Surf City will not resume dune restoration until November

Many dunes on Surf City beaches are still damaged from Hurricane Florence. 7/25/19 (Photo: Matt Bennett/WWAY)

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) —  The town of Surf City will not resume rebuilding dunes until November when hurricane season is almost over. Now some residents are concerned for their homes.

After Hurricane Florence caused extensive damage to Surf City last September, Mayor Doug Medlin says the town has been having a relatively normal summer.

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“It took us a little while to get over Florence, but I’ll tell you what, once we got started back, it has done great,” Medlin said.

However, damage across the island is still apparent. The town started rebuilding damaged dunes in February, but had to stop in may because of sea turtle nesting season. Vacationer Missy Elliott was surprised to see how much the landscape had changed compared to last year.

“My Timehop showed me the picture from last year, and I was like, ‘oh wow, there was grass on the dunes, there was a whole boardwalk,'” Elliott said.

Mayor Medlin says because of sea turtle nesting season laws, the town is not allowed to resume work on the dunes until November.

“If we have a great big hurricane come in now, yes, it will be a devastation,” Medlin said.

He quipped that sea turtles get preference over everything.

“Naturally we’re worried about it,” Medlin said. “But what we’re planning on and I’m depending on your weathermen to do the same thing, we’re planning on all these storms just going by. Just like this last tropical depression did.”

However, with hurricane season in full swing, and more than three months before work on the dunes can resume, some are left vulnerable.

“I think the house is definitely in danger, and there’s a chance that this whole street could be washed out and this house will be oceanfront,” Elliott said.

According to the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality, no work can occur between May 1 and November 15 without prior approval from the Division of Coastal Management. We reached out to them to see if the town applied to start that work early, but have not yet heard back.