Oak Island beach access

As the limbs, leaves, siding, shingles and construction debris are cleared, the next priority for Oak Island officials is to gather sand, clear beach access areas and, eventually, sift and return sand to a hurricane-battered beach.

Hickman Utilities of Bladenboro finished a 7.6-mile emergency “push” dune last Tuesday. Bulldozers moved sand from a depth of one foot at mean low tide to just seaward of the former dune or building vegetation line, officials said. It created a roughly seven-foot-tall emergency pile of sand. Along much of the island, it’s the only visible protection from the next storm.

Push dunes are considered a last resort for protection of property landward of the beach strand. Some owners are digging into and breaching the dune, a subject of Oak Island Town Council’s special meeting Monday (see separate story on this edition).

The push did not include an undeveloped area just east of Blue Water Point where there are known sea turtle nests. It also skipped the spot between Barbee and Trott avenues because that area still has sand from a recent project, Town Manager David Kelly said.

More than a dozen beach accesses remain closed as of Monday. Moving the sand from those areas to the storage yard is the first job. After that, town workers and contractors will clear more of the side streets that connect Dolphin and Beach drives, he said.

The town is applying for permits to sift and return the stored sand. It will likely happen in December, Kelly said.

Damages highest among counties

Brunswick County incurred an estimated $15.4-million damage, by far the highest loss among the 15 counties named in Gov. Roy Cooper’s formal request for disaster assistance sent last Wednesday. The threshold for statewide disaster help is $4.1-million; actual documented damages are $28.1-million, the governor stated.

“Unfortunately, North Carolinians are tested frequently by extreme weather and hurricanes,” Cooper said in a prepared statement. “This application for aid from our federal partners will help us rebuild stronger and smarter, so our communities can recover from the damage done by Hurricane Isaias.”

If approved, the declaration will help local governments and some non-profit organizations pay for structural repairs, debris removal, search and rescue efforts, meals, generators and some other expenses.

Hurricane Isaias made landfall August 3 south of Oak Island and caused major flooding in several communities. Four deaths were attributed to the storm that spurred four tornadoes, damaged water supply lines, roads and bridges and knocked out power to more than 375,000 customers.