By NANETTE LoBIONDO GALLOWAY
LONGPORT – The borough learned yesterday that FEMA will award the municipality a $849,375 grant to continue its Winchester Avenue Resiliency Project.
The grant, the second awarded by the government agency for stormwater improvements in Longport, will fund the replacement and installation of storm sewer infrastructure on Winchester Avenue at 31st and 34th avenues.
The borough was awarded $1,128,750 in 2020 to complete Phase 1 of the project, borough engineer Ed Dennis Jr. said. Along with funding from the Ocean Wind Trust, the project includes installation of pump stations at 31st and 34th avenue that connect to the existing stormwater sewer system.
The next phase of the borough’s ongoing resiliency improvement includes installation of larger stormwater sewer pipes and inlets that will connect to the pump station to remove stormwater during weather events.
Grant funding was secured by grant consultant James Rutala of Rutala Associates of Linwood.
On Thursday morning, both Dennis and Rutala were on hand to present resiliency goals during the borough’s annual Hazard Mitigation and Local Emergency Planning Meeting held in Commission Chambers at Borough Hall.
“There’s a lot of money in the Infrastructure Act for coastal resiliency projects, and the federal government will continue to make more money available for these projects,” Rutala said.
“All future road projects will have components addressing resiliency,” Dennis said.
Dennis said the way forward is like “the three legs of a stool” – upgrading bulkheads to keep the water out, replacing pipes in the ground to collect water, and lastly, getting the water out, especially during high tides, with the use of pump stations.
The area between 31st and 34th avenues is the lowest point in Longport, and upgrading the stormwater system and installing pump stations will improve the drainage of stormwater into the bay or ocean tenfold, Dennis said.
“We’re thinking big to tackle big problems,” he said.
FEMA selected 149 projects totaling $642.5 million for fiscal year 2022, with 25 of them in New Jersey and 10 projects totaling $32 million in Atlantic and Cape May counties.
The largest project in this round of funding is $24.3 million for Cape May to build a seawall along Beach Avenue.
The second largest project is $4.1 million to raise homes in Atlantic County. Margate City was the lead agency in this round of funding and it’s enough to raise 22 homes. Residents who accept funding will be required to contribute 25% toward the cost of raising their homes. Atlantic County shore communities have been participating in the program since 2016, and each year a different community on Absecon Island takes the lead role.
Atlantic City received two $178,762 grants to develop resiliency plans for the Ducktown/Chelsea and Venice Park neighborhoods. Last year, the city received funding for the Chelsea Heights and Bungalow Park neighborhoods.
Also in Atlantic County, Somers Point was selected for design work for the Gulph Mill Road pump station.
West Wildwood was awarded $1.9 million to create a living shoreline along 26th Street and $162,067 for a resiliency scoping study. Stone Harbor received two $157,500 awards for mitigation projects at 81st and 93rd streets.
All the applications were prepared by Rutala Associates.
Investing in flood mitigation is a cost-effective way to reduce the cost of responding to flooding disasters, and saves money reserved in FEMA’s Disaster Relief Funds, officials said.
“Every dollar that we spend in resilience – like this money right here – saves us $6 in response and recovery costs,” FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell said.
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