By DONALD WITTKOWSKI
Bob Hoffman lent a hand after Monday’s major snowstorm by shoveling a path from the slush-covered street to the sidewalk on Asbury Avenue.
He pulled a snow shovel out of the back of his pickup truck and went to work Tuesday afternoon. No one asked him to do it. He simply wanted to make the slippery sidewalk a little safer for downtown shoppers.
“I cleared a path right here and another one over there,” Hoffman, 73, a resident of Laurel Springs, N.J., said while he heaved a shovelful of heavy snow out of the way.
Hoffman didn’t have much snow in his hometown in Camden County, but discovered a lot of it while visiting his sister, Betsy Feltman, in Ocean City. His act of kindness for the downtown shoppers was among a number of remarkable scenes that unfolded throughout Ocean City a day after the storm dumped 14 inches of snow on the beach town.
Ocean City had more snow than any other town in New Jersey, according to snowfall figures released by the National Weather Service.
Rain, wet snow, gusty winds and flooding combined to make the first winter storm of 2022 a memorable one.
Ocean City’s Public Work crews were called in on Sunday to prepare for the storm. They returned at 3 a.m. Monday and remained on duty non-stop to begin salting and then plowing the streets and alleys as the snow began to accumulate.
“I think our response to the storm was professional and efficient,” Mayor Jay Gillian said. “I’m proud of the dedication and performance of our entire Public Works team.”
As with all densely populated areas, removal of mounds of plowed snow from the streets was a challenge, city spokesman Doug Bergen said. As it has done in the past, the city began to transport plowed snow to municipal parking lots to get it out of the way.
“Ocean City has about 110 miles of roadway. With the city getting 14 inches of snow in about 10 hours, making primary, secondary and cross streets drivable by 8 a.m. (Tuesday) was a Herculean task,” Bergen said.
Heavy snow caused part of the roof to collapse at GG’s Diamond Cleaners on the 600 block of Asbury Avenue. The building was unoccupied at the time. No injuries were reported.
Two families in an adjacent second-story residence were temporarily displaced as construction officials assessed the structural integrity of the GG’s building, Bergen said. As a safety precaution for pedestrians, barriers and yellow police tape blocked access to the sidewalk in front of GG’s.
Residents in flood-prone neighborhoods had to contend with stormwater both Monday and Tuesday. Flooding ranged from minor to moderate.
“By the end of the storm on Monday, the winds had shifted offshore out of the northwest. That always helps floodwaters recede from the back bays,” Bergen said. “What had once been predicted as a water level of 6.7 feet MLW (mean low water) for Tuesday morning’s high tide was revised by the National Weather Service to a prediction of 6.2 feet MLW on Monday evening. That tide level came in at 5.86 feet a little after 9 a.m. on Tuesday.
With the transition from stormy to sunny skies Tuesday, residents left their homes for some shopping, sightseeing and even some snowman-making. Block after block, homeowners were digging out from the deep snow in a monumental cleanup.
Up on the Boardwalk, 15-year-old Rob Malfitano was busy rolling snow into a big ball to serve as the bottom third of a snowman. Robert Vasjuta noticed how much fun Rob was having and asked if he could help out.
“This is my first time ever building a snowman on the Boardwalk. I think it’s really fun doing it. How many times can you build a snowman on the Boardwalk?” said Rob, a freshman at Ocean City High School who had the day off from school because of the snow.
Vasjuta didn’t seem to mind the snow, even though he wasn’t wearing any gloves while making the snowman with his bare hands.
“I enjoy the snow,” he said. “There are a lot of things you can do with it. You can play in the snow, build a fortress, have snow fights or build a snowman.”
Janice and Mark Ross, of Marmora, strolled hand-in-hand on the snow-coated Boardwalk while marveling over the winter scenery. The married couple said they formerly lived in Scranton, Pa., and were used to big snowstorms.
“I think it’s awesome,” Janice exclaimed.
They also spent time on the beach. There, they discovered a layer of snow blanketing the sand.
“It’s very serene,” Mark said. “We were on the beach this morning and were amazed at seeing the water, snow and sand all in the same place.”
Snow also coated the wreaths, garland and red bows that were part of the Christmas decorations adorning the downtown shopping district on Asbury Avenue.
“We love it,” Ocean City resident Dan Cassidy said of the snow while walking downtown with his wife, Kathy.
The Cassidys ventured out on the windy and snowy beaches during the storm Monday. Once things had calmed down, they got out to do some grocery shopping Tuesday.
“It’s a chance to stay home for a day off and to do some relaxing,” Kathy said.