BRIGANTINE, NJ - The City of Brigantine is a barrier island community in Atlantic County, New Jersey, with a population of 12,594. The city is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean on the east and the back bays on the west, inlets on the north and south and has areas that flood repeatedly.
The highest street elevation on the island is 10 foot above sea level. The bayside street elevations are five to six feet above sea level which leaves the city’s low-lying residential areas vulnerable to flooding during coastal storms. In an attempt to reduce the flooding, the city installed nine foot bulkheads in some critical areas along the bay side. However, a seven foot tide still caused backflow from the bays to flood streets, threaten homes, inhibit the safe passage of first responders, and block the evacuation route for many residents.
The city installed a stormwater pump station in 1980 and alleviated the flooding in one area. They subsequently purchased two mobile pump stations, “Flood Buster 1” and “Flood Buster 2,” to control flooding in other areas.
“It has always been a challenge to determine in what areas to position the Flood Busters,” said Edward Stinson, City Engineer, “because there are more areas that flood than we had the ability to handle. The mobile equipment involves the use of Public Works Department personnel to set up, operate, and breakdown the equipment at one location at a time. When the portable pumps are moved to a new location the floodwater re-establishes itself at the former location.”
The city has experienced numerous flooding events since 1984, and five of those events were federally declared disasters. In an attempt to alleviated some of the long-term flooding problems, the city applied for and received a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Flood Mitigation Assistance (FMA) grant to install two additional stormwater pump stations on existing force mains. The FMA grant was in the amount of $747,708.00, with a federal share of $560,781.00.
One of the new pump stations brought complaints from residents who were not pleased with the elevated control panel that blocked their view of the golf course. These sentiments changed drastically after November 2009 when Tropical Storm Ida and the subsequent Nor’easter hit Brigantine with heavy rain, high winds, and tidal flooding. The streets served by the pump stations remained passable, and there was no damage to structures or property reported as a result of the coastal storms. Several other locations within the city flooded during these storms, all with street elevations higher than the areas served with the pump stations. The city has plans to apply for additional grants to assist with the construction of one more pump station and a flood gate at the entrance of the community boat ramp.
Forty-year resident William Smith elevated his home above the Base Flood Elevation (BFE) in 1992. He has not received flood damage to his structure since. Still there are concerns. Smith and his wife cannot evacuate once the tide comes in because “the water runs down the street like a river.” Across the street from Smith’s residence is the proposed site for a third pump station. After seeing how the new stations worked in November 2009, he is excited at the prospect of the added security for his wife, himself, and neighbors.
For more than 40 years, the residents in low-lying areas of Brigantine have suffered through numerous seven foot tidal events that have flooded homes and streets. The completed and proposed future projects will eliminate this re-occurring hardship. The residents of the city’s low-lying areas no longer will have to worry about seven foot title backflow from the bays flooding their streets, threatening their homes, inhibiting the safe passage of first responders, and blocking evacuation routes.