Longport Zoning Officer Bruce Funk leads a resiliency meeting at Borough Hall.


LONGPORT – Emergency Management Coordinator Bruce Funk Aug. 27 brought together members of two emergency management committees, the Board of Commissioners and Planning Board to discuss how to reduce the municipality’s vulnerabilities and plan ways to mitigate damage from weather events.

The purpose of the meeting was to develop policies and procedures that will help the community become more resilient against storms and improve the municipality’s CRS rating, which will reduce the cost of flood insurance for property owners who participate in the National Flood Insurance Program.

Longport is currently a Class 5 community, which provides a 25% discount on the cost of flood insurance premiums but would like to improve to a Class 3 community with a 35% reduction in premiums. Funk said 85% of property owners who responded to a survey carry flood insurance and pay between $1,000 to $3,000 a year in premiums.

The plans developed will affect all residents, so recommendations coming from the Hazard Mitigation Committee and Local Emergency Planning Committee will be reviewed by the Planning Board before recommending the Board of Commissioners pass legislation. There will be public hearings at both levels of government before plans are adopted, he said.

In attendance were current and former public officials, representatives of the community’s public safety organizations, along with real estate professionals and builders, architects and planners and condominium association managers.

Flash Flood Watch in effect due to Hurricane Ida

A Flash Flood Watch is now in effect from Wednesday morning through Thursday afternoon as the remnants of Hurricane Ida roll through South Jersey. More information is available at https://www.weather.gov/phi/

Funk sought input on what should be added to the town’s current Hazard Mitigation Plan, which includes being prepared for floods, fires, wind, chemical hazards, tsunamis, earthquakes, terroristic threats and technology failures or threats. He said a July tornado that caused damage in nearby shore towns prompted him to add tornados to the plan.

“That made me ask how I, as an emergency management coordinator, will notify all the residents of an approaching tornado. This is the future with climate change…we will have more tornadoes.”

Most of the people who responded to a questionnaire said they would like to receive notification of a pending disaster. Residents can sign up for advance notifications of emergency situations using the CodeRED notification system, accessible on the LongportNJ.gov website. The registration procedure allows residents to select notification of impending danger by phone, email or text message.

Commissioner Jim Leeds suggested using CodeRED notifications to alert beachgoers in the event of an approaching thunderstorm with lightning. Another attendee suggested notifying motorists of any emergency closure of the Longport bridge or other major traffic arteries.

Funk listed flood mitigation projects completed since the first Hazard Mitigation Plan was completed in 2008, including raising bulkheads, extending outfall pipes, completion of two revetments, installation of pump stations, rehabilitation and installation of water wells, gas line hardening, improving utilities in public buildings, establishing higher regulatory standards for new construction, and upgrading the municipal website and social media platforms.

Future projects include further hardening of borough properties, installation of a pump station at 14th Avenue, and increasing the capacity of the stormwater system.

Leeds said he would like to see more mitigation strategies directed toward the Public Works yard. Public Works employees are often first-responders when a tragedy occurs.

Jim Rutala of Rutala Associates, Inc., who provides consulting and grant writing services for all four Absecon Island communities, said both Atlantic City and Margate are applying for citywide backbay dredging permits, which will allow residents who live along the bay to dredge their own properties without having to apply for a permit.

Also, the NJ Coastal Coalition funded a two-year study of seven sites in Longport and Avalon that has provided municipal officials with hard data on areas that have repetitive nuisance flooding.

“We now know the areas that will flood when tides reach a height of 7 feet above (North American Vertical Datum NVAD88). Winchester Avenue between 35th and 36th floods first,” Funk said.

The borough has obtained a FEMA grant to do a flood mitigation project in that area.

Longport will be the lead agency in another grant application to address repetitive loss properties, Rutala said. The funds can help homeowners with the cost of raising their homes in areas where flooding is reoccuring.

Rutala noted there have been 18 projects identified as being eligible for FEMA funding, and partnerships with other municipalities and the county can improve the likelihood of getting a grant application approved. FEMA covers 75% of the cost of a project, with the municipal partners sharing the remaining 25%.

“There is no opportunity like there is now. The next year or two is the time to take advantage of potential funding,” he said. “Federal infrastructure funding will flow to the states to address climate change and sea level rise. You need to be in a position to take advantage of that.”

Additionally, the developer of an off-shore wind farm, Orsted, has established a trust fund for resiliency projects, Rutala said.

Utility pole upgrade in Avalon and Stone Harbor.

Funk also mentioned Atlantic City Electric’s plan to improve the electric grid by installing tall metal poles that can withstand high winds and ensure the delivery of electric power to homes.

“If people keep building bigger homes and want more power, this is what we have to do,” Funk said, noting that Avalon and Stone Harbor haven’t lost power since the larger utility poles were installed there.

“We need to have a conversation with the Electric Company,” he said.

Funk also noted the recent U.S. Army Corps of Engineers preliminary report on the concept of building a $16 billion storm surge barrier between Longport and Ocean City to prevent flooding in the backbay of Absecon Island.

The study describes engineering, economic, social and environmental analyses for:

  • Storm surge barriers at Manasquan Inlet, Barnegat Inlet, and Great Egg Harbor Inlet
  • Cross-bay barriers along Absecon Boulevard/Route 30 in Atlantic County and along an extension of 52nd Street (spans across the bay along the old railroad abutment) in Ocean City, Cape May County.
  • Elevating 18,800 structures (including homes and businesses) in Monmouth, Ocean, Atlantic, and Cape May counties.

Other non-structural measures and natural and nature-based features, such as enhancing marshes or creating living shorelines, will be looked at in more detail in the next phase of the study and may be added to the plan in the future.

The Army Corps is holding two virtual public meetings to discuss the report and answer questions:

  • Sept. 20 from 6-7:30 p.m.
  • Sept. 21 from 1-2:30 p.m.

Instruction on how to access the meeting are available at https://www.nap.usace.army.mil/Missions/Civil-Works/New-Jersey-Back-Bays-Study/)

Anyone interested in serving on Longport’s resiliency committees may contact Bruce Funk at zoning@longport-nj.us.


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Categories: Downbeach

Nanette LoBiondo Galloway

Award winning journalist covering news, events and people of Atlantic County for more than 20 years.