|East Seagull Drive, South Nags Head, North Carolina|
The cottages were originally built on piles because in this environment, occasional flooding is inevitable. But as you can see in the photograph above, the beach has eroded so severely, the original piles were undermined. To keep the houses from collapsing, extension piles were added below the original ones. The bags are geotubes filled with sand to protect the houses. North Carolina law only allows such bags when a house is threatened. Also, North Carolina no longer allows any hard structures like rock seawalls to be erected as shore protection devices. I wish other states would follow this example.
|Exposed septic tanks, South Nags Head, North Carolina|
Notice that even though only five years have passed since the disaster of Hurricane Katrina, we still are politically too cowardly to ask serious questions about whether people should live in hazardous locations, and whether municipalities have a responsibility to provide protection and services to residents of these hazardous areas. Should developers be restricted by means of setback lines? Why don't building codes require highly robust construction, thereby thwarting the quick buck artists who build shoddy homes and move on after selling to naive buyers? Should the buyer beware? These are all troubling questions.
The scene above shows swells from Hurricane Danielle on August 29, 2010, taken from the U.S Army Corps of Engineers' Field Research Facility (FRF) pier at Duck, NC. They are about 9-10 second period and approaching the coast at an unusually steep angle. The FRF has an excellent web page with live cameras, wave statistics, and other oceanographic data: