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Flooding Caused By Weekend Storm Hits New Jersey Town


Now, in this country business was disrupted in recent days by a snowstorm. Many places in the eastern part of the United States at least experienced this storm during the weekend, which would be the most convenient possible time. But now it's Monday. It's a time for some people struggle into work and for others to assess the damage. Along parts of the New Jersey shore, the biggest problem was flooding. NPR's Jeff Brady reports from south of Atlantic City.

JEFF BRADY, BYLINE: Littering the streets of North Wildwood, N.J. there's lots of storm debris, beach grass, sand toys, even a surfboard. There are just puddles now. But on Saturday morning, Debbie Young woke up to find her house was surrounded by freezing cold saltwater.

DEBBIE YOUNG: Water - water everywhere, table floating down New Jersey Avenue and the water just kept coming up higher and higher. It was just one big lake.

BRADY: This town sits on a barrier island. The storm-churned ocean destroyed beaches on the east side, and surging water from the bay flooded neighborhoods on the west side. Debbie Young's husband, Tom, says the storm surge receded with the tide.

TOM YOUNG: Nothing got into the house; it come right up to the floor boards. So we lucked out that way.

BRADY: He takes me around to see other damage.

T. YOUNG: This is my backyard. This is my man cave over here (laughter).

BRADY: Oh, and your man cave is right on the ground.

T. YOUNG: Yeah. Well, it used to be a shed.

BRADY: The chairs got a little wet, and it'll take some bleach to get rid of the smell.

T. YOUNG: There's a watermark. Right here I think it was.

BRADY: So you got - what? - about a foot of water in here.

T. YOUNG: Yes. Yeah, I got a foot of water.

BRADY: Your refrigerator is on the ground. Is that all right?

T. YOUNG: I'm going to check it. No, it's not working.

BRADY: Like most communities on the shore, North Wildwood didn't ask people to evacuate. Mayor Patrick Rosenello says that's because they had no idea the storm would be so strong.

PATRICK ROSENELLO: So we knew there was a storm coming. We knew it was going to be a significant storm. We knew we were going to experience some flooding. We did not know we were going to experience the worst flooding we've ever had.

BRADY: Below freezing temperatures make the cleanup and repairs all the more difficult for this town of nearly 4,000 people. On top of that, Rosenello says the storm will be expensive.

ROSENELLO: To the municipal infrastructure, it's in the millions. I mean, beach, dunes, things of that nature, that's millions and millions of dollars. We're not going to have a complete estimate until people start to get into their houses.

BRADY: This is a shore town, which means the tourism business is important. The city looks a little rough now after being battered by this winter storm, but Mayor Rosenello says it'll be cleaned up in plenty of time for this summer. Jeff Brady, NPR News, North Wildwood, N.J. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Jeff Brady is a National Desk Correspondent based in Philadelphia, where he covers energy issues and climate change. Brady helped establish NPR's environment and energy collaborative which brings together NPR and Member station reporters from across the country to cover the big stories involving the natural world.

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