Shrinking Flagler Beach

USA - At a growing list of beaches, visitors are asking, where's the sand?

FLAGLER BEACH, Fla. (CBS) —At a growing list of beaches, visitors are asking, where's the sand? Coastal communities around the country are concerned about the rate of beach erosion on their shores. Some worry that roads, businesses, and even homes could wash away with little time to prepare, CBS News reports.

William Whitson is City Manager of Flagler Beach, on Florida’s Atlantic coast. “This dune just a few weeks ago was out this far and now it's eroded back and the vegetation is dying,” he says.

Erosion along that stretch of the shoreline has picked up and it isn't stopping. Whitson says he's put out calls for help to truck in the more than 1.3 million cubic yards of sand needed to restore parts of the beach that have washed away.

What’s happening in Flagler is not an anomaly. Communities up and down the U.S. coasts are watching their beaches disappear, from New Jersey, to Hawaii, to North Carolina's Outer Banks.

Sam Brody, professor in the Department of Marine and Coastal Environmental Science at Texas A&M University, says he sees chronic erosion around the country. "I like to point out that there is not one variable that's causing the erosion problem," he says.

Brody's research shows climate change is one factor but so is development so close to the water and construction on barrier islands that disrupts the sturdy sand needed to protect the mainland.

"The synergy between the two is what worries me over the next couple of decades," he says.

While residents and visitors are being asked to stay off the dunes on Flagler Beach to preserve what’s left, Whitson says the community needs to identify long-term solutions. “We have city facilities that are here and that have been here for 100 years, and we want to keep it that way.”

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