Dare County seeks $40M grant for Rodanthe beach nourishment

By on February 8, 2024

Under a pilot program, the National Park Service purchased these two threatened homes in Rodanthe. (NPS file photo)

Tucked away in the Feb. 5 Dare County Commissioners meeting—following the approval of $250,000 for a sand assessment study for Hatteras Island—was a comment from County Manager Bobby Outten about a grant that Barton Grover, Grants and Waterways Administrator for the county had just submitted.

“Barton is working on a grant application for the Rodanthe beach nourishment projects,” Outten told the commissioners. “If we get it, it’s a $40 million grant. It may allow us to do that [beach nourishment] project in Rodanthe.”

In an email to the Voice, Grover indicated that he submitted the grant application on Feb. 5, also estimating that the approval process would take 12 to 18 months.

In Rodanthe, where oceanfront homes have collapsed and where the Cape Hatteras National Seashore (CHNS) recently purchased and demolished two oceanfront homes, the county has convened community meetings about the impacts of beach erosion, with beach nourishment emerging as a major topic.

The new grant application has been filed with FEMA under the name Rodanthe Storm Damage Mitigation Project. The total cost of the project, Grover says, is almost $42 million and shared between the Dare County and the federal government–with the federal government picking almost all of the cost.

“If awarded, Dare County would be required to provide a 10% match ($4,189,000). Total federal share would be $37,701,000,” he explained.

The grant is part of a new federal program signed into law in 2022. The Community Disaster Resilience Zones Act “requires FEMA to utilize a natural hazard risk assessment index to identify census tracts which are most at risk from the effects of natural hazards and climate change,” according to the FEMA website. Rodanthe, and all of Hatteras Island, is one of 483 Community Disaster Resilience Zones that have been identified. Rodanthe is considered one of the most endangered zones in North Carolina, assessed in the top one percent of at-risk areas.

If approved, this would be the largest nourishment project undertaken on Hatteras Island.

“The project would include the placement of 3.8 million cubic yards along 12,000 ft of beach. (For reference, the recently completed Avon project was an estimated 1 million cubic yards and Buxton was approximately 1.2 million cubic yards). From Mirlo Beach to the KOA campground,” Grover noted.

Because the beach on Hatteras Island is part of Cape Hatteras National Seashore from the low tide mark to the mean high-water line, the Rodanthe beach is part of the Seashore and for any nourishment project to move forward, the National Park Service will have to approve it.

That hurdle already seems to have been crossed. In 2021, a Sediment Management Framework Final Environmental Assessment for CHNS concluded that the preferred alternative for the Rodanthe and Hatteras Island was to actively work with local government on nourishment projects.

Even if approved, and there are potentially up to 483 other at risk areas vying for the grant funding, it will be some time before a nourishment project can begin at Rodanthe.

“There would be initial components of the project such as identifying sand sources and engineering that would need to be performed. Therefore, construction would likely not begin until 2027,” Grover wrote.

The county, Outten told the Voice, has been trying for some time to find a way to pay for beach nourishment in Rodanthe.

“Everybody’s been trying to find ways to fund the project, and this is an opportunity that came up and we’re taking advantage of it,” he said, while acknowledging that there will be completion for the FEMA grant money.

“Whether we get it or not remains to be seen, but it’s an opportunity at least and if it works, we’ll have the ability to do a project in Rodanthe and add that to our nourished beaches” Outten added. “It’s a good opportunity for us. We just hope we get it.”

 



Comments

  • Steven

    Uh oh, gunna mess up our sandbars..

    Thursday, Feb 8 @ 7:26 pm
  • Greg

    Placing sand in this area will most likely not work. This stretch of beach is subject to strong currents and waves. Nourishment has been applied previously and it did not last for long. It will be far cheaper to buy the oceanfront properties, move the houses and let overwash just flow across to the sound.

    Friday, Feb 9 @ 8:00 am
  • jackie harris

    Is there anyway that the Dare Dredge could just dump it’s loads off shore in the worst area’s in the mean time that could slow the erosion down some??

    Friday, Feb 9 @ 8:40 am
  • mom

    why not put the sand from oregon inlet dredging on the beaches starting at pea island?

    Friday, Feb 9 @ 8:57 am
  • Daniel Kerlakian

    This is great to hear! Nourishing the federally owned and managed beach with 90% federal money makes perfect sense. Rodanthe needs this. Great job Dare County leaders for continuing to push this effort forward.

    Friday, Feb 9 @ 9:06 am
  • Rick Shaftan

    I am totally against any of my tax dollars going to bail out investors with beachfront real estate.

    If this money should go to anything it’s to buy out threatened houses to demolish them, but not to help the property owners, to clear out houses before they fall into the ocean. And I’m even skeptical taxpayers should pay for that bailout.

    What’s needed is elevating 12 in Pea Island over areas where overwash is a problem. But the old 12 stub North of the Traffic Circle is no longer 12, and part of the deal to build the bridge was not paying for sand in Mirlo any longer.

    Friday, Feb 9 @ 10:11 am
  • Bev

    Barrier island
    Barrier islands are a coastal landform—a type of dune system and sand island—where an area of sand has been formed by wave and tidal action parallel to the mainland coast. They usually occur in chains, consisting of anything from a few islands to more than a dozen. Wikipedia
    What is a barrier island? – NOAA’s National Ocean Service
    A barrier island is a deposit of sand parallel to the coast that moves, erodes, and grows with the wind and waves. Learn how barrier islands form, where they are found, and why they are important for coastal resilience and wildlife.
    Barrier island Definition & Meaning – Merriam-Webster
    : a long broad sandy island lying parallel to a shore that is built up by the action of waves, currents, and winds and that protects the shore from the effects of the ocean
    In other words…..EROSION WILL CONTINUE. IT’S NATURE VS HOUSE BUILDING. WHO DO YOU THINK WILL WIN?

    Friday, Feb 9 @ 12:22 pm
  • surf123

    @Rick…they are not your tax dollars, in fact no matter how much tax you paid the sum total is the equivalent of a grain of sound on the eastern seaboard. While I am not for saving homes from falling into the ocean by adding sand, I am for removing the houses and then nourishing the beach for all to enjoy and to maintain a decent buffer between the ocean and Route 12. A reasonable accommodation for removing a condemned house is the max value ($250K) of a FEMA flood insurance policy. Throw in the cost of the removal of the house to get it out done before it falls in. Some might say why give them anything? The reason is they are going to get the $250K if it falls in and it will. By avoiding that event the removal will be clean and not a complete mess to cleanup as it will be if it falls.

    Friday, Feb 9 @ 10:13 pm
  • Currituck

    My Grandfather, God rest his soul, with a 6th grade education, would tell you that if want or need a beach that you and you alone should pay for it.

    Sell your home, move your home but why should anyone else foot the bill?

    Currituck.

    Sunday, Feb 11 @ 3:44 pm
  • Sean Mulligan

    At least half the sand they put in Southern Shores is gone and we are not through the Spring storms yet. One summer so far of no sand bars for surfing ,no decent fishing holes and no sand fleas.The only thing dumber than putting sand on the beach in Southern Shores is putting sand in Rhodanthe.

    Tuesday, Feb 13 @ 7:20 am