Sand losses assessed as beach widening resumes

By on September 6, 2011

Sand slurry was flowing Monday. (Voice)

As another major storm ramps up in the Atlantic, crews have moved quickly to resume widening the beach in Nags Head and meet a deadline to finish the job this year.

Pipeline displaced by Hurricane Irene has been repositioned and sand was flowing onto the beach north of the Nags Head Fishing Pier over the holiday weekend.

Barring another delay, Town Manager Cliff Ogburn said, Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Co. could finish by the end of September, about two weeks later than expected.

But if Tropical Storm Katia, which has become a major hurricane, passes close to the coast later this week, big swells could force the dredges to find safe harbor again. They were sent to Norfolk for Irene.

A preliminary assessment by project manager Coastal Science and Engineering showed that 1 million cubic yards of visible nourished beach was washed out by the storm. That represents about 25 percent of the beach widening project that started in May.

A Great Lakes dredge was just off the Nags Head Fishing Pier Monday. (Voice)

Data gathered over the weekend should show how much ended up in the near shore, where it was expected to migrate eventually, or past the bar, which would be a permanent loss.

“It appears the nourishment volume permanently lost will be well under 1.0 million cubic yards,” the assessment said.

Before the storm struck, almost 4 million cubic yards of the 4.6 million total had been pumped onto the beach. The Federal Emergency Management Agency can reimburse communities for new sand lost in a disaster. Nags Head approved a maintenance plan, which is required by FEMA, just days before Irene’s arrival.

Right now, the priority is pumping the initial project’s remaining 700,000 cubic yards, Ogburn said.

Crews surveying north of Nags Head pier. (Voice)

The assessment said that southeast and southwest winds pushed the sand north along the shoreline. None was sent down to the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, which stretches from the southern border of Nags Head.

No houses were undermined in the nourished portions of beach, it said.

“Even the condemned properties at Seagull Street made it through the storm without further damage,” the assessment said. “However, there was considerable erosion of the visible beach, particularly the nourished sections.”

Meanwhile, a preliminary survey showed that 432 properties were damaged in Nags Head. Most was considered minor, involving storage areas and ground-floor enclosures.

Two properties were destroyed, including the Stinson Ranch, an old cottage on stilts over the water on Soundside Road.

Total damage amounted to about $1.7 million.








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