Southeast
Madeline Gray / For WUNC

NC - Beach nourishment along Outer Banks will be sustainable for 'foreseeable future'

On a cool March afternoon, Janie Baldi stands on her 2nd floor porch and peaks over rooftops to gaze at the ocean disappearing into the horizon. She proudly shares that her house was recently remodeled, complete with new blue and white exterior paint.

On a cool March afternoon, Janie Baldi stands on her 2nd floor porch and peaks over rooftops to gaze at the ocean disappearing into the horizon. She proudly shares that her house was recently remodeled, complete with new blue and white exterior paint.

Baldi and her husband built their house in Buxton in 1987 and moved here permanently during the pandemic.

"We have two daughters who are now grown and gone," said Baldi. "But while they were younger, we would bring them down here for vacations. Sometimes we would spend Thanksgiving, Christmas [and] New Year's here."

Baldi’s home isn’t beachfront — it’s a few houses down from the shoreline. She says that gives her a little bit of protection when storms come.

"When we have overwash because of a hurricane or a nor'easter, we just watch the ocean flow right down [our street]," Baldi said

For even more protection, several towns along the Outer Banks are working on beach nourishment projects this summer, including the towns of Buxton, Duck and Nags Head.

Beach nourishment is the process of dredging up sand from out in the ocean, pumping it onto the beach, and spreading it out with heavy machinery. It's meant to address erosion, which is happening faster and more severely due to climate change.

Dare County officials say beach nourishment will continue to be a sustainable solution to erosion for the 'foreseeable future.' But it's unclear exactly how long that is.

"The only tool in North Carolina that's available to [mitigate erosion] is beach nourishment," said Dare County Manager Bobby Outten. "As long as there's a sand source... And as long as we have sufficient funds to get that sand on the beach, then we can continue to do this."

These projects are expected to become more expensive over time. Regardless, residents like Baldi say they will support these replenishment efforts.

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