Mid-Atlantic
Wilmington, NC

Our View: How long can we keep shoveling sand against the tides?

This is the time of year when we start thinking about those spring, summer and fall trips to the beach. As we endure winter’s alternating personalities, we look ahead with a smile to days or weeks along the shore, enjoying ocean breezes, sand between our toes and cooling, salty water.

But for people who live their lives by the sea, this is a time for different concerns — like worrying about the quality of those beaches and how small towns can afford the big prices on beach maintenance. It’s also a time when most people who live by the sea are wondering, more and more, about how they can afford to stay.

The big dredge and heavy equipment have arrived in New Hanover County, where an $18 million beach renourishment project is about to begin. It’s a regular event in the towns of Carolina and Kure Beach, as it is in most of the East Coast’s communities with sandy beaches. Storms take a heavy toll. So do currents that run along the shoreline. It’s normal — barrier beaches naturally move and change configuration with tides, currents and storms. But when billions of dollars’ worth of real estate sits on those beaches, government works to protect them, periodically pumping sand off the ocean floor and onto eroding beaches.

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