Shore -- can often produce dramatic results, experts say.
"There's no magic formula for dealing with the situation," said Karl Nordstrom, a marine and coastal sciences professor at Rutgers University.
John A. Miller, a member of Governor Christie's Passaic River Basin Flood Advisory Commission who works at Princeton Hydro, a water and wetlands engineering consulting firm, agreed. "There's no silver bullet," he said.
A roller coaster swept into the ocean and homes knocked off their foundations by storm surge have become iconic images of Sandy's wrath at the Shore. Mantoloking lost nearly 150 feet of beach.
But some shoreline communities escaped much of that devastation. In Harvey Cedars, Surf City and Long Beach Township's Brant Beach -- places where projects had been completed to rebuild eroded beaches and dunes by pumping sand from the ocean floor onto the shore -- damage was comparatively minimal, said Daniel Barone of the Coastal Research Center at Richard Stockton College.
"Beach nourishment is still the first line of defense," said Steve Hafner, who also works with the Coastal Research Center. "And it provides recreational attraction that generates tourism dollars."
The state devotes $25 million a year to beach replenishment projects, protecting a tourism industry that generates nearly $20 billion a year. "That return on investment seems to make sense," Barone said.
Beach replenishment can be achieved in many ways. In the past few years, a $500,000 project in Beach Haven involved installation of 390-foot-long geotubes -- large textile tubes filled with sand laid parallel to the shore and then covered with more sand to create new dunes. Beach fill projects involving more than 2 million cubic yards of sand in Strathmere, North Wildwood and Stone Harbor cost $20 million, and a dune project in Egg Harbor Township involving rock-filled gabion baskets cost $265,000.
The state Department of Environmental Protection advocates beach replenishment over "hardening" the shoreline with more solid structures, such as bulkheads or groins -- the jetty-like structures made from rocks that jut out perpendicular to the shore. While groins can help capture sand to protect one section of beach, they can starve another section of beach, DEP spokesman Larry Hajna said.
There are downsides to beach replenishment. "It's a Band-Aid. Beach replenishment doesn't last forever," Auermuller said. "You have to keep doing it over and over and there's a big price tag."
The projects can harm the ecosystem where the ocean floor is mined for sand. And some homeowners have opposed dune-building proposals because they obstruct their ocean views.
But in the aftermath of Sandy, it was clear that areas that had allowed the beach work fared better, said Joseph Mancini, the mayor of Long Beach Township. He has argued that homeowners who blocked beach replenishment should bear the cost of cleanup and restoration in their sections of town.
Building code changes can also reduce storm damage. Homes built after 1992 fared better during Sandy than older structures, said Henry Kelly, a builder and past president of the Shore Builders Association of Central New Jersey.
The difference: Those newer homes were built to meet codes updated after
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