North Wildwood’s Emergency Preparedness website

102, 2024

Let’s talk about flooding . . .

People who have resided in North Wildwood for their entire lives generally know what to expect when a Coastal Flood Advisory is issued and how to protect their vehicles and property.   In this post, we will cover flooding, both tidal and from the rain.   To understand why we flood we first have to cover some basic facts about our location.  North Wildwood is built on a barrier island; as an island, some areas are higher than others.    In North Wildwood the elevation of the ground surface heading west starts at sea level at the beach to a higher area on Surf and Atlantic Avenues and then the elevation goes downward back to sea level at the back bay.  There is another high area in the north end around the Beach Colony area.    When looking down a street the elevation change is hardly noticeable but based on some of the water levels on Delaware Avenue the rise is more than 3 feet.   A good illustration of the elevation difference is new construction.   All new construction has to be at 10 plus one feet above the base flood elevation.     This elevation is figured using the Datum NAVD88 which is different from the Datum MLLW used for tides so don’t confuse this elevation with the tide heights we post.    Nonetheless, in new homes on Delaware Avenue, the first floors are over four feet above ground; in the same new homes on Surf Avenue, the first floor can be one foot above ground.  To learn how to figure the tide height compared to your home’s first floor height we created a document explaining it.  It’s available in the links on the left-hand side if you are reading this online,  if you are reading this as an email click HERE to download the document.

Flooding from Rain –   In 2023 flooding from rain caused the city to send a Code Red  Message 30 times.   Why does rain cause flooding?  The main reason is that the rain comes down faster than the water can drain off or be absorbed into the ground.  When it rains continuously the ground becomes saturated and the rain has nowhere to go but down your driveway to the gutter in front of your house.    The water in the gutter using gravity travels to the lowest point and in most cases is Westward until it reaches a cross-street.   At the cross-street, the water goes down the storm drain under the roadway and up to the storm drain on the west side of the cross-street.   This is called the “bubbler system” where the water that goes down the storm drain comes up the other side and will try to rise to the height of the water on the east side.   As the west side is lower than the east side the water runs down the gutter westward until it reaches the next cross-street and the process happens over again until the water reaches the last storm drain and instead of coming up the next storm drain the water drains out a back bay outfall pipe.   On the end of the outfall pipe is a flapper valve also known as a duckbill valve.  This valve is a one-way valve allowing water to exit out but not come in.   This is why rain runoff drains slower during high tide as the tidewater pushes against the flapper keeping it closed or at least a reduced flow.     We have had situations where after a rain storm stopped an hour earlier there was flooding on the west side caused by rain runoff that continued to Delaware Avenue and was not able to exit the outfall pipes due to high tide.  We sometimes get flooding from rain on the East side of New Jersey Avenue after heavy rainfall, this is caused when the amount of water trying to travel through the storm drain exceeds the volume that can be pushed through the storm drain by gravity.

Tidal Flooding –  Twice a month during the full moon and new moon (14 days apart) we get the highest tides.   Generally, none of the full moon or new moon tides will cause flooding on its own.  However, when we get persistent Northeast winds, that hold the tide back, which will cause a compounding of tides, where the tide doesn’t go all the way down and the next tide rises on top it even higher we can get minor tidal flooding.  When it’s combined with a coastal storm with winds and rain we get even higher tides.  From our experience when the tide reached 6.2 feet above MLLW (Mean Low Low Water) we started to see water around the storm drains on Delaware Avenue, sometimes on North Delaware, and even some storm drains on New York Around 3rd Avenue.  It is not always the same every time the tide reaches a certain height as the winds are different in speed and direction and there have been occasions when debris gets stuck in an outfall pipe flapper valve or the flapper valve is damaged which will allow water to come in.  When the National Weather Service issues a Coastal Flood Advisory it means the tides could be anywhere from 6.0 to 6.9 feet (Minor Flooding).  For Moderate and Major tidal flooding they will issue first a Watch and then a Warning.   The Coastal Flood Advisories will have the “Departure from Normal” for Cape May and Ocean City which will show how many feet the prevailing weather will cause the tide to reach above the predicted tide that is posted annually.   They do not post a departure from normal for every town in the county so to get an idea of what we can expect we do the following – Check the departure from normal for Cape May and Ocean City.   As we are somewhere in the middle we look to see whether Ocean City is trending higher or lower than Cape May.   Most times Ocean City is lower than Cape May so we then take the Departure from Normal for Cape May and add it to the predicted tide for our area.    Not always accurate but it gives us an idea of what to expect so we can be prepared.

Flood warnings – The first notice of possible tidal flooding comes from the National Weather Service in the form of a Coastal Flood Advisory.   Many times we will give advance notice on our Facebook Page.  If we have a Coastal Flood Warning (Moderate or Major) we will send a specific Code Red Message to alert residents of the upcoming tides.  When the  North Wildwood Police Department observes water in the gutters exceeding the curb height (six inches) in two locations in different areas of town (not in the same block) they will send a Code Red Message for either Street Flooding from the Rain or Tidal Flooding.  On some occasions when the town is crowded and many people may not get the Code Red Messages on their phones the Flood Warning Siren is sounded.  Also sometimes due to heavy rain at high tide a message for tidal flooding is sent when it should have been a message for Flooding from Rain.    To educate the public on our Facebook Page after we send a Code Red Message for flooding, we post either the rainfall amount or tide height so that residents can familiarize themselves with what to expect when they hear a prediction of a certain amount of rain or predicted tide heights.   North Wildwood has a Tide Gauge and Weather Station that can be viewed by clicking on a link located in the left-hand column of this website.  There are also other helpful weather links on this page.   If you are reading this as an email the website is HTTP:/


2510, 2023

Can one prepare for everything?

Can one prepare for everything? This is a question that many ask.   The answer is both yes and no – no because there are too many variables in what the future may bring, but the answer is yes if you look at events differently.  If you prepare by looking at the components rather than focusing on the event itself you can be prepared for a multitude of different events.  The components are the common needs that will be present at all events.   We can identify them when we make our plan or checklist.  You will find the differences between events will generally fall on external or environmental issues  – the prevailing weather conditions.  Common to most events, such as an ice storm, electric outage, flooding, or other events you will have one of two options, that is to stay or leave, also known as, Shelter in Place or Evacuation.   First, look at sheltering in place which is basically staying at home as long as your house is habitable.  The main component of sheltering-in-place preparedness centers on your food and water supplies and your house being habitable.   Habitable also means that your house is not damaged by the event and you have a heat source if it is cold out and electricity or some other power source such as a generator or battery power supply.  If your house is not habitable then your option is to evacuate. The best way to evacuate is to go to a relative or friend’s home that is in a safe location.  The last resort is to go to a public shelter.  When you run the numbers there is no way that any town can provide shelter for every person that resides in it.   Probably a realistic number that our shelters can handle is somewhere between 5 and 10 percent of the full-time population.   Once you identified the core components and have determined what you need to be prepared then focus on the differences between events, which we have already identified as external or environmental issues.   You prepare for these by purchasing everyday items that have multiple uses.   For example, purchase a raincoat that is large enough to wear over a jacket or sweater so you can use it in both warm and cold weather.    Purchase hip boots to wear in flooding conditions and for your fishing trip,  Also get them large enough to wear heavy socks in the winter.   Most individuals and families will have most of what they need on hand to start with.   Probably the only thing that most will need is to add several days of extra non-perishable food supplies to their pantry.   Making a plan is simple when you consider we make plans all the time.   Most of the plans are in our minds as we think over what we need to do before we do something, other times we make checklists or as many do cross off lists when we travel or go grocery shopping,  whether it be what clothes to pack, what route to take, or what to purchase.   We like checklists, whether it be a Do then Check off the list or Check and then Do the action type of List, either way, you get the same result – that is you are prepared for what you intend on doing.   To learn more about the different things needed be prepared check out the preparedness links by clicking on the  “Be Prepared” link at the top of the page and on the right-hand column.

709, 2023

September is National Preparedness Month

September is designated as “National Preparedness Month”.  If you followed our information about Preparedness on this webpage and on our Facebook Page you might already be prepared so we won’t go into much detail but cover the key points in Preparedness.

  1. The first thing we should do is a realistic risk assessment – sounds difficult but it really isn’t.    We are primarily dealing with weather-related issues so focus on that area, remembering that what you prepare to do for severe weather can be used for non-weather events.   We start by listing weather events by frequency and severity.   The ones that are probably most important are those weather events that occur more frequently and are more severe as what you prepare for them can be used in less severe circumstances.
  2. Now knowing what to prepare for follow the “be prepared” links on this page and learn what you need to do.   In addition to preparing for the specific weather event remember to look at the options that may be necessary such as evacuation or sheltering in place.   The plan can be as in-depth as you want or something as simple as a checklist.   With the intent to use your plan for different events probably a checklist format would work the best.
  3. Put your plan in place, that is look at all aspects of your plan and ensure you have everything you need.  For those items that you have to purchase make a list and fit these items into your budget and get them when you can.  Whether it is to build an emergency food stock or purchase boots for high water.  When you plan your purchases try to get items that have multiple uses, such as insulated high-water boots that can be used in snow and water and foods that you use regularly so you can rotate your supplies.
  4. Drill your plan – If you are single, a couple, or a family make sure all involved are aware of the plan and know what it contains.   The drill could be something as simple as going down the list and checking the items mentioned in the plan or actually carrying out what the plan calls for.
  5. Lastly,  Now that you have a workable plan and you are ready for the next storm you need adequate notice to implement the plan.   You have to make it a habit to check the current weather and future weather forecasts on a regular basis.   If you connect this to something you do every day, such as checking your email or social media accounts, it will be a habit in no time.   If you use your smartphone get an app that provides you with the latest weather and alerts.   The difference between having several hours to a day’s notice to get ready versus getting notice and having to do something immediately greatly increases one survivability in an emergency.


As we are already a month into  the new hurricane season and our first tropical storm has been named it is time to check our emergency plans and preparation.   We urge everyone to visit the links on the left hand side of this page.   They are links listed under BE PREPARED.    Preparation is not hard and while most  preparation needs will be the same for everyone each person will have to come up with his or her own plan.    By visiting the suggested websites and tailoring the information to your specific situation you can check your plans and ultimately will be better prepared. 

Also today due to the many requests to be added to the flood notification list we have expanded the flood notification to all residents west of New York Avenue from Spruce to 26th Avenues.     Phones in these areas will be called and a recorded message will played.   There are two messages that can be sent one known as the initial call sent when it appears that flooding will take place and one sent when the siren has been sounded.     These phone calls are sent via the CODE RED Community Alert System.  Read below to how to add your cell or other phone numbers.    REMEMBER this system is used city wide for other notifications so if you are not in the flood prone area you still should visit the CODE RED website and add your alternate phone numbers. 

Currently the Code Red Community Alert System will dial every Verizon and Comcast Phone in North Wildwood.   However with many people relying on Cellular phones the system will enable you to add phones to your address.   Remember this system is based on North Wildwood addresses so when you sign up you need to attach your out of town phone to your North Wildwood address.    Being addressed based the city will be using the system to alert those in flood prone areas of flood warnings, those on the snow emergency routes to move their cars and on occasion when there is a natural gas leak or police emergency a circular area around the incident will be notified.   Those of you visiting this page can follow this link to get a head start on signing up your “other” phones (Click on the CODE RED LOGO)


On the Code Red website you will be asked if you want to add your email address or receive text messages.   We have the ability to duplicate the contents of the voice message into an email and truncated text message.    As this will only be used in an emergency why not add all your contact preferences and methods so you can keep informed.    Also those with “smart” phones will have the capability to download the Code Red App. 

At the  North Wildwood Office of Emergency Management we feel our central job is to keep communications when the normal systems are failing.   Therefore we don’t put one form of communication above another.   At times some may seem simplistic in these times of technology however when normal systems fail we will fall back on them.   That  is why we depend on a fire siren,  AM radio and telephone as basic methods of notification.   We will be using North Wildwood’s AM1640 as the method of communication that can put the most information out.   Please get your self a good AM radio.   Remember when there are no emergencies AM 1640 broadcasts special event information – ever wondered what time the free concert starts and who is playing? it is on AM 1640;  want to know what the start and end times of the festival in the entertainment district?  it’s on AM 1640 as well as the upcoming events for the next several weeks.