With Joaquin expected to stay far out to sea, Shore officials express relief

 Flood waters enveloped this neighborhood in the Strathmere section of Upper Township, New Jersey, Friday. Despite forecasts showing the impending Hurricane Joaquin may move out to sea and not directly strike New Jersey, crews along the shore were nonetheless taking precautions against a wind and rainstorm. (AP Photo/Wayne Parry)

Flood waters enveloped this neighborhood in the Strathmere section of Upper Township, New Jersey, Friday. Despite forecasts showing the impending Hurricane Joaquin may move out to sea and not directly strike New Jersey, crews along the shore were nonetheless taking precautions against a wind and rainstorm. (AP Photo/Wayne Parry)

Towns along the Jersey Shore are breathing a sigh of relief now that it looks like Hurricane Joachin will spare the region a direct hit.

Even though the Shore is escaping the wrath of the hurricane, Belmar Mayor Matt Doherty said preparations cost the town as in overtime as public works crews moved sand on the beach and lowered lake levels to ease the risk of flooding.

“There was some expense but it’s a small amount in consideration for the homeowners who are still rebuilding after Sandy,” Doherty said. “You’re talking millions of dollars in damage that we were working to prevent if there was a direct impact.”

Brick Township Mayor John Ducey said Friday a steel seawall protected the oceanfront from flooding, but there is some in back bay areas.

“Some of the lagoons and the low-lying areas that flood during a normal rainstorm have had flooding so those are coming up, but it’s not to the extent of Sandy or anything like that,” he said. “So it’s not getting into people’s homes, but there are streets that are flooded.”

All the wind and rough surf from a nor’easter have caused significant beach erosion.

But Stewart Farrell, director of Stockton University’s Coastal Research Center, doesn’t expect that will pose a high risk of flooding for Shore towns.

“I don’t think anybody is going to be put in harm’s way. This is not a high-intensity event where the sand was washed inland or into inlet. It’s offshore. It will come back if there are no subsequent storms in the next three or four weeks.

“If we have a nor’easter every week like we have had in past El Niño years, it’s going to be a drubbing by repeated assaults even if the storms are not terribly intense,” he said.

All the rain from the storm has eased drought worries, said Dave Robinson, New Jersey climatologist.

“We’ve softened up the soils, moistened up the soils, and then subsequent rains will begin to run into the rivers and fill up our reservoirs,” he said. “They’ll be able to soak deeper into the ground and fill up the groundwater levels so the wells will rise.”

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