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July 12, 2017

Rising sea level means flooding coming to some unexpected towns in New Jersey

Fourteen beach towns threatened in South Jersey, but eventually also places like Camden, Collingswood

About those rising sea level predictions: forget about ‘em. Why? They are far worse than forecast.

An analysis by the Union of Concerned Scientists looked at “chronic inundation” – defined as a flooding of 10 percent or more of a town’s land mass at least 26 times a year. 

The study found it likely 21 New Jersey towns will fit that definition by 2035.

Today, there are seven such towns throughout the state and just two such towns from Ocean County and south and along the Delaware Bay: Salem and West Wildwood.

Under the best-case scenario for rising sea level routinely causing floods in 2035, the additional communities in Ocean County and southward are:

Beach Haven; Long Beach Township; Lower Alloway Creek; North Wildwood; Ocean City; Pennsville; Seaside Park, Tuckerton and Wildwood.

Under a worst-case scenario for a sea rise for the same time period in the same region, the added towns are:

Brigantine, Longport, Mantoloking, Ship Bottom and Ventnor City.

And the number of routinely flooded towns will increase over time, according to the study.

In the year 2100, under the worst-case scenario, 135 towns in all of New Jersey will flood routinely.

That includes places not routinely considered flood-prone now, such as: Camden, Collingswood, Linwood, West Deptford and Woodlynne.

More than 92 percent of Atlantic City will flood in the year 2100 under the worst-case scenario, according to the study. 

More than 94 percent of Sea Isle, 93 percent of Stone Harbor and 89 percent of Avalon will flood. 

Cape May will flood over 79 percent and Ocean City more than 98 percent. 

Wildwood will be above 99 percent flooded.

Nearly 99 percent of Ventnor will flood. 

And Longport will flood 100 percent, according to the study.

To address the problem, the study calls for:

Changing development priorities in flood-prone areas, changing flood insurance protection, updating building codes, funding hazard mitigation efforts, and protecting natural flood buffers.

In the worst cases, relocating homeowners and businesses are the only options, according to the study.