Severe storm surge puts Oak Island homes in jeopardy

Severe storm surge puts Oak Island homes in jeopardy

OAK ISLAND, NC (WECT) - Oak Island town officials shut off the power and water to four houses on the west-end after severe storm surge from Sunday night's thunderstorms caused massive amounts of beach erosion in front of and underneath the homes.

Town manager Steve Foster said violent waves breached a large sandbag wall installed earlier this year.

"Water started coming over the top of them so high. Sand started leaking out through the crevices between where the bags were laying. Now there's a significant amount of sand behind them that's been completely taken out," Foster described.

With more rain in the forecast, Foster knows time is of the essence. He said the town is working quickly to put in motion their plan to dredge the Lockwood Folly Channel and use the extra sand to replenish the beach on the west-end.

"Typically a project like this would take two to three years, but they've put the 'retrojets' on it, so to speak, so it'll be the shortest amount of time they've ever had a project go through; in about six months," Foster explained. "These types of projects are long and detailed. You have to go through a lot of environmental permitting and come up with funding. "

Foster clarified that the funding for the estimated $3.5 million project will not come from taxpayer money. He said about $1.7 million will be provided by the state division of water resources and the other half will come from accommodations taxes the town collected over the years.

In addition to replenishing the west-end beach, the dredging project will also restore a steady salt-water flow through the channel, directly benefiting the shellfish fishing industry.

The town is awaiting approval for an environmental permit. They hope to begin construction in late January or February.

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