$500K Sand Dune Designed to Protect Coastal Homes Washes Away in Just 3 Days

Residents in Salisbury, Massachusetts, faced significant losses after investing $500,000 in a sand dune to protect their beachfront homes from encroaching tides, only to see it washed away within 72 hours. The dune, constructed with 14,000 tons of sand, succumbed to the impact of three consecutive storms, including two in January and one more recent, coinciding with high astronomical tides.

Rick Rigoli, overseeing the project, cited the series of storms and high tides as key factors in the dune’s rapid erosion. Ron Guilmette, a homeowner whose tennis court had previously been destroyed by storms, expressed uncertainty about the value of his property and his future in the area, labeling the situation as “catastrophic.”

In February, they built the sand dune to stop the strong winds and high tides from harming the houses. Before that, in December 2022, the protective dunes were washed away, leaving the homes at risk. Even though the new dune didn’t last long, the volunteers who made it said it still helped a lot. They said things would have been much worse without it.

Salisbury’s susceptibility to severe weather, including nor’easters and hurricanes, stems from its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean and its position under the powerful jet stream. Coastal flooding exacerbated by Atlantic storms further threatens the area.

“Their proximity to the Atlantic Ocean gives them a source of moisture and their northern latitude also firmly places them under the powerful jet stream during much of the year,” he added, noting that Salisbury “is also affected by coastal flooding pushed ashore by storms out in the Atlantic.”

In response to the damage, homeowners called on the state for assistance. Republican state senator Bruce Tarr initiated efforts to secure $1.5 million in state funding for dune reconstruction, emphasizing the importance of managing natural resources to protect community interests. However, he noted that constructing a permanent seawall was not feasible due to regulations prohibiting hard structures on Massachusetts beaches.

Coastal towns are dealing with big problems because of climate change and rising sea levels. Protecting homes by the sea is tough because the coast is always changing. We need new and smart ideas to keep people safe and protect their homes from the dangers of the sea.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *