Surf City calls for Christmas trees to restore sand dunes, faces further delays in FEMA funding

Trees placed in areas where dunes were washed out collect sand over time to build up a natural dune. Meanwhile, approval for FEMA funding expected to drag on for months. Meanwhile, 106 days after Florence struck the state’s southeastern coast, town officials are still waiting for approval for beach recovery funding at the federal level.

SURF CITY — As the wait for FEMA funding drags on, town officials are calling for discarded Christmas trees to help restore its sand dunes washed out by Hurricane Florence.

According to Surf City Parks and Recreation Director Chad Merritt, an estimated 350,000 cubic yards of sand are needed to restore the dunes along the town’s 6-mile stretch of beaches “to the condition they were in before Hurricane Florence,” at an estimated cost of $14 million.

“A lot of beach communities do this, and it’s not the first time we’ve done it,” Merritt said. “It’s very effective.”

The trees are used to catch the sand as it blows across the dunes, Merritt said. Over time, mounds form around each tree while sand is caught between mounds, building up a natural dune. He compared the process to sand build-up that occurs around the structural pillars of a pier.

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