Carteret County Shore Protection Office

North Carolina: FEMA steps up gives towns $18M for sand

EMERALD ISLE — Carteret County’s plan for a major Bogue Banks beach nourishment project to begin in November was bolstered financially Friday when the Federal Emergency Management Agency announced it approved $18 million in reimbursement money for the cost of replacing sand lost during Hurricane Florence last September.

In a news release, FEMA stated, “The funds reimburse nourishing sand and replacing plants at beaches located in the towns of Indian Beach and Pine Knoll Shores following damage from Hurricane Florence’s storm surge.

“The towns will restore beaches with nearly 830,000 cubic yards of sand and more than 168,000 square yards of plants,” the release added. “The sand equals more than eight times the amount of concrete in Bank of America Stadium (the Carolina Panthers’ home in Charlotte) and the volume of plants covers nearly 35 acres.”

FEMA’s Public Assistance Program is cost-shared, with the federal government covering 75% of eligible costs while the state picks up the remaining 25%.

Of the $18 million, FEMA will pay nearly $14 million and the state will kick in more than $4.6 million, according to the release.

Greg Rudolph, manager of the Carteret County Shore Protection Office, said Friday he was “tickled pink” by the FEMA announcement, which will make it much easier to afford the planned November project, which involves about 9.5 miles of beach and about 1.86 million cubic yards of sand, including 439,500 cubic yards for western Atlantic Beach, 956,000 cubic yards for Pine Knoll Shores, 116,600 cubic yards for Salter Path and 345,103 cubic yards for Emerald Isle.

Pine Knoll Shores is to receive about $10 million from FEMA, he said, and Salter Path/Indian Beach is to get about $7.7 million.

Still to come, Mr. Rudolph noted, is potentially as much as $43 million in FEMA and state money to reimburse the cost of sand lost in Emerald Isle during Florence.

“Because Emerald Isle’s request is more than $25 million, it got kicked into a secondary review,” he said. “We should know about that within about a month.”

The county went out for bids on the November project in late August and held a bid opening earlier this month. Only two bids were received, however, and three are required before they can be opened. Mr. Rudolph said Friday he hopes the two bidders, Weeks Marine of New Jersey and Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Co. of Illinois, will both resubmit bids.

The delay shouldn’t affect the timing of the project, Mr. Rudolph added, because federal rules to protect sea turtles, especially during their nesting and hatching season, prohibit the work until Saturday, Nov. 16.

The county is coordinating the project in a similar fashion to the last nourishment project, completed this spring in eastern Emerald Isle, all of Indian Beach and almost all of Salter Path, by Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Co.

Like the spring project, this time around there will be a composite unit rate – the same price for each cubic yard across all sections of the project – and each town will have its own individual contract with the dredging company.

The project is to be paid for with a combination of town, county and state funds. The towns will pay based on their shares of the total amount of sand received.

The county’s share of the cost would come from the beach nourishment fund, which gets half the proceeds of the county’s occupancy tax. As of Friday, Mr. Rudolph said, that fund stands at about $12 million, so the FEMA money should provide a cushion as efforts move forward.

The county also expects to receive $15.3 million of the $18 million the state set aside last year to help local governments with beach nourishment projects after Hurricane Florence hit in September 2018.

The project completed on Bogue Banks this spring cost about $20.1 million. That one involved 5.2 miles of beach and resulted in about 975,000 cubic yards of sand being dredged up offshore of Atlantic Beach and placed on the strand.

Contact Brad Rich at 252-864-1532; email Brad@thenewstimes.com; or follow on Twitter @brichccnt.

See Carolinacoastonline article . . .