Will the Topsail Beach renourishment project stand against Irene?

PENDER COUNTY, NC (WECT) – Hurricane Irene may test the strength of the most recent beach nourishment project in the Town of Topsail Beach.

The town recently completed a nourishment project that covered one million cubic yards of sand and cost nearly $10 million.  Town leaders say they have confidence their beach will survive Hurricane Irene.

"In general, we're more confident having more sand on the beach, having the higher profile on the beach," said Christina Watkins. "You know, we're in a lot better shape than we were last year."

Surfer Cody Leutgens has lived in Topsail all his life and is a little more skeptical.  While he's excited about the waves Irene will bring, he says no amount of money can protect his home from Mother Nature.

"You can tell on a lower tide how much more beach there is, and that's going to help you no matter what," said Leutgens.  "But if a category four, category five hurricane comes in, it's not going to matter how much sand, how much beach, how big the dunes are -- it's going to do whatever it wants to do."

The Town of Topsail says the renourishment project wasn't built for perfection, but for protection.

"Even if it gets some erosion to it, that's definitely possible, but that's what it's there for," said Watkins. "It's there to take that impact and to hopefully keep it back from the houses."

Officials in Topsail Beach say they have taken steps to ensure they are compliant with FEMA criteria to replace material that could be lost due to storm erosion.

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