Rebuilding dunes vital in helping protect coastal communities during tropical storms

Published: Jun. 4, 2021 at 4:45 AM EDT
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TYBEE ISLAND, Ga. (WTOC) - Millions of dollars have been invested in something that could wash away when a hurricane hits: the dunes on Tybee Island.

When a tropical system approaches the Georgia and South Carolina coast, our first line of defense is a wide beach and a sturdy dune system. That’s why the state and federal government invested about $15 million into a beach restoration project completed in 2020.

In addition to adding 1.3 million cubic yards of sand to the beach, Tybee Island built and vegetated dunes previously damaged by Hurricanes Matthew and Irma. About 370,000 seedlings were installed into these dunes along with new sand fences that will not only help prevent erosion but will build up the dunes over time.

These plants help to prevent erosion
These plants help to prevent erosion(WTOC)

Despite the record 2020 Atlantic Hurricane season, our coast was mostly spared last season. If we do get a storm this year, Alan Robertson is confident the dunes will do their job as intended.

“They’re sacrificial, so when a hurricane comes through and takes your beach or even damages your dunes, that is what they are meant to do. Absorb that pressure, that force, so that they don’t reach your commercial district for instance down on the south end, or so they don’t reach your homes up here on the north end of the beach,” said Alan Robertson, Project Manager, City of Tybee’s Coastal Resilience project,” City of Tybee’s Coastal Resilience Project Manager Alan Robertson said.

Robertson also wants to remind residents and visitors alike not to disturb the dunes. Doing so could lead to up to $1,000 in fines or six months in jail along with 60 days of community service.

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