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Beach erosion longstanding challenge for southeastern NC

READ MORE: Beach erosion longstanding challenge for southeastern NC
WILMINGTON -- Just in the past year we have reported on the problem of beach erosion right here in our area: at Kure Beach, Topsail Island, Ocean Isle and Oak Island. Erosion can be short- or long-term. In the short-term, erosion occurs with big storms, like noreasters or hurricanes. While the erosion may be widespread it's usually not a big concern since the dunes often recover over time. Long-term erosion, however, is much more serious because it can mean houses that were initially sitting on the beach could end up in the water. Erosion specialist Spencer Rogers said, "Erosion is a fact of life along most of North Carolina, and we'll have to live with it one way or another." If we look back in history, we get a better sense of proportion. Rogers said, "Over the past 50 or 60 years the average erosion rate in the state has been two or three feet per year along the oceanfront. And it's varied widely from place to place and time to time, but that's kind of the average were dealing with." Topsail inlet is an extreme example moving south at a rate of 90 feet per year. And topsail is looking at purchasing land because Topsail Island is gaining land while the inlet is eroding badly. The good news is that we do have alternatives to help control erosion, but the bad news is that these alternatives can also have negative consequences. Rogers said, "Historically, North Carolina has often used house movers as a solution for erosion control. Just pick up the house and move it somewhere else to a safer lot. That's done less lately in the last 10 years or so. More common used particularly in New Hanover County has been beach nourishment where it's not a cure for beach erosion, but it's a treatment to the illness. That it doesn't stop beach erosion but it puts enough sand in place that it takes time to wash that new sand away. And in the meantime, we have a beach and dune to use for recreation as well as to provide hurricane protection." Beach nourishment projects -- taking sand from the bottom of the ocean and putting it back on the beach -- took place in the '60s, at Carolina Beach and Wrightsville Beach. They helped manage long term erosion and provided hurricane protection. But what about the future? We still need to avoid building in locations where we know there is or will be high erosion and focus on more environmentally friendly areas. And with all that, Mother Nature can still be the final force in all of this. "One of the things that drives erosion is sea level rise. And we know from tide records that sea level has been rising at between six inches and a foot over the last century. So it's already one of the causes of our shoreline erosion. What we don't know is what climate change may do to the rate of sea level rise in the future," Rogers said. The bottom line is that erosion is a part of life here in southeastern North Carolina and the sooner we realize how to live with it well, the better off we'll be. In an attempt to help slow down the erosion, places like Kure Beach have used sandbags. This is only a temporary solution and as we see more development, we need to focus on the long term solution, which is to build a safe distance away from the beach. Just like beach erosion, storm water runoff is a major environmental concern here in southeastern North Carolina. We'll talk about that next week.

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Beach Erosion

I have spent a better part of my adult life studying beach erosion and patterns of geological shift and the one thing that I know for certain...There is nothing that can be done to prevent beach erosion. Beaches and inlets are constantly shifting. The inlet by Shell Island is very close to Wrightsville Beach, but over time, it will move back toward Figure 8 and that is nature. Human interference sometimes can delay the inevitable and storms can hasten the process, but it is going to happen. The question is why do taxpayers have to pay for this naturally occurring phenomenon? I don't ask taxpayers to move dangerously leaning trees from my yard or expect taxpayers to pay if a branch falls from high winds and damages my home or car. Both of those are nature and there are steps I can take but I can't stop it from happening. Homeowners that buy and build on a shifting beach and/or inlet should bear 100% of the brunt when the sand moves. Every real estate lawyer and every realtor knows it is going to happen and yet, when it does, they act surprised and ask the State for help. The lawmakers need to absolutely put a stop to this!!!!!!!

Beach erosion

I've lived at Carolina Beach for the majority of 35yrs and I've seen major development on our coastline & major beach erosion, also watched houses fall right into the ocean because Mother Nature will knock down whatever is in the way. With the continued over development on our shores & the up coming highrise development at Carolina Beach residents need to prepared to pay for future protection of these buildings because the owners will expect to be "taken care of" by higher tax dollars & increased insurance rates. The owners of ocean property truly believe they have the right to build what they want because they've paid so much for it and want to make a huge investment. It's time to rethink how we develop our oceanfront properties or future generations WILL pay millions to protect these overpriced properties.

Building Explosion....More Beach Erosion

Years ago lucky people constructed beach cottages, or in some cases, beach shacks for summer vacations and weekends. If they threw caution to the wind (and tides) and built too close to the shoreline, well, they didn't actually lose their home, or millions of dollars. My father was an engineer who thought oceanfront homeowners were mindless, to say the least, when they built trophy homes on the "shifting sands." Oceanfront homeowners should understand the risk they take when they decide to build on the shoreline, protect themselves best they can, and then not expect taxpayers (who are not likewise wealthy) to bail them out.

No choice...

You have stated good and valid points here. The only problem is that the taxpayers have no choice that their money may go to beach house rescue even though poor and unregulated choices were made to build there. Remember when the private Island "Figure Eight" was swatted by hurricane Fran? The taxpayers money was spent to clean the wealthy peoples mess up then, but the taxpayers can't go over the bridge and use the beaches there because it's PRIVATE. It may have something to do with a few politicians owning property there, ya thank???? Even now, without any major storm impact in the last several years, a few Einstein wanna-bees currently have Rich's Inlet licking at their lower levels. Would anyone like to venture a guess as to who will pay for the cleanup and removal when the sea finally takes them???

I don't believe that's true

The residents of Figure 8 were allowed to apply for federal loans, like any other home owner, but I believe that if you check, the cleanup on the island was not paid for by anyone but the owners and their insurance companies. The same was true in Porter's Neck and Landfall.

Figure Eight Island is private land

As such, no tax money would normally be allocated to rescue those houses on the North end. The Figure Eight Homeowners' Association should be responsible for their removal. I wonder if the sandbags that are in front of that one house received CAMA approval? I never heard or read anything about it, but "poof," they just showed up one day. BTW, the main erosion in that area started during Hurricane Ophelia, which was a piddly storm by any standrad, but for some strange reason scoured out about five-hundred yards of sand from the North end (bayside) of the island. I mapped the before and after with my GPS, and a few million cubic feet of sand moved. You're right - it has been moving ever since. Do you know where most of it is? A lot of it simple spread out Westward into Nixon Channel. You can see it at low tide. Most of it, however, is in the marsh West of the island and South of the channel. You used to be able to transit that marsh from Nixon Channel to the Figure Eight marina at low tide. Now, it's difficult to get through at high tide....in a shallow draft jon boat.

Taxpayers DID NOT pay to

Taxpayers DID NOT pay to clean up figure 8 Island losses!

beach erosion

sandbags are illegal in nc. have never seen how they got by with all that.. someone is looking the other way while their pockets fill up.. need a cat 5 . that will fix all the problems

Well, there you have it...

in a nutshell. Except, the developers try to cajole Mother Nature into NOT eroding the beaches so they can build further and further into the surf line.