Sunday, November 15, 2009

Delaware's storm-damaged coastline

Dan Shortridge in Delaware Online: The monster offspring of Tropical Storm Ida has taken a huge bite out of Delaware's Atlantic coastline, devouring much of the beaches, gnawing at the protective dunes and creating a huge challenge for the state and resort towns who are unsure if repairs can be done quickly enough for the summer tourist season.

As the waters slowly receded Saturday, the extent of the damage from the two-day storm became readily apparent, with its teeth marks clearly visible in the 5-foot jagged drop-off at the dunes at Rehoboth Beach. State and federal officials will begin a formal assessment of what remains of the fragile coastline this week. Yet questions remain about who would pay for any repair work, how much it would cost and whether it could be done before the impact of another powerful storm.

"It's too early to ask," said Tony Pratt, the state's shorelines and waterway administrator. "By the middle of [this] week, we'll have better knowledge as to what avenues are open to us to explore." State and local beach officials have credited the dunes with defending their towns' homes and boardwalks from the storm's wrath.

Taking an opposite view is Orrin H. Pilkey, emeritus professor in the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University and author of "The Corps and the Shore" and this year's "The Rising Sea," which he co-authored. Pilkey said it would be a huge error for Delaware to ignore science and not plan for the inevitable approach of climate change and rising seas. He pointed to the damaging Ash Wednesday storm of 1962, when the Army Corps of Engineers erected a dune along the shore in Ocean City, Md., and issued an advisory to restrict development inland of the protective barrier. But homes and hotels eventually moved oceanside, on top of and across the dune….

Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, pre-storm

No comments: