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Jersey Shore Town Unveils New Flood Warning System

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SEA ISLE CITY, N.J. (CBS) -- Like many barrier island communities, Sea Isle City is no stranger to coastal flooding. On Monday, officials in the shore town unveiled new flood warning signs to keep people out of harm's way.

Streets can turn into canals pretty quickly at the Jersey Shore. When, where and how deep it floods can be tricky for drivers, but Sea Isle City wants to unravel the mystery.

The city's new flood warning system consists of 78 flashing signs hooked up to sensors in some of the shore town's most flooded streets.

"I'm told this is the most comprehensive flood warning system in the state of New Jersey and we're very proud of this," said Sea Isle City Mayor Len Desiderio.

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The city's Traffic Maintenance Department came up with the idea to eliminate the guessing game about whether it's safe to travel through a flooded area.

"So, hopefully with this system, it's just another notification for them that they'll see that it stands out and they'll hopefully turn around or hopefully stay home and not even go out if they get the alert and hear the roads are flooded," said Sea Isle City Police Chief Thomas McQuillen.

Five master poles have flood sensors that alert dispatch and snap 15 photos of the flooding, which can go out to the public with an email or text flood alert.

The warning system arrives just in time for the Nor'easter season, and just days after a new study by the Army Corps of Engineers that found rising sea levels will continue to make back bay flooding worse at the shore.

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Among their suggestions: creating storm surge barriers that could cover entire inlets. That could cost billions and is controversial with environmentalists. In the meantime, the alert system cost $226,000 and could be duplicated in other towns.

"This system could be linked even further south or north on the barrier islands to create a warning system all the way up and down," said Cape May County Freeholder Jeff Pierson.

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