North Carolina beaches ‘slowly self-healing’ following Florence damages

“People want things back to normal sooner rather than later.”

The weather is not quite swimsuit-ready yet, but area beaches are warming up ahead of tourist season.

After rising tides and storm surge washed away nearly 2.44 million cubic yards of sand on North Topsail Beach during Hurricane Florence six months ago, the town completed a berm push to supplement the damaged dunes and is looking at other options to rebuild the natural barriers on the beach.

Laura Oxley, town clerk for NTB, said they are waiting for other projects so a more sustainable solution can be applied to the dunes.

“We know that’s not the long-term solution,” Oxley said of the berm push.

The ultimate goal is a dune. After a significant loss of sand, there is only so much that can be pushed, Oxley added.

Emerald Isle lost about $40 million worth of sand, and is also working to replace it before tourist season starts. According to Interim Town Manager Randy Martin, a $20 million beach project to bring more sand in is underway now and expected to be finished before April 30. It will add one million cubic yards of sand to the current beach.

“We’re excited to get that underway,” Martin said.

Martin said the project will use two dredges to pump in sand to replace a good deal of what was lost during Florence.

Beach access points that sustained damages, according to the Emerald Isle website, have been addressed and repaired as much as possible. In some places, the ease of access is limited until the sand is fully replenished, stated the website.

As tourism season approaches, Martin said the beach will be ready but there will be a few projects, like some of the badly damaged beach access points, that will not be ready until the next season.

“Access will be available, it just might not be as accessible,” Martin said.

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