stretch of the Jersey Shore that was beaten by Sandy, residents were taking the storms seriously.
Residents were especially worried earlier in the week, when the forecast for Joaquin looked far worse for the area.
“When they forecast Joaquin for a direct hit to New Jersey, it sent all of us into a panic, because it brought back all of Sandy. And we heard Sandy on the news, and it kind of gets your heart racing and your fears up,” said Sea Bright Mayor Dina Long.
But even though subsequent forecasts have indicated that Joaquin is likely to spare the area from a direct hit, Sea Bright has still spent days building sand berms along the shore to protect what is left of the already-eroded beachfront environment.
“It’s pretty bad,” said Fran Fleming of Sea Bright. “My mother in law lived in town. She was evacuated for a few weeks, so we’re hoping we don’t have a repeat of that.”
Meanwhile in Union Beach, the water was already threatening homes Friday afternoon, CBS2’s Christine Sloan reported.
Along the Raritan Bay Friday afternoon, the winds were strong and the waters were churning. Surges were fiercely breaking over a bulkhead and smashing into newer homes built after Sandy.
It was nerve-wracking for residents living along the water.
“I am very nervous,” said Roberta Berman of Union Beach.
Berman was evacuated with her Yorkie, Sasha. The flooded street stood between her and the home she rebuilt after Sandy.
“Four times — I had to leave because of flooding,” Berman said. “I was taken out the first time in a bucket of a pay loader.”
Sandy leveled dozens of homes along the bay. A sand berm is now the only thing that protects the homes down the street.
Union Beach and several other towns were preparing for a rough weekend, with steady rain sure to swell up.
“We have sent out a message to the residents already, telling them to prepare evacuations kits should we need to evacuate anybody,” said Office of Emergency Management contractor Mike Harriott.
In the Manasquan Inlet, waves were churning. Sand dunes were also set up at the beach there to prevent flooding.
“We’re going to see six to 10 feet of waves — maybe as high as16 feet, over the course of the weekend — which will really damage the beach and lead to more beach erosion,” said New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
With all the trouble, Sloan asked Berman why people choose to go on living in the flood-prone areas.
“You know, that’s a good question — I don’t know the answer to that. I keep asking myself the same thing,” Berman said. “Ninety percent of the time it’s beautiful, but on days like this, you say, ‘What am I doing here?’”
Union Beach resident and code enforcement officer Bob Parsells said he stays “because we love it here — it’s a great town before the storm. When anybody gets in trouble, we come together.”
Desiree Durkin, a longtime Union Beach resident and town employee, said weather threats can be found anywhere.
“No matter where you go, you’re always going to have something to worry about,” she said. “Here, you might have a hurricane. You go to the center of the country, you’re going to have to worry about tornadoes. I have no problem with the water coming up. It’s nature. It’s where it’s supposed to go, and I don’t plan on going anywhere.”
The high tide at midnight was what they were worried about. If winds hold the water in the bay, there could be a lot more flooding.
Flooding had also already started Friday in places such as Ocean City and Margate, where public works crews were filling up thousands of sandbags to give out to residents starting Friday morning.
“Emergency management team is ready to go and we’ll deal with it as it happens,” said Margate Mayor Michael Becker.
Margate is one of a few towns that refused to put up dunes after Sandy – prompting a rebuke from Christie.
“I’ll say again, quite candidly, to towns like Margate — you know, you are amongst the most selfish people in the state of New Jersey, and if this hurricane had come close to shore the damage that would have been to lives and property in Margate — I hope it’s worth the vanity act that you’re all engaging in,” Christie said.
In Mantoloking, a steel wall is going up along the existing dune — extending 16 feet above sea level. Residents have protested their views will be blocked.
At Manasquan Beach, sand dunes should prevent water from flooding nearby homes, but residents aren’t taking any chances. One property management service was securing patio furniture from dozens of homes along the waterfront.
“We have a long day, a long couple of days,” said Don Oakes of Don Oakes Property Services.
Over in Brick, the force of the water already broke the sand barrier the town just built along the seawall and neighbors worry for what’s to come as wild weather moves in.
“We’re just hoping we make it through this time,” said resident Wendy Amo. “We lost our house for about two years before we got back, but hopefully the wall will hold it and we’ll be OK.”
During high tide in Ortley Beach, the water can be seen going right up to a property.
As CBS2’s Mark Morgan reported, the community – which was also pummeled by Sandy – was being hit with pounding surf and whipping winds Friday afternoon. The winds had been picking up throughout the day Friday, along with blinding rain.
Dunes have been set up at Ortley Beach to protect the beach and the houses behind it.
The hope is that the storm damage is minimal, but these coastal communities are ready for whatever comes their way.
“We brought all the furniture from outside, stocking up on water and food and hoping for the best,” one resident said.
“Having lived here through Sandy, this is going to be easy,” Sea Bright resident John told 1010 WINS’ Rebecca Granet.
Meanwhile, Gov. Christie had harsh words for some Jersey Shore residents who are resisting a dune system that would protect the coastline from storms like Joaquin, WCBS 880’s Kelly Waldron reported.
“I continue to be frustrated by the opposition of some folks in this state to us completing the dune system,” Christie said.
According to the governor, the state is wasting time and money in court fighting those who are against the dunes.
“I’ll say again quite candidly to towns like Margate, you are amongst the most selfish people in the state of New Jersey,” Christie said, adding that ultimately the state will win out.
To prepare for flooding in Hoboken, crews have been installing concrete barriers and sandbags at the PSE&G substation on Madison Street.
“We’re going to circle all of our equipment, we’re going to put a liner over the top, like a berm to prevent the water from getting into our switch gear,” said Matt McCue, senior distribution supervisor at PSE&G. “We’re also installing pumps on the inside of the containment in the event that water migrates into the containment area, we’ll pump it back out.”
The substation flooded during Superstorm Sandy, knocking power out for 16,000 customers.
Mayor Dawn Zimmer stopped by and wants PSE&G to permanently raise all three substations in town, WCBS 880’s Levon Putney reported.
“I’ve been pushing and I’m going to continue pushing for that to happen,” she said.
NJ TRANSIT, which saw some trains under water during Sandy, is also keeping a close eye on the storm to minimize service disruptions.
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