July 9, 2008

OIB’s East End Tussling With Mother Nature

By Steve Jones, The Sun News, Myrtle Beach, S.C.

Jul. 9--Ocean Isle Beach is going to pay an additional $6,250 in its ongoing battle with Mother Nature at the east end.

The money will go to dig old sandbags and chunks of asphalt from the surf near Shallotte Boulevard in preparation for new sandbags that will complete a solid line from the road to the farthest house on the east end.

The old sandbags are all that remain of a line put up just a couple of years ago.

The town paid to put sand on top and in front of the old line of sandbags last year, but it was washed away within months.

The contractor digging out the old sandbags has told town officials he will dig as much as he can get out.

But he can't promise that if the tide is low enough and erosion severe enough that more won't pop out eventually.

Removal of the old sandbags is required before a new line can be built.

East end residents are investing hundreds of thousands of dollars for the new line of sandbags they hope will last longer than those about to be fished from the surf.

The new sandbag wall angles toward the island, a configuration residents and town officials hope can better withstand Mother Nature's incessant drive to alter the landscape.

Mayor Debbie Smith said the east end erosion seems to have worsened in the last month. Normally, oceanside residents see the winter and powerful northeasterly storms as being the time when the beach erodes. Normally, the east end rebuilds at least somewhat during the summer.

But Smith said that's not what's happening now.

She said that at times this summer, the remainder of a rock abutment the Department of Transportation put in years ago to protect First Street can be seen through the waves.

First Street and its row of homes are a distant memory now on the east end.

Second Street and its cottages have now disappeared as well, and the homes battling for survival are on the ocean side of Third Street.

The town is backing a bill in the state legislature that would allow for a trial terminal groin to be built somewhere along the N.C. coast.

The groin would be a permanent structure in the water that parallels a nearby inlet.

Backers say it would be designed to allow some sand to pass through to adjoining beaches while at the same time capturing the sand now escaping from places adjoining inlets such as the east end.

Those who oppose the groins say that regardless of what humans do, Mother Nature will eventually win the fight and take whatever part of the island she wants.

Given free rein, they say, barrier islands such as Ocean Isle Beach will, over time, undulate back and forth.

They advocate a long-term plan to pull development significantly back from the ocean to allow natural forces to work.

Contact STEVE JONES at 910-754-9855.


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