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Officials Hope Replenishment Project Will Protect NJ Beaches From Future Storms

LONG BEACH ISLAND, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- It's officially beach season and officials have been hard at work to make the shore experience even better.

But not every beach is ready for umbrellas and beach chairs. CBS2's Meg Baker went to Long Beach Island with the Army Corps of Engineers to see first hand the progress of the beach replenishment project -- something that started even before Superstorm Sandy.

"The communities that had the dunes we constructed in the beach fill project suffered virtually no damage from Sandy from ocean current and flooding areas adjacent were devastated by ocean waves," said Keith Watson, Project Manager Army Corps Engineers of Philadelphia.

That damage shows how important the protective dunes are.

In Holgate, on Long Beach Island's southern tip houses were ripped from their foundations and tossed.

Now the dredging ship sits just offshore, pumping sand onto the beaches then bulldozed into place, one section of beach at a time.

"These projects help reduce the damage that comes from coastal storms. By reducing damages less emergency money that FEMA and other emergency has to put out to protect rebuild communities, we are here to help communities as a whole," Watson said.

An orange fence blocked off beach goers at 118th Street, but won't be there for long as it moves 100 feet each day as part of the rolling project expected to be completed in August.

The process was delayed -- with 900 easements needed for the Long Beach TWP project alone. All have been signed except for about 60 hold outs which are in the process of eminent domain.

The 12.2 mile project cost $128 million, funded by the federal government, Baker reported.

Some residents questioned the project.

"I think the ocean is going to take the sand away and therefore it's a boondoggle," said resident Corinna.

Another resident disagreed.

"I remember what happened during Sandy and how the dunes did protect some of the houses," Julia said. "I'm sure it's a very expensive project but worth it."

It was hard to find anyone else on the beach who was not supportive of the project.

"I think it's going to be a great thing for the beach -- if it protects the houses, the island," said Karen DeRosa.

"It's going to be terrific once it gets done," resident Dennis said. "It's going to save a lot of money for a lot of people."

The project is expected to be completed by April 2016.

The work is part of a $1.2 billion appropriation by Congress to return the beaches to a better condition than they were in before the storm hit.

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