Nags Head workshop aims for plan of action against sea level rise

NAGS HEAD, N.C. (WNCT) – “We see sea level rise as a real reality, and we need to be planning for it,” says Robert Edwards, the mayor of Nags Head.

He was one of several town leaders who attended a two day workshop hosted by North Carolina Sea Grant. Experts explained the science behind sea level rise, but the group was after more than just educating the public.

“Local knowledge, that’s really what the important thing here is that the residents are a part of deciding what solutions to take to protect their town,” says  Lisa Schiavinato, the law policy and community development specialist at North Carolina Sea Grant.

A few dozen residents also went to town hall this morning to voice their concerns and come up with potential solutions. Topics covered included everything from beach erosion and shoreline management to water quality and property access issues. Town officials will develop a plan of action based on the workshop’s findings.

According to a state report, sea level is projected to rise anywhere from 5 to 10 inches along the Outer Banks by 2045. With tidal flooding and erosion already a problem, more water certainly won’t help things.

Longtime resident Dorie Fuller was happy to get an opportunity to voice her concerns.

“Very concerned about the sea level rising,” says Fuller. “Our group here has been talking more about shore management and beach nourishment and how that’s been so successful so far here in Nags Head.”

Many say Nags Head has fared well during recent storms after the largest locally funded beach nourishment program in the world. But other towns like Kitty Hawk continue to struggle with overwash, erosion, and flooding. It’s unclear exactly what impact sea level rise will have on the Outer Banks…but people in Nags Head are pushing for a proactive approach.

“Each year it’s grown tremendously and it’s become a wonderful place to live and raise a family,” says Fuller.

And everyone here hopes to keep it that way.

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