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Dare County officials say there is no available funding for beach nourishment in area where homes collapsed

One of the homes on Ocean Drive in Rodanthe that collapsed last February.
(Photo: National Park Service)
One of the homes on Ocean Drive in Rodanthe that collapsed last February.

People who live on a stretch of North Carolina's Outer Banks where houses fell into the ocean last year want a beach replenishment project to protect additional homes and prevent flooding, but at a public meeting in Rodanthe, Dare County officials said there's no way to pay for it.

For years, the state Department of Transportation kept the Atlantic Ocean at bay on Hatteras island by pumping sand and rebuilding dunes along frequently eroded Highway 12. But with the opening of the Rodanthe Bridge last year, the beach road has been abandoned, says Dare County manager Bobby Outten.

“Until the bridge was done, DOT maintained protection of the road there. And by protecting the road, they protected the other ocean front. And so, we put the money in places where DOT wouldn't protect and that were in danger.”

Dare County's beach renourishment fund has only 6 million dollars left.

Rising project costs are part of the problem. But so is climate change, which is speeding erosion.

Outten says the tourism tax revenues that feed the fund will take 60 years to raise the $30 million or more needed for Rodanthe. Federal funds may not be an option, either.

Outten warned that competition is heavy for federal money and it likely would go first to protect public infrastructure, not oceanfront properties.