Surf City grapples with how to replace sand washed away by Florence

Surf City grapples with how to replace sand washed away by Florence

SURF CITY, NC (WECT) - Leaders in Surf City are weighing options on how to replace the thousands of cubic yards of sand that was lost after Hurricane Florence swept through the area.

Hundreds of people flocked to Town Hall for Friday morning’s town council meeting where officials revealed that an estimated 1.8 million cubic yards of sand was washed away from Surf City’s coastline by the storm. Of that total, 1.3 million cubic yards was lost from the beach, while 470,000 cubic yards was stripped away from the dunes on the south end.

“I have been studying beach nourishment for 22 years. we have had property here for two decades and we lost property back in Bertha and Fran so this is important,” said Surf City Resident Jack Solak.

Town officials said Florence’s erosion impact was similar in scope to what was experienced during Hurricane Fran in 1996.

Contractors with TI Coastal LLC presented town council with some options on what to do about the severe erosion. The price tag for those options ranged from $18.7 to $87 million.

Surf City has $11.3 million set aside in a fund for beach restoration work.

Councilman Donald Helms made a motion to spend $5 million to fix dunes on the north and south end of the town. The board voted unanimously to pass the motion.

About two dozen residents registered to speak during Friday’s town council meeting including resident Beata Lornic.

“I own three oceanfront properties to enjoy and for rental, and those properties took a large hit, one was condemned, and we have negative berm left,” said Lornic.

She expressed concerns on getting a project started immediately as the state of the beach could affect the upcoming tourist season.

“For many of us that own property, tourist season begins March 1,” said Lornic. “We need to figure out what we can tell tourists, because if we don’t explain what is happening on the beach, they will see it and won’t come back.”

Some expressed their concerns about how long the project would take and wanted council members to try and partner with nearby coastal communities to help fund the shoreline restoration.

“Immediately we need to do some hauling in like today or tomorrow or next week,” said Solak. “We need to go ahead and build up a small dune to protect the rest of the sand from falling in and losing more homes.”

A possible tax rate hike to pay for the project was also a concern from some citizens who spoke at the meeting. No timetable was set on when the first dune replenishment project would begin.

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