State News

Coastal flooding a concern as storm moves up coast

Posted November 13, 2009 7:22 a.m. EST
Updated November 14, 2009 6:35 p.m. EST

— The remnants of Tropical Storm Ida pounded the East Coast on Friday, flooding coastal areas and eroding beaches in New Jersey after slamming the Carolinas and Virginia.

The wind and waves were strong along the New Jersey shore, but the rain was not as heavy as predicted. The storm peaked in New Jersey by midmorning, said National Weather Service meteorologist Lee Robertson.

The U.S. Coast Guard suspended its search Friday for three commercial fishermen from North Carolina whose boat went down 20 miles off the New Jersey coast Wednesday night.

Lenora Boninfante, a Cape May County spokeswoman, said all the county's barrier islands have experienced moderate to severe flooding. Several bridges and causeways were closed, and officials couldn't deliver meals to elderly shut-ins.

About 100 people went to temporary reception centers set up at Ocean City High School and a recreation center in Wildwood because their neighborhoods were flooded, but all had returned to their homes by 1 p.m., said Nick Morici, a spokesman for the state Office of Emergency Management. No one in New Jersey was ordered to evacuate, he added.

Lori Norcross appeared to be the only person working Friday morning on an otherwise shuttered block of Ocean City that was largely under water. She braved the floods to get to her packing and shipping business to handle express delivery packages for which people had paid extra.

"I can't get off the island; I'm here whether I want to be or not," she said. "I just had FedEx call and say they can't get close to here."

She was keeping a close eye on the intersection outside her office, which was the only one not yet inundated.

"When that intersection floods, I have to get out of here or I'll never make it out," she said.

In Manasquan, Joe Duska, a 66-year-old retiree, was photographing 15-foot waves that were smashing against an inlet rock jetty. Duska said he drove up and down the central New Jersey coastline a few days ago and looked at beaches, knowing a storm was coming, hoping to compare them with what would be left after the storm.

"The beaches are smaller already," he said. "You can see it."

New Jersey's Department of Environmental Protection sent crews to assess how much erosion the storm has caused.

School buses and SUVs in Freeport, N.Y., on Long Island's southern shore, had to navigate streets with knee-high water early Friday, but the water later subsided.

Crews tried to stabilize a 570-foot barge carrying containers of chemicals that grounded off Virginia Beach after it broke free Thursday night from a tugboat that was towing it from Puerto Rico to New Jersey.

Flood warnings remain in effect in parts of western Virginia, where the Dan River at South Boston was more than 7 feet above flood stage.

N.C. Highway 12 along the Outer Banks remained closed north of Rodanthe until at least Saturday because waves and over-washed the dunes and have damaged some sections of the highway, North Carolina Department of Transportation officials said.

More than 155,000 people in Virginia and North Carolina were without power early Friday as crews tried to restore service.

The storm forced more than a dozen schools in southern New Jersey not to open or delay opening. Schools in southern Delaware, Worcester County, Md., and Accomack County, Va., also were closed.

The storm has been blamed for five deaths across three states. The Coast Guard halted the search for three missing New Jersey fishermen whose boat sank in rough seas Wednesday night.

Three motorists died in weather-related crashes in central and eastern Virginia. In New York City, a 36-year-old surfer died after getting caught in pounding surf churned up by the storm. In North Carolina, an elderly man standing in his yard was killed when a pine tree was snapped off by strong wind and fell on him.