February 22, 2006

"The beach is our levee"

This report is self explanatory.

"The beach is our levee"

Topsail Voice by Connie Pletl (2/22/06)

SUNSET BEACH - The levees in New Orleans were built to protect the city from floodwaters. According to Ocean Isle Beach Commissioner Dean Walters, healthy beaches should be maintained to protect coastal communities. "The beach is our levee," Walters told North Carolina Lieutenant Governor Beverly Purdue. Other North Carolina coastal leaders quickly took up the phrase, stressing the importance of wide, healthy beaches to the infrastructure and residents of coastal communities. Lt. Gov. Purdue said she understood the need for healthy beaches as a first line of defense and expressed concern that there is no money in the proposed federal budget for North Carolina beach projects. "It worries me to death that there is not a continuous string of funding from the federal and state governments," said Lt. Gov. Perdue. She urged coastal leaders to be aggressive and meet with state and federal legislators often to stress the economic importance of healthy beaches and navigable waterways. "Talk to your representatives and get fired up," said Lt. Gov. Perdue, who was just one of the speakers at the Coastal Communities Winter Meeting held at Sea Trails Resort in Sunset Beach Feb. 16 and 17. Officials from North Carolina 's coastal communities meet annually to discuss issues of mutual importance and hear from experts on coastal issues. The two day event touched on many topics but hurricane preparedness and response was a subject that came up over and over again. "We need to be assured that we would receive 100-percent cooperation if a hurricane like Katrina hit," said Walters. Lt. Gov. Purdue said she felt confident that North Carolina 's response would be adequate if a Category 5 where to hit the state. "I feel good about the state's hurricane response," said Lt. Gov. Purdue. North Carolina Sea Grant coastal construction and erosion specialist Spencer Rogers discussed whether a hurricane like Katrina, which devastated the US Gulf Coast last year, could ever hit the North Carolina coast. "We are likely to see more bad storms," said Rogers . "But the destruction of a Katrina is not likely to happen here." While the North Carolina coast could be hit by a Category 5 storm like Katrina and suffer serious destruction, the damage caused by the storm surge would not be as severe because of the differing coastal geography, explained Rogers. Chris May, of the Cape Fear Council of Governments, stressed how important the beach communities are to their counties and how much revenue they contribute, even though county residents who do not live at the beach might not be aware of it. "If beach communities washed away as the result of a major storm, taxes in the counties would probably double," said May. This year's coastal communities meeting was hosted by Mayor Debbie Smith of Ocean Isle Beach , next year's will be hosted by Emerald Isle.


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