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Topsail Island Rebuilding Dunes Washed Away By Bonnie

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TOPSAIL ISLAND — Topsail Island residents are shelling out the money to replace sand dunes washed away by Hurricane Bonnie. But town leaders say the new line of defense may not protect their homes.

"Sand dunes are important because they are the first line of defense against overwash and flooding," zoning administrator Terri Potts explains.

The dunes were built after Hurricane Fran and they proved their worth during Hurricane Bonnie. The sand dunes kept dozens of homes from washing away.

But almost fifty percent of the dunes, and the protection they provided, were washed inland.

Homeowner Alan Claymen says that leaves island property very vulnerable.

"There's nothing between us and the ocean. It's very scary. When storms come we worry about them. They're just a small pile of sand but it means everything to all these people along the beaches."

Now town officials are dumping piles of sand where the dunes used to be, and the project is costing more than $1,000,000.

Potts says the town will probably have to pay for the new dunes. "And eventually the citizens, because of the tax base."

But many residents and town officials say the sand itself is not enough.

TheU.S. Fish and Wildlife Servicesays developed dunes hurt the environment. So residents will be unable to move the sand, or plant vegetation to stabilize the dunes.

The change could mean less effective protection. "When we had it all done a year ago and had it all planted it really helped with the last hurricane," island resident Mike Rupert says.

Town leaders will be meeting with members of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service next month to try and work out an agreement.


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