On the Atlantic shore of the Isle of Palms, a popular vacation community near Charleston, South Carolina, homeowners are engaged in a dance with the sea. The Charleston Post and Courier has the story (see: "Isle of Palms homeowners add sandbags to eroding beach; Folly Beach renourishment progresses," by Bo Petersen).
"Large sandbags have been placed on the eroding beach in front of 11 more homes in Wild Dunes, creating an intermittent wall for a mile to the signature 18th hole of the resort's Links Course," the paper reports. "The bags have been placed in front of homes along the Beachwood East and Dunecrest Lane. For homeowners, the situation is eerily reminiscent of the 2007 'sand bag debacle,' when the same row of homes, condominiums and golf course hole staved off the seas by piling tens of thousands of small sandbags that then washed away in storms and littered the coast nearby. In 2008 the beach was renourished. But in the inlet area, beach erosion and shoal attachment is a constant process."
Local authorities insist that this time is different. They say the large sandbags they're using to bolster the beach are more stable and easier to manage. And they've been patrolling the shore to corral any bags that wash off the ad-hoc bulkhead.
But owners up the beach aren't so sure. A few sandbags have reportedly gotten out of control already, the Post and Courier reports (see: "Collapsing sandbags spur complaint at eroding Wild Dunes beach," by Bo Petersen). "Devin Sadler, who farms clams off Dewees Island, is incensed," the paper reports. "I've been picking up sandbags for a couple of months now," Sadler told the paper. "I had to jump through (regulatory) hoops to get my permit. But Wild Dunes is getting a pass."
For homeowners along the shore, a long-term perspective seems to be appropriate. One long-time resident told the paper: "We've seen this beach when the water was washing up between the (Beachwood East) houses. Then last fall they had a hundred feet of vegetated dune. It happens every cycle. If you look out (in the water) you can see all sorts of sandbars. Two years from now it will be back to being a big beach again."