Now that the beach in south Nags Head has been restored, what happens next?
As background, the 2022 beach project, paid for primarily by FEMA and the State, restored sand lost as a result of Hurricane Dorian in 2019. It was not a regular maintenance project or, as occurred in 2019, a disaster restoration project combined with regular maintenance work. Instead, this project replaced sand in locations where losses were documented from Hurricane Dorian.
Once pumped onto the beach, the sand is redistributed gradually through a natural process called equilibration. It is normal for a newly constructed beach to readjust and change substantially in the first few months. Sand redistribution along the oceanfront is an ongoing process that is primarily impacted by wave energy, duration, and direction. The engineered beach design accounts for modest waves to move and spread the sediment so the natural beach assumes a more natural form. In addition, the design provides enough fill to decrease wave energy and reduce the potential for overwash.
Our previous projects have experienced varying levels of inundation after construction, (see the photo below, taken after the 2019 nourishment project), which is not uncommon. The beach now has enough sand to heal and recover from storms by reshaping and reforming to dissipate wave energy.
As part of the beach fill construction process, beach condition data is collected, analyzed, and certified before placement and after placement to ensure consistency with design parameters, environmental regulations, and confirmation for payment purposes. The certification process is thorough in its review.
The ongoing implementation of beach nourishment projects aid in the mitigation of coastal erosion and protecting life and property through hurricane and storm damage reduction in addition to providing environmental, recreational, and aesthetic benefits.