Margate — State made us install dunes, and now we’re seeing real trouble
MARGATE — Residents say dunes forced upon them by a lost court battle with New Jersey are creating a public health hazard —pointing to heavy flooding behind the dunes over the weekend.
The complaints came to a head after the heavy rain on Friday night and Saturday night that dropped several inches of rain, forming a large "lake" of water on the sand. Mayor Michael Becker told New Jersey 101.5 that the water had gone down very little as of Monday afternoon.
Becker said a meeting will be held at 11 a.m on Wednesday at City Hall to discuss hiring legal counsel to file an injunction against the Army Corp of Engineers and the state Department of Environmental Protection to stop the dune project.
"We've been fighting this battle for five years. We told them the water won't drain. We have a drainage problem but they never listened. We went to court twice. Experts testified (the water) won't percolate and disappear within 24 hours. Well we're 80 hours from the end of the storm and we still have lots of water. It's an old case of 'I told you so,'" Becker said.
The mayor said the city and residents accepted a loss in court that allowed the dune project to start after seven homeowners gave up their litigation.
"Everybody was okay until this water started ponding up. Now it's like World War III down there. They're very upset at the Corp of Engineers and the DEP.
Swimming was not allowed on the beach Saturday after the rain fell but has since been reopened.
"You can come to the beach. Margate is still open," Becker said.
Becker said the dunes created an unmanagable ponding situation on six or seven streets in the city. He said the city would simply take a bulldozer and run a trench to the ocean to deal with ponding water.
"They certainly were aware of this," Becker said.
Margate sustained serious damage during superstorm Sandy in 2012, but homeowners sought to block the construction of dunes in the borough, which relies on wooden bulkheads to protect against storm surges.
Local officials claimed most of the Sandy flooding came from the bay, not the Atlantic Ocean. And a federal judge in February declined Margate's request to block the dunes, ruling that the opponents’ fears — including transmission of the Zika virus — were not realistic.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Contact reporter Dan Alexander at email@example.com.