Officials keeping an eye on beach erosion after Maria

BEAUFORT, N.C. (WNCT)–Even though Maria didn’t directly hit our coast, there’s still a possibility she left it vulnerable to a future direct hit.

The Carteret Shore Protection Office is keeping a close eye on sand volume from the tops of the dunes to the sandbar.

Manager Greg Rudolph says our beaches are doing better than ever before.

“Back in the 1990s we had a series of hurricanes and the beaches were in really bad shape,” he said. “We did a lot of beach nourishment since then and there’s kind of been a surplus of sand out there so the dune growth has been amazing over the past 8 or so years.”

He says 13 million cubic yards of sand were deposited off our coast during renourishment projects in the last decade. About 7 million cubic yards of that sand remains, which is good, he says.

There is some concern that recent storms like Maria, Jose, and Irma have left the coast vulnerable even though they didn’t directly hit it.

“So far our beaches are doing great but if we do get more of a direct impact later it’s going to probably be a worse impact because we’ve been compromised the whole month of September,” Rudolph says.

Carteret County relies on a tax revenue base from its beaches. From the taxes people pay on their oceanfront properties to the money spent on tourism each year.

“We need to make sure we protect the shorelines, protect the properties so they will continue to pay taxes that help run the county,” Carol Lohr, Crystal Coast Tourism Authority director, said.

Over at Pine Knoll Shores, town manager Brian Kramer says the town’s beach received plenty of sand this summer.

“The beach supports the economy, it supports the tax base and it’s really why people want to live here,” he said.

The island has trigger levels, once the sand reaches a certain level it’s time for a beach renourishment.

The shore protection program surveys beaches just before hurricane season during the spring every year.

It will only resurvey after a major hurricane hits.

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