Tropical Storm Hanna blew through our area, and now Ocean Isle residents are picking up the pieces. With the beach moving further and further into town with each passing storm, residents and officials are looking for a new way to help prevent beach erosion. Residents in Ocean Isle Beach met at town hall Tuesday. Many of them concerned about the damage Tropical Storm Hanna left behind. Sand lines Third Street, siding hangs from the houses, and utility crews continue to work beneath the sand, but Mayor Debbie Smith says erosion problems existed long before Hanna. “We have had chronic problems on that end of the beach with erosion concerns. We've been diligently working on alternative protection measures down there for the last several years,” said Smith. Residents say there is a simple answer. “The solution is a beach groin. We've tried real, real hard with the State of North Carolina to get them to allow us to put what we call or they call a harden structure,” said Bill Browning a Ocean Isle Beach resident. The terminal groin would cause some sand to collect at its base, while still allowing a natural tidal flow. It should replenish the waterfront at Third Street, keeping it from washing away like First and Second streets. There is only one problem - the structures are illegal in North Carolina. “If we can persuade the state to change their laws and if we could construct a terminal groin down there, we believe that would alleviate the need for most of the sand bags and provide us the protection we need to save the whole east end of Ocean Isle Beach,” said Debbie Smith. Residents say it needs to happen sooner than later. “Eventually it's going to go everywhere. You have to stop it somewhere, unless you're willing to give up the entire infrastructure along the east coast,” stated Ocean Isle Beach resident Michael Roberts. Overall, the residents we spoke within Ocean Isle Beach were in support of the structure. We even spoke to one woman who has a house a few blocks away from the shore who said she didn't think all tax payers should pay for the cost of the structure. But then she added if I lived on Third Street it would definitely be worth it. The state senate overwhelmingly passed a bill to change the law on hardened structures to allow terminal groins, but it was never brought to vote in the House of Representatives. Mayor Smith says Ocean Isle Beach will not give up.
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