Ocean Isle Beach Renourishment

The east end…..

….of Ocean Isle Beach has been under an onslaught shoreline erosion and destruction for years. As you can see from the photo below, there is at least 1/4 mile of 2 streets at the far east end of the island that are completely missing! Hurricanes, tropical storms and no name storms have had their way with the shoreline, the homes and the residents. Homes continue to be lost to the sea or relocated to avoid their seemingly inevitable fate.

The homes all along 3rd street (which is now essentially 1st street) have been particularly affected over the last 5 years or so. In order to provide them with some relief, the town, in conjuction with the county, the state and the Army Corp of Engineers embarked on a massive renourishment project back in the winter of 2013-2014. The plan was to pump sand from the ocean bottom in the inlet between OIB and Holden and distribute it down the beachfront for a couple miles. The project was in the neighborhood of $42M and the plan was to pump in the neighborhood of 500-800 million cubic yards of sand in order to restore the beachfront and protect the homes that were at that time precariously perched over the incoming tides.

Watching the project was a sight to behold! We tried to make it down every week or so to see the work in action and to see the progress. It was really a marvel of engineering! The far point was the most affected, therefore was going to receive the most sand. As the team moved their way westward down the island, it became very clear what their intention was and that was to add about 100 yards of beachfront at the far east end. In effect it would restore the land to approximately what it was over 20 years ago. 

It worked!!

It was truly amazing to now walk down the stairs at Shallotte Rd to the beach and have an abundance of acreage to park your beach self! Mother Ocean had been literally pushed back and we now had the space we needed! Homes and pools and fences got repaired; fresh paint on the newly protected and rejuvenated homes. All was good in the world.

Mother Nature however, wanted nothing to do with it. You just can’t take from your Mother and not expect retaliation! She did retaliate…with a vengeance.


Here you can see just what has been lost  and where the streets used to be.




Here you can see some photos taken at different stages of the project. Click on any photo to view it full size. You can share on social media or directly with friends/family by clicking on the E-Card link in the full sized photo.

Yes…you guessed it! This plan had disaster written all over it and disaster is what was witnessed. The new & improved beachfront flourished….for a few months. When walking along the shore on the east end one afternoon we noticed that there had been an ever so slight encroachment of the tide above the former high water mark. My first impression was not a good one. If the tide line was moving up closer to shore during mostly benign weather conditions, what would happen if any storms made their way ashore.

This is exactly what happened. Each subsequent visit, we noticed more breaks and deeper breaks until the breaks created pools up above the high water mark…just as had existed prior to the renourishment. Additional storms and astronomical higher tides added to the overwash but not until Tropical Storm Ana came ashore did it become apparent that Mother Nature was reclaiming her sand. Efforts continued to try to minimize the effects of the series of storms but the effort became totally futile after Hurricane Matthew made his visit more destructive than had been predicted. 

Here you can see photos from various stages and times after the project and you can clearly see how it was back to business as usual in the (futile) fight to resist Mother Nature.

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