KITTY HAWK, NC (WAVY)– The coastal storm pounded the Outer Banks. It was a hard, driving rain. It lasted long periods of time, and forced most inside. Some came out to Highway 12 in Kitty Hawk to look over the new dune that is on top of scores of 1000 pound bags of sand. They didn’t stay long because of the rain.
They were looking out at a violent surf, a white capped ocean fury. The coastal storm is testing the $500,000 sandbag project to protect Highway 12 in Kitty Hawk.
Public Works Director Willie Midgett is in charge of monitoring any collapses, “These bags block down the wave energy. They are designed, although it doesn’t look like it, to protect the road…and to stop the surf from undermining the road. Midgett says “it doesn’t look like it” because the bags are exposed. Another group of bags down the beach remain covered and can not be seen. The surf erosion has taken an estimated four feet of sand already.
But here’s the bottom line. The sandbags are working, and the sand may be gone around some of the bags, but the bags are there and are providing the stability they were designed to do. It was in April that this stretch of Highway 12 collapsed. It was ripped up. Total collapse. The damage and inconvenience costing much more than the possible sandbag solution, “When it comes to infrastructure of this road we had such a tough time when it got swept out before. It affects businesses, cottages in this area…and we still have lots of tourists still in the area. Tourists like Tina Valeska from Pittsburgh. She was here in July when this stretch of Highway 12 reopened. “It’s great that it opened up, but I don’t expect it to stay open. I think it will be in an area that keeps getting hit.”
Willie Midgett’s hoping the sandbag idea simply works, “they can be lifesavers because they allow commerce to continue on this road.”
Kay Weaver is from Franklin and she has seen the good, the bad, and the ugly in coast storms, “I hope the money spent will hold the bags in place. If it doesn’t get worse then we should be fine, I hope.” Midgett puts it the way it probably is, “If Mother Nature wants it then Mother Nature will take it.”