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Work Underway To Save Homes At North Topsail Beach

North Topsail Beach

Some homes at North Topsail Beach are in trouble.  Electricity, water and sewer have been disconnected at 20 structures due to erosion.  Details on how a project that starts next week could help slow the tide.

Living at the beach has its advantages, the ocean is just a short walk away, there’s the stunning sunsets, and studies have shown that it can even have positive effects on your health and wellbeing.  But when the waves wear away at the coastline, it can put homes and businesses in jeopardy.  That’s the scenario playing out at Topsail Beach, where 20 oceanfront structures at the north end of the island are in trouble.  Hurricanes and storms have caused severe erosion making homes vulnerable to the tide.  The most significant impact is occurring near the Topsail Reef Condominium complex. Town clerk and public information officer Carin Faulkner says a large sandbag placement project is set for next week to protect the homes.

Credit North Topsail Beach
North Topsail Beach after New River Inlet Realignment Project 2012

“The town board of alderman decided that they were going to try to do something immediate to try to save the properties there.  So they passed an assessment in which the town is going to pay 50% of the project and the property owners are going to pay the other 50% through an assessment.”

Earlier this week, power, sewer and water were disconnected at the properties, which are currently unoccupied vacation homes.   Construction on the sandbag project will begin Wednesday.  The contract was awarded to Carolina Marine Structures of Powell’s Point, NC.  Faulkner says workers will place a geotube on the shore to hold back the wave action. 

“They’re going to fill that up with sand so they have a wall and a barrier between the waves and then they’re going to start filling up smaller size bags and they’re going to line those up and stack them on top of each other.  And I believe we are authorized to go up to 12 feet high.”

The sandbag project should slow the progression of erosion, but it’s only a temporary fix.  The North Carolina Coastal Resources Commission will allow Topsail Beach to use the seawall for six years.  Faulkner says that should buy the town enough time to make progress on their shoreline protection plan.  Last January, phase one of the plan was completed.  It realigned the New River Inlet by placing sand on 1 ½ miles of beach. 

Credit North Topsail Beach
North Topsail Beach before New River Inlet Realignment Project 2012

“The realignment of the channel was supposed to provide shoaling to protect the very north end where that high erosion rate occurs, but it was not expected to be an immediate impact, as in it’s going to be a natural process, and it could take between two to six years to start protecting the very north end. 

She says an offshore hurricane, severe storms and higher-than-normal tides this year caused some of the beach to wash away.

“So right now, the realignment has not taken effect to protect the property so we have to take some action.”

Faulkner says they will wait and see if shoaling starts to naturally develop at the north end.  But in case it doesn’t work or it takes too long, the town is also exploring other options, such as building a terminal groin.  

Topsail Beach’s shoreline protection plan includes five phases.  Faulkner says they’ll jump ahead to the final phase in the next few weeks.

“Our dredging company, Norfolk Dredging, is currently working at Topsail Beach. And they’ll be heading up to North Topsail Beach as soon as they finish their job there and that’s going to nourish about three miles of the south end of our beach to the Surf City line.”

Credit North Topsail Beach
North Topsail Beach after New River Inlet Realignment Project 2012

The goal of the shoreline protection plan is to nourish Topsail Beach’s 11 miles of coast line.  To see before and after pictures from the phase one realignment project and an overview of the shoreline protection plan, go to the town of North Topsail Beach’s website, www.ntbnc.org.   

Jared Brumbaugh is the Assistant General Manager for Public Radio East. An Eastern North Carolina native, Jared began his professional public radio career at Public Radio East while he was a student at Craven Community College earning his degree in Electronics Engineering Technology. During his 15+ years at Public Radio East, he has served as an award-winning journalist, producer, and on-air host. When not at the station, Jared enjoys hiking, traveling, and honing his culinary skills.