Category Archives: flooding

Guest Blogger: Stacey Pritchard on Rain Barrel Grant in Highlands

This one was raffled in 2014 in a community project to raise awareness in Vermont.

Image Courtesy of

If you have not heard, Highlands has received a grant from NJ American Water for Rain Barrels. This grant is for environmental concerns and is for ten thousand dollars ($10k). Highlands is expecting to be able to buy at least 100 barrels, and possibly more with those funds to distribute to homeowners in Highlands.

A survey to be able to get your name in for a barrel should be published on the town website sometime this week, according to the town administrator Tim Hill.

Now many people may roll their eyes and think oh yeah… rain barrels “whoop di dooo…” no big deal.

Well one or two don’t make a huge difference beyond the garden and yard of the person using them. But for every barrel (which on average are 55 gallons) that is less water running directly into our drainage systems with a heavy rain fall. Even a fairly small roof line of 800 Square feet can produce up to 500 gallons of water in a 1/2 inch rainfall. When that water is hitting driveways ad sidewalks, which is not uncommon in our small densely packed streets, it is going right into the drainage systems and contributes to some of our flooding issues.


By diverting the water to enter the system at a non rainfall event, each rain barrel used can contribute to less street flooding in our little town.  Just like with recycling efforts, when we start working together as a community our individual efforts can add up quickly. Of course there are other great benefits beyond the flooding issues.


Rainwater is highly oxygenated, free of the salts, inorganic ions, and fluoride compounds contained in tap water that accumulate in the soil over time and potentially harm plant roots. Use of rainwater in your garden dilutes this impact, making plants more drought-tolerant, healthy, and strong. I have already started my seeds and cannot wait to start planting my garden this year, and feel even better when I can be as green as possible with the way I tend it. Why worry about my organic food when I then flood them with tap water?


You’ll help to reduce runoff pollution. When it rains, runoff picks up soil, fertilizer, oil, pesticides and other contaminants and pushes them into other areas of the landscape. These pollutants can increase algae growth in lakes, alter the habitat for fish, and even make lakes and oceans dangerous for recreational activities. Your water collecting stops some of this damaging flow. This is one of the most important issues for me. Living downtown, especially in the spring, I watch as a great deal of run off flows off the lawns of homes further up the hill. I know that many of these lawns are being treated with chemicals that are being picked up and carried on to my sidewalks, where my dogs are walking and picking up all sorts of toxins. Not to mention draining into the water.

You’ll have a fresh, green way to wash your cars and pets. Rainwater doesn’t have the salt and other chemicals found in tap water.


Rain runoff is also a particular issue in places where land erosion is a concern. Your rain catch will be especially helpful in these cases.


You can reduce your water bill. Garden and lawn watering accounts for 40 percent of residential water use during the summer, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Thanks to a rain barrel’s water catch, the typical gardener can save 1,300 gallons of water during the growing season.

Oh and finally… If you don’t like the way the barrel looks… you can always get creative and paint it.


Rutgers Storm Water Management
How To Install A Rain Barrel
What To Do If There Is Sediment In Your Rain Barrel

Raising your Highlands House 2015

For the last two years I’ve surveyed on where people are with regard to their housing raising. I wanted to run this again to see house raising surveyhow things progressed..

In 2013, 36.5% were waiting on the FEMA standards to be finalized. In 2014, 35% were waiting on approvals of a grant. Any grant even though the FEMA standards were not officially adopted.  In 2013, 36% we NOT going to lift, in 2014 that number dropped to 22.5%.  In 2013, 21% were actively looking for a lifter or had already hired a lifter.  In 2014, 20% had lifted.  In 2014, 10% were in the process of hiring a lifter.

So NOW in 2015, where are you with your lift:

What Do You Want For Highlands in 2015

A year ago I did a post with a poll on what you wanted to see for Highlands in the year 2014. The results were:

results jan 2014

What did we accomplish?

We did NOT start any of the flood mitigation projects. And when I say start, I mean actually start, voting on starting does not count as actually starting the projects.

We did NOT stabilize taxes, Highlands incurred a 9% municipal tax increase.

We did NOT merge with another town in 2014.

We DID get more people in living in town in 2014, although many are still not back yet.

We DID alter zoning so that if people rebuilt in their footprint it wouldn’t be as onerous.

We did NOT start building down by the Oyster, unfortunately there were more hurdles, but the property has been cleaned up.

We DID streamline the process to open a business by changing  just doing background checks instead of fingerprinting.

We did NOT revamp the Masterplan in 2014 however, it’s not off table for 2015.

We did NOT build a hi-rise in Shadow lawn.

We DID have more rides at Clamfest.

What do you want to see for 2015? (Top 3)

Snug Harbor to Atlantic Street – A future with hope is coming..

January 8, 2015
future with hopeTwo Leaders in Sandy Recovery, A Future With Hope and St. Bernard Project, Are Teaming Up to Help Highlands residents who need construction and recovery help as a result of super storm sandy.  Both organizations have capacity to help more people.  starting Dec. 29, representatives from both organizations will be Walking each street of highlands to Make a Visual assessment of each home and follow-up with homeowners to make sure that all homeowners in Highlands have a path to safe and secure housing.


What:                                   Qualified staff from A Future With Hope and St. Bernard Project will assess Highlands street by street to identify properties in need of repair and contact owners to offer assistance.


When:                                  Starting Dec. 29, 2014

Where:                                Highlands, N.J. starting at Snug Harbor Ave. and working toward Atlantic St.

About A Future With Hope:

A Future With Hope is a nonprofit organization started by the United Methodist Church of Greater New Jersey to lead relief and recovery efforts after Superstorm Sandy.  Skilled volunteers come from all over the United States to rebuild homes.  The organization’s goal is to use 20,000 volunteers to help rebuild 300 to 500 homes and give case management to affected families.


Through the end of December, they have completed more than 123 homes throughout the state and 10 homes in Highlands.  They have completed work in 21 different communities including Atlantic City, Brick, Forked River, Highlands, Keansburg, Little Egg Harbor, Manahawkin, Ocean Gate, Union Beach and others.  For more information please visit


About St. Bernard Project:
St. Bernard Project is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to make sure that communities affected by disaster have the resources to recovery.  The residential rebuilding program in Monmouth County serves home owners who lack the financial means necessary to rebuild on their own.  St. Bernard’s New Jersey operations are committed to the long-term recovery of Monmouth County.   For more information, please visit


A Future With Hope Contact:

Carolyn Conover  office 732-359-1016  cell 310-850-1940


St. Bernard Project Contact:

Chad Carson       cell:  504-222-2972

Public Notice

(Rusty) signs of Sandy

rusty signsHomes aren’t the only thing that were affected by Sandy. Some of the [street] signs that were submerged are showing the after-effects of Sandy as well.

So add this to the to-do list of Sandy clean up:

Make a list of submerged street signs that either need to come down or replaced.

Thanksgiving in Highlands = Nor’easter

surfing turkeyMeteorologists are tracking a potential nor’easter that could result in rain or snow falling in New Jersey this Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving.

The track of the storm is still up in the air, but the possibility for a heavy rain or a snow event is likely, forecasters say. The National Weather Service activated its Hazardous Weather Outlook on Saturday, warning of a coastal storm that could produce either snow or rain changing to snow the day before Thanksgiving, impacting holiday travel.

Does this sound familiar? Maybe because the same forecast was predicted for the last 2 years.

In 2012 – Thanksgiving Nor’Easter expected in Highlands

and again in 2013 – “What the Thanksgiving Nor’Easter means to Highlands

Who is Carolyn Broullon and how do you pronounce that last name?

carolynCarolyn Broullon has thrown her hat in the local Highlands political ring. The timing of when she gets in, next May or the following November, is up to you and how you vote in this November’s election of when the next Non-Partisan Election should be.

Here is her statement on who she is and what she stands for:

I discovered Highlands in 2002 while looking for a vacation home. After a few months, I realized what an amazing town this is and got rid of my NYC apartment to live here full time. It took a while to learn all my neighbor’s names and stories since I worked in Manhattan and wasn’t around from 7:30 am – 7:30 pm on workdays. Now, I’m proud to say we’re not just neighbors but good friends.

After Sandy, so many of us were either living out of town or simply couldn’t make it up the hill to go to the council meetings, so my wife and I signed up for a free account, bought a USB microphone and started streaming the meetings from our Mac laptop. We felt it was important for those displaced to have a way to see the council meetings, to participate in our future.

At the end of last summer, a group of residents came together to try to help the town move forward by re-introducing non-partisan elections to Highlands. We met as strangers with different ideas and party affiliations, but banded together to make our town more than just Democrats and Republicans. After knocking on doors and educating residents on how non-partisan election work, we successfully changed how we elect our council people in Highlands. This is now a direct process in which political party leaders do not choose who is on the ballot, Highlanders do.

My professional background has prepared me well for serving Highlands. I’ve been working in market research since 1992, coordinating international fieldwork, conducting focus groups and managing staff. My start in research was at Data Development, now known as Radius Global Market Research [one of the largest independent market research firm in the US], then on to Research International, now a part of TNS in the WPP Group [one of the top 5 market research firms in the world].  From 1999-2006, I had my own research business then I went on to my current position Vice President of Gazelle Global.

Skills I’ve honed along the way include budgeting, staff management, contract negotiations and conflict resolution.  Most of all, my training has given me the tools to listen to people and transform those thoughts and ideas into action.  I believe I can use my business experience to help our town. Now that I’m working from home, I have the time to do just that. We need so many things, but we must also prioritize.

Here’s a short list of actions I believe will make a difference in everyday Highlander’s lives:

1. Negotiate a resolution to Borough Hall and the Community Center empty buildings

2. Aggressive code enforcement to bring in much needed revenue

3. Review current operational cost and make cuts where appropriate

4. Remove ordinances that hinder new business development

We need to embrace the use of volunteers to contribute to a town-wide recovery including: light construction, painting, weed-whacking and street sweeping. There are many things we can do locally, without state or Federal funding. We have many tradespeople in town that can guide volunteers to complete much needed projects.

Those of you that know me have seen this example, but for those of you who do not:

In December of 2008, a serve flood wiped out a road to a state park in Hawaii. After being told by the state that repairs would take $4 million dollars and up to 2 years to fix, the residents and business owners came together, rented heavy equipment, got some volunteers, and in April of 2009, they did it themselves, in 8 days.

What’s on your short list? What are your ideas? Don’t be shy. Tell me. I’m listening.

Yours for Highlands,


P.S. Broullon is pronounced brew-yawn. Just think: You brew coffee so you don’t yawn.

Town Hall Meeting notes from 9/15

NJ Future logoMonday night’s town hall meeting, wasn’t necessarily a “town hall meeting” like past meetings have been conducted. Steve Nelson from NJ Future presented a summary of the SRPR (Strategic Recovery Planning Report).  – If you hear people speak about the SRPR you now know what it stands for.

The SRPR was worked on by Steve Nelson (who also handles the SRPR in Sea Bright as well as Highlands) and a Steering Committee in Highlands made up of Art Gallagher, Larry Colby, Mayor Nolan, Tim Hill and Kevin Redmond.  I don’t know how they were chosen to make up the steering committee, I would personally put someone else on just to have a different perspective, but that’s just me.)

The council is going to go through the report in its entirety and then vote on adopting the report as a road map to move the town forward (R-14-199) in Wednesday’s Night Council Meeting.

Chapter 1 of the report – goes over the demographics of Highlands (Although admittedly they used pre-sandy demographics).

Chapter 2 of the report – goes over the impact assessment of what Sandy did to Highlands.

Chapter 3 of the report – goes over future risk assessment

  • Future Hazards
  • Risks
  • Potential Impacts/exposure of Sea Level Rising
  • Cohesion of the community
  • Governmental Services

Chapter 4 of the report covers Getting Resilient

  • Communication and outreach

In this chapter they looked at the current Master plan, current zoning, the Planning Documents from Rutgers studio and the recommended FEMA plan

Chapter 5 Assessment of Existing Planning and Zoning Documents (such as)

  • Clam Plant Zoning
  • Bayshore Region Strategic Plan (from before Sandy)
  • Masterplan from 2004 and the re-examination of MP in 2008
  • Monmouth County Haz Mitigation plan (2009)
  • Current Zoning Ordinance for Highlands Recovery Strategy

Chapter 6 Recommendations (not in order of priority)

  • Storm water piping from Rt 36
  • Property maintenance and code compliance
  • Steep Slope mitigation
  • Municipal Facilities Plan (i.e. where to put Town Hall/PD)
  • Obtain NFIP compliance & apply for CRS certification
  • Sewer upgrades (I&I)
  • Pump Station Repairs, install “new” catch basins, pipes etc
  • Economic viability of Clamming Study
  • Determine the need of redevelopment and where it should be
  • Update Boro Haz Mitigation Plan
  • Update municipal codes, plans and strategies to handle future flooding risks, hazards and vulnerabilities
  • Update the latest version of the FEMA’s flood maps using “best available flood hazard data or most stringent version”

Chapter 7 includes the Who, What, When and dollar amount to achieve the recommendations.

To view presentation from town hall CLICK HERE

To view NJ Future’s Report CLICK HERE

Who’s Job Is it Anyway?

finger pointingAnybody remember the story of  four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody.

The following is the Highlands Version:

There was an important job in Highlands to be done and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it.

Anybody could have done it, but Nobody in Highlands did it.

Somebody got angry about that because it was Everybody’s job.

Everybody thought that Anybody in Highlands could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it.

It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody in Highlands could have done.

There are 3 main reasons why Highlands should move past blame and into effective action.

1) It is far more productive to focus on corrective action in the future.

2) It’s less expensive to get on to a solution instead of investing good money after bad simply to point the finger of blame.  i.e. like why we (Highlands) didn’t have flood insurance on our municipal buildings. The reality is we didn’t have it, we can’t change that, how do we put our town buildings back together without it and make sure we’re covered in the future.

3) Even if you can perfectly decide who was to blame, most likely those to blame will never ever admit to it and you still have to solve the problems at hand. Energy is better spent and figuring on how can we move on, get better, learn from this, and make sure it doesn’t happen again.

Leadership is very much needed in Highlands and we have to be able to get past simple blame games and exhibit  positive leadership if we want to move forward as a community.



Two River Times Highlights Borough Trailers

borough trailerThis week The Two River Times did an article on Highlands again. Specifically on how Highlands Borough and PD is still being run out of Trailers.

“We’re not closing the door on any options” said Borough Administrator Tim Hill, who hopes to have a more definitive direction by next month.”

Options they are considering include:

  • Demolishing and rebuilding 171 Bay Ave
  • Repairing and refurbishing 171 Bay Ave
  • Seeking another location entirely

Gee nothing has changed since the storm.

“The council hasn’t spoken publicly about which option it prefers at this point,”

I think I remember they had a meeting at Ptak where they spoke about options and them leaning towards building a brandy new facility.  Anybody else? I did a follow up post about it.

To read the full TRT article click here


Guest Blogger Carolyn Broullon: NJ Future Wants to Hear from You

NJ Future logoNJ Future has teamed up with a research scientist from Carnegie Mellon University to support Highlands in our effort to develop a long-term resiliency plan.  One part of this support involves reaching out to and engaging with the public to talk about flooding risk and plausible solutions. To that end, they developed a short survey to understand how best to talk about these issues with community members.

Please help our community in its plan for recovery and resiliency:
This 10-15 minute survey will ask about your beliefs on flooding and flooding risk.  Your answers will help Highlands and NJ Future make plans for long-term community resiliency.  In a few months, you will receive a summary of the answers given by the community.

Here is the link to the survey:

Your participation is greatly appreciated!

Sandy damage and insurance query

flood insuranceNJ Senator Menendez has been investigating aspects of Sandy survivors’ insurance experiences – specifically with NFIP (Nat’l Flood Insurance) claims.

The Senator’s staff is looking to speak with any New Jersey residents (or case managers) who’ve tried appealing their flood claim payout.
Please contact:
Amy Bach, Esq., Executive Director
United Policyholders
381 Bush St., 8th Fl.
San Francisco, CA 94104
Tel.  415-393-9990Fax: 415-677-4170, Website:

United Policyholders (“UP”) is a non-profit information resource and a voice for insurance consumers in all 50 states.  We give you the straight scoop on insurance matters. We don’t accept financial support from insurance companies.  We don’t give legal advice or endorse or warrant any of our sponsors.  Check them out on  Facebook

Should Highlands Be Counting Abandoned Houses?

SeaDrifthouseAccording to the Jackson, NJ Council introduced an ordinance that allows local officials to force owners of abandoned homes to register their property. The 130 abandoned or vacant properties in Jackson aren’t necessarily from Sandy, they are mainly due to the downturn in the economy.

“People should not be living next to a home that’s been foreclosed upon where grass is 10 feet tall, there’s a health issue there,” stated Jackson Councilman Martin.

The concerns about abandoned properties include houses collapsing, vermin and potential fires caused by homeless people seeking shelter or vandals.

Apparently Howell, NJ also adopted a Real Property Mortgage Registration ordinance last August that requires mortgage holders to meet stricter maintenance and security standards.

By potentially adopting a similar ordinance, Highlands could more easily identify properties that are truly abandoned from properties where owners are in RREM flux and actually are planning on coming back.

Dates & Sandy Deadlines


You can go to for information as well as the different agencies that you can register with.

You can also apply at an office in another county near work etc. if that is easier for you.

However, the Affordable Housing Alliance is taking clients at the 181 Bay Ave (United Methodist Church) site on Mondays.


If you do not have a case manager, contact Catholic Charities at 877-510-6762 and ask for a Disaster Intake.  Or the American Red Cross at 732-493-9100.

Monmouth County Office on Aging Super Storm Sandy Victims Home Repair and Advocacy Grant in Highlands Friday June 27

The Monmouth County Office on Aging Super Storm Sandy Victims Home Repair and Advocacy Grant people will be at 19 Bay Ave (aka Solution Center) on Friday June 27.

In order to qualify for assistance under this program, you must meet the following eligibility requirements:
• You, and/or your spouse must be at least 60 years old or disabled
• The property must have been damaged by Superstorm Sandy
• You must own the property, and use it as your primary residence

email or call  732-431-7460

Are The Extra Workshops Helping Sea Bright Recover?

In a recent post on Word at the Shore Sea Bright Officials highlighted the importance of improving the borough’s riverfront and access to it. It went on the outline how they are currently in the permitting process with DEP and how a landscape architect is donating services for a landscaping plan for a proposed new park.

Which got me thinking how is Sea Bright doing it? What do their council agendas/meetings look like and how are they different than ours. So I looked. One of things I noticed is that in 2014 they added workshopssb mun web site to their monthly meetings.

Are they legally “required” to have these meetings, probably not. However these are the topics discussed at their extra meetings: (Taken from March 2014 WorkShop)



1.Municipal Parking Lot(Chief Sorrentino)

2Public Assistance Projects, FEMA and Insurance Updates (N. Sherman)

3.Dune systemupdate (Verruni/Mayor Long/Murphy/Philpot)

4.Cell Tower (Kelly)

5.Beach Pavilion (Kelly/Verruni)

6.Firehouse update (Verruni/Sherman)

7.Police Building update (Chief Sorrentino)

8.NJ Maritime Resources/Beach sand (Murphy/Verruni) enc.

9.Director of Public Safety (Verruni)

10.Appointment of Safe Evacuation Committee (Mayor Long)


To put things in perspective, here is our agenda for the next meeting this Wednesday June 18


Friday June 13 = Full Moon in Highlands

moon over hartshorne woods This Friday in Highlands is both Friday the 13th and a Full Moon (or Honey Moon), the next time those two things will converge is 2049. The last time it happened was Oct. 13, 2000.

In pagan times, June weddings would be celebrated by drinking a Honey Liquor.  Hence the June moon was called the “Honey Moon”.  Also the origin of the word “Honeymoon.”

Since full moons and Friday the 13ths are rumored to cause bad luck, or make people act strange, what will happen in Highlands when they converge?

I predict street flooding, loud bar patrons and the PD is going to be busy.