The Oregon Inlet saga continues.
Last week, the Virginian-Pilot reported that dredging will once again commence in the next few months in order to keep the North Carolina waterways connecting Pamlico Sound with the Atlantic Ocean open. The Army Corps of Engineers will dredge between Hatteras and Ocracoke Islands, as well as in Oregon Inlet and the channels around Rodanthe and Ocracoke. Funding for the most recent round of dredging comes from $54.3 million in federal disaster money that is earmarked for dredging projects statewide.
Despite initial hope that Hurricane Irene had opened the channels at the end of August 2011, shifting sands after the storm caused shoaling along ferry routes, creating some of the worst conditions that ferry captains remember seeing. With the shoaling, came a sudden and dramatic end to tourism on Ocracoke businesses.
For those who depend on tourism and fishing, news of the dredging plans is welcome. If all goes as announced, the dredging should be completed before any visitors begin arriving. That means that business on Ocracoke Island will be open for the season and fishing businesses will be able to access the ocean.
But as one person the newspaper quoted appropriately summarized, dredging is only a “Band-Aid” for a problem that really needs a more permanent solution. Residents and business owners alike continue to be frustrated by the constant issue of shoaling and a problem that just won’t seem to go away. Several years ago, a proposal to install jetties in the sounds that was backed by three decades of study and quite a bit of local suppor was rejected by the federal government. And so the refrain goes: Until a permanent solution is found, periodic dredging remains the answer we all have to live with.
About the Editors: The Shapiro, Lewis & Appleton personal injury law firm, which has offices in Virginia (VA) and North Carolina (NC), edits the injury law blogs Virginia Beach Injuryboard, Norfolk Injuryboard and Northeast North Carolina Injuryboard as pro bono services.