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Full Moon Tide A Major Concern as Sandy Nears

With Hurricane Sandy bearing down on New Jersey's coast, some fear a high tide could cause severe flooding.

If Hurricane Sandy appears along the Jersey Shore coast as predicted in the next couple of days, it will bring with it consistent and heavy rain, average wind speeds of more than 30 mph with gusts topping out at over 60 mph, and the potential for serious property damage and even possible injury.

As if it weren’t enough, Sandy’s arrival in New Jersey coincides with the full moon tide, creating a potential for flooding not seen in recent years, even during Hurricane Irene last year.

A full moon tide carries with it higher tides on average as well as more active tide creating a much higher risk for flooding. Should Sandy hit the Jersey Shore and Red Bank area directly, its heavy rains and high wind could potentially cause flooding and damage not seen, some say, since Hurricane Donna in 1960.

“We live in an area where there are a lot of tidal creeks,” Joe Chambers, parts manager at Irwin Marina said Friday. “The moon phase is critical. If (Sandy) hits on Monday, the high tides will pose a difficult problem.

At Irwin Marina, crews were busy taking boats out of the water in preparation for Sandy’s arrival. Typically the time of the year when boats are winterized and packed away on land, orders from worried customers have been coming in non-stop, Chambers said. 

Last year, the marina went through a similar process in preparation of Hurricane Irene. Though Irene eventually landed on Jersey as a tropical storm and with much less power than anticipated, it still resulted in significant flooding along the coast, and even in Red Bank, where the Navesink River overran its banks and flooded Marine Park and other riverside locations.

In Irwin Marina’s shop bay, which is elevated, Chambers said there was about four inches of water as a result of Irene. This time around, he thinks Red Bank could see much worse flooding.

“There really wasn’t too much wind (with Irene). This one’s going to be very windy. I have a bad feeling about this one,” he said. “Everyone keep their fingers crossed that this will just go away.”

Where Sandy ends up, and how much power she has when she comes to land, will determine what kind of damage she’s capable of. Red Bank Office of Emergency Management Coordinator Tommy Welsh said during a borough meeting Friday that if Sandy hits Jersey head on that its strong winds and heavy rains would push those already high tides onto land. Should New Jersey get lucky and see Sandy come to land over top of the state, or at least above the Greater Red Bank area, it will have the opposite impact and actually pull water away from land.

When it comes to flooding, however, Borough Administrator Stanley Sickles said there’s another problem. Rain is expected to arrive early Sunday and last throughout the duration of Sandy’s stay. Saturated grounds could lead to more potential flooding issues, he said.

While preparations are being made, officials don't know what impact Sandy will have until it officially arrives. Until then, businesses like Irwin Marina will do the same: prepare for the worst and hope for the best.

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