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Hurricane Sandy Stops Dredging Projects; Devastates U.S. East Coast

This National Geodetic Survey photo of the shoreline at Belmar, New Jersey before and after the hurricane shows how the wind and storm surge devastated structures and depleted the beach. Shorelines with well-maintained dune systems protected the inland structures as they were designed to do.

This National Geodetic Survey photo of the shoreline at Belmar, New Jersey before and after the hurricane shows how the wind and storm surge devastated structures and depleted the beach. Shorelines with well-maintained dune systems protected the inland structures as they were designed to do.

A view of Marcol's 10-inch dredge Capt. Leo, after it was swamped by a storm surge from Hurricane Sandy at Shallowbag Bay, North Carolina, on October 29. Richard Mazyck, Marcol QC officer, took this photo.

A view of Marcol's 10-inch dredge Capt. Leo, after it was swamped by a storm surge from Hurricane Sandy at Shallowbag Bay, North Carolina, on October 29. Richard Mazyck, Marcol QC officer, took this photo.

A view of Marcol's 10-inch dredge Capt. Leo, after was swamped by a storm surge from Hurricane Sandy at Shallowbag Bay, North Carolina, on October 29. The bulkhead on the lower left is a parking lot, which was under two feet of water during the surge. Ri

A view of Marcol's 10-inch dredge Capt. Leo, after was swamped by a storm surge from Hurricane Sandy at Shallowbag Bay, North Carolina, on October 29. The bulkhead on the lower left is a parking lot, which was under two feet of water during the surge. Ri

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Philadelphia District Commander Lt. Col. Chris Becking and three coastal engineers conducted a flyover on October 31 to assess damages along the coast. This photo of the Indian River Inlet, Delaware, taken during that flight,

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Philadelphia District Commander Lt. Col. Chris Becking and three coastal engineers conducted a flyover on October 31 to assess damages along the coast. This photo of the Indian River Inlet, Delaware, taken during that flight,

Storm surge damage in Atlantic City in a Corps of Engineers photo taken November 1.

Storm surge damage in Atlantic City in a Corps of Engineers photo taken November 1.

Hurricane Sandy Stops Dredging Projects; Devastates U.S. East Coast

BY JUDITH POWERS


Hurricane Sandy came ashore on the U.S. East Coast on the evening of Monday, October 29 in a swath that affected the shoreline from South Carolina to New York.

Dredging companies got enough warning to get their equipment and people into safe harbor before the storm hit. Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Company (GLDD) had the most affected equipment, which was working at eight sites in the area, involving 75 pieces of equipment and 350 people. All were brought into safe harbor and out again after the storm without incident, Bill Hanson, vice president of business development, told IDR.

In a company memo, Dave Simonelli, GLDD president of Dredging Operations said, “We commend the extraordinary efforts of our project teams and crews onshore and aboard the dredges, boats, and attendant plant at the following sites: Delaware River Project – Dredge Florida and Booster Reggie; Baltimore Harbor Project – Dredges No. 54, No. 55 and Unloader No. 2; Ambrose Channel 3B Project – Dredges Padre Island, Dodge Island, and Terrapin Island; Far Rockaway Project – Dredge Illinois; Davisville Project – Dredge No. 53; Shinnecock Project – Mob team; Seabright Project – Mob team; and Staten Island Yard.

“These teams planned and executed the safe and efficient demobilization of each site, secured our plant for the coming storm, and safely and effectively responded to the situation throughout the emergency. A credit to their preparedness, our personnel and equipment survived Hurricane Sandy without incident. Dredging has already recommenced on several sites while dredges are remobilizing on the remainder,” Simonelli said.

Contacted on November 5, Dudley Ware, president of Norfolk Dredging Company, said that its dredge Essex was working in the Delaware River and shut down for the duration of the storm without incident. He expected mobilization to a project at Cape May to be delayed as a result of the storm.
Marcol Dredging Company of Charleston, South Carolina, was working in Walter Slough, part of the Manteo Shallowbag Bay contract in North Carolina, with its dredge Capt. Leo when the hurricane approached. The crew pulled the dredge into a marina adjacent to the slough to wait out the storm on the evening of October 29. However, waves from the storm swamped the dredge where it was tied.

“It didn’t go all the way to the bottom,” Marcol President Craig Lavelle said. He explained that the crew attached air bags to stabilize the dredge until it could be taken to a nearby drydock. It was necessary to haul the dredge out of the water and flush out all the systems, including the fuel and hydraulic tanks. The Capt. Leo, a 10-inch DSC swinging ladder dredge, was back at work a week later.

Marcol is working as a sub-contractor to Southern Dredging Company’s Manteo Shallowbag Bay contract, in turn a result of Hurricane Irene, which closed off a number of inlets to North Carolina fishing villages on Aug. 11, 2011. The funding for Manteo and other dredging responses to Irene was allocated by the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2012 – P.L. 112-77 – which appropriated emergency funds for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2012. The Wilmington Corps District received the funding for its emergency projects in February 2012, Bob Keister, Wilmington District navigation project manager told IDR.

Southern Dredging Company will move its dredge Cherokee to the job after Marcol completes the shallow Walter Slough portion, and will take about three months to complete the job, David Dent, president of Southern Dredging, told IDR. Manteo is a $4.6 million contract.

Bill Hanson told IDR that “coastal projects that were maintained performed well; those that had not been funded were where most of the damage occurred. As we always say, you can spend millions on maintenance or billions on repairs,” he said.

A case in point was Long Beach Island (LBI), New Jersey, where areas protected by dunes were saved, and areas without dune protection were destroyed. Plans to build a Corps of Engineers-designed 22-foot-high dune system along the full length of the island have been foiled by homeowners who don’t want their view and access to the beach spoiled.

According to an article in the New Jersey Star-Ledger, LBI Mayor Joe Mancini said after the storm that homeowners who have been holding up the dune project would have to sign the easement for the dune to be built, build the dune themselves, pay the city for the construction after the fact, or face condemnation of their property.

NOAA’s National Geodetic Survey took photos of the damaged coastal and harbor areas from an altitude of 5,000 feet, and made before and after images available of the hardest-hit areas in the Northeast.

Sandy had a minimum central pressure of 946 mb (millibars) when it made landfall, which was the second-lowest pressure of any storm to come ashore north of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, reported Andrew Freedman in Climate Central. Only the hurricane of 1938 had a lower air pressure reading at landfall that far north, which was 941 mb. In general, the lower the air pressure, the stronger the storm.

“Atlantic City, Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Trenton, New Jersey all set records for the lowest air pressure reading ever recorded. At Atlantic City, which was close to the storm’s landfall location, the pressure fell to 945.6 mb, smashing the record of 961 mb, set in 1932. In Philadelphia, the pressure dropped to 953 mb, which broke the old record of 963 mb set during the “Superstorm of 1993,” Freedman wrote.

Freedman described some significant storm surges during Sandy, measured as feet above the average low tide: 14.38 feet at Kings Point, New York; 13.88 feet or 9.15 feet above the average high-tide line at The Battery in Lower Manhattan; and 13.31 feet or 8.1 feet above the average high-tide line at Sandy Hook, New Jersey.

The storm surge at The Battery broke the old record, which was recorded during Hurricane Donna in 1960. It also broke the record of 11.2 feet from a powerful hurricane that struck the region in 1821, Freedman wrote.

Marsha Cohen, Jan Hodges and Al Barrett contributed to the research for this article.

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