Below excerpts are from a July 14th article published at The Yale School of the Environment. The full article is available here.
Rounding the corner near the village of Rodanthe, there is a stretch of highway known as the S-Curves because of its twisting loops and turns. It is, by almost any measure, one of the most vulnerable sections of roadway in North Carolina, if not the nation. Years ago, highway officials erected a massive dike here with 2,200 sandbags — each bag was 15 feet long, two feet tall, and five feet wide — and then buried the dike in even more sand in an effort to keep the ocean at bay and the highway, known as NC 12, open.
It didn’t work, or at least it didn’t work as hoped. The Atlantic Ocean continued to pummel the towering artificial dune, crashing over the top, tearing apart sandbags, and flooding the highway — closing the only access on and off of the lower Outer Banks for days and sometimes weeks.
Following each storm, the North Carolina Department of Transportation (DOT) sent in bulldozers and graders to rebuild the sand dike and patch the road, only to watch the next storm undo its work. “It’s like the Siege of Troy,” said local biologist Mike Bryant. “It just goes on and on.”…
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Below excerpts are from an August 12th article published in The New York Times Magazine. The full article is available here.
“The barrier islands today display ample evidence of their battle with human development: failing bulkheads bowing against the corrosive press of water; lumpy and cracked streets, the result of the earth’s constant settling beneath them; high tide bubbling from sidewalk seams; beaches wiped away by a single anonymous storm…
The enemy, of course, is the water. Early development on the islands was concentrated toward the oceanfront, but the static nature of infrastructure was in conflict with the shoreline’s need to breathe. Boardwalks, homes and roads and the jetties, sea walls and bulkheads constructed to protect them did little more than accelerate erosion…
“In many places on the barrier islands, nuisance flooding now accompanies practically every full-moon high tide, heavy downpour or strong shoreward wind. These events rarely show up in the news, but in their persistent submerging of lawns and roads for hours at a time, they represent the primary existential threat to the beating heart of the Jersey Shore…
“For the last five years, the Army corps has been conducting its own New Jersey back-bays study, as part of the agency’s long-term strategy for managing the risk of coastal flooding. It estimates that the state’s 950-square-mile back-bay areas and oceanfront will soon be sustaining $1.57 billion in annual damages over a 50-year period if no new flood-mitigation measures are implemented. One of the study’s visions for the future imagines a coast armored with concrete and steel. But the scale of that sort of work dwarfs the projects currently underway on the barrier islands: Storm-surge barriers alone would cost more than $16 billion…
“The study’s authors concede that ‘in some cases, just as ecosystems migrate and change functions, human systems may have to relocate in a responsible manner.'”
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Below excerpts are from a December 5th article co-published by ProPublica and the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. The full article is available here.
For decades, homeowners in Punalu‘u watched from large picture windows as locals sunned on the beach and dove for octopus amid the coral reefs of northeast Oahu.
But year after year, the ocean inched closer and closer to their wooden beach houses, and by 2006, it was threatening to claw them away.
Two homeowners asked the state for permission to erect mounds of sandbags along the beach for protection.
Hawaii’s Department of Land and Natural Resources agreed, with one key condition: The emergency measures would be temporary. Such shoreline structures can hasten beach erosion, and state officials were trying to ensure that didn’t happen. The homeowners had a few years to come up with long-term plans for their homes and remove the sandbags.
But as the deadlines approached, state officials granted them an extension. Then, another. The decisions set off a cascade of armoring along the coastline, as neighboring homeowners put up their own sandbags to guard against seasonal waves and rising seas.
Today, nearly 15 years later, the sandbags remain and the beach is largely gone. If members of the public want to reach the ocean, they must clamber over a makeshift seawall, covered by black and tan fabric and held together with rope, and past “No Trespassing” and “Danger” signs.
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