This is Ventnor, NJ, where my father happily lives next to the ocean (in a high-rise way above the water). That long lump to the right of the boardwalk is a nice, big dune, built to protect property and maybe lives should a rare hurricane or monster nor'easter hit our shores.

And this is Margate, NJ, right next door to Ventnor. They have a nice wide, flat beach, with no dunes.

Margate officials and some vocal residents have fought for years against having dunes. The dunes would hurt the view from the first floor of some of the million-dollar homes on the beach. We can't have that. They continue to battle Gov. Christie on the issue. A Philly.com article a few days ago quoted Dan Gottlieb, called the leader of the anti-dune movement:

"Maybe instead of bellowing from the bully pulpit, the governor should come to Margate and see the effectiveness of our system. I will personally take him on a tour."

The article continued: "Gottlieb and others in Margate say the town's bulkheads are adequate to protect the oceanfront, and they point out that most Sandy damage was on the bayside."

The bulkheads are shown in this picture, taken by someone who has visited Margate — me.

Ask the people along the Northern New Jersey beaches if they wish they had dunes before Sandy hit. It's no coincidence that the beaches that had dunes suffered much less flood damage than those without them. At the time of Sandy, some parts of Long Beach Island had dunes, while others were waiting to get them put in. They were big dunes — waaaay bigger than those Ventnor ones shown above. A lot of residents complained about the blocked views and the uncomfortable hike up and down the dunes to get to the water — until Sandy hit. Then they were glad that their houses were saved from flooding-or even destruction.


So, how did Margate survive the "Superstorm?" Was it the town's magical bulkheads? No. It was because Margate didn't get the storm surge from Sandy. The center of Sandy made landfall near Atlantic City, and moved directly east to west. Seeing that winds blow counter-clockwise around low pressure, it is clear that any place south of Atlantic City had a strong offshore west wind ahead of landfall. So, instead of the ocean building higher and higher as the center approached, the west wind actually counteracted the eastward surge. That caused the waves and water level to be much less than in areas north of Atlantic City. And guess where Margate is?

If Sandy had tracked a mere 50 miles farther south, the Margate beaches would have indeed been tested. And there will be a day when a storm like Sandy (or even stronger — Sandy was barely a hurricane just before landfall) hits. The ocean will have no resistance as it rushes toward the houses. The water level will rise to a point well above the bulkheads, which will then make them useless. We saw the power of water with the incredible damage after Sandy. Margate would likely look like Mantoloking, where the ocean broke through and met the bay.

Do you really think a little bulkhead would protect Margate from this?


I love Margate. I have several relatives and friends who own or rent there. I go to their wonderful restaurants and stores and have even danced at "Memories." It would be horrible to see something bad happen there that could have been prevented.

One of the jobs of government that we can all agree on is the protection of life and property. Dunes will do that. And the government is offering them to you. Please say "yes."

Glenn "Hurricane" Schwartz

Chief Meteorologist, NBC10 Philadelphia