After the Storm: Designing Resilient Shorelines

As I write this today, I am sitting at my home office in New Bern, North Carolina. As you may recall, New Bern was front and center in the national news for the destruction from a 10’ storm surge caused by Hurricane Florence. The devastation is great. Seeing all the belongings people have piled high along the curb after feet of water destroyed their things is heartbreaking. Marinas were destroyed with countless boats sunk and others carried hundreds of feet upland. Many say, “That’s what you get!” when you live on the water. You have to understand, New Bern is about 30 miles inland on the Neuse River… not exactly on the coast.

What does this have to do with Filtrexx? It got me thinking about creating resilient structures both along the shoreline and in the flood plain. What do resilient structures look like? Most people see homes raised in the air to allow the water to rush under the house, or adding flood doors in crawl spaces to allow the water to move through without destroying the home. With shorelines, we can stop placing bulkheads along the shoreline which transfers the wave energy to unprotected areas. The surge is higher than the top of the shoreline structures that allow the wave energy to remove the soil from behind the bulkhead, causing a total collapse of the structure.

Living Shorelines have proven themselves time and time again to help absorb the wave energy, helping to reduce the energy that would normally erode the bank. Bioretention systems can help reduce stormwater volume to prevent flooding and dam failures. Compost filled SiltSoxx do not fall down. GreenLoxx wall systems help to absorb water, not repel it like hard structures.

The bottom line is real: sea levels are rising. We will see more storms and they will be more damaging, as the structures built years ago cannot stand up to these storms. Among the devastation, we have an opportunity to rebuild new structures that are more resilient than the ones destroyed.

As we begin to plan for recovery and designs are proposed, ask yourself one thing: Is this structure resilient and am I planning for tomorrow? I will certainly be keeping this question in mind, especially as I participate in the upcoming National Summit on Coastal and Estuarine Restoration and Management in December. I’m honored to be speaking at this summit, and I look forward to learning from others as well on new ways we can build resilient shorelines.

We are lucky that Filtrexx has a full team of experts ready to help you design and implement the most suitable living shoreline solution for your specific project – please don’t hesitate to reach out.

Jeff Opel has 30 years of experience in the natural resources industry. Many of those years were served as District Manager of several Soil Conservation Districts in Maryland.As District Manager Jeff was responsible for advancing new and innovative sediment and erosion control technology used during the construction process. Jeff also administered the State of Maryland’s Living Shoreline program in several Counties in the state and participated in the development of several stream restoration projects. New advanced technologies used included the use of Flocculating agents to increase the efficiency of existing sediment control techniques. Jeff also created designs for multi chamber sediment basins incorporating bio filters to increase trapping efficiency. It was at this position that Jeff became familiar with Filtrexx which was used with great success. Since leaving the government service after 20 years Jeff ran a field office for a civil engineering firm in Delaware, as well as several landscape companies, before coming to Filtrexx. With Filtrexx Jeff has worked in business development for the mid-Atlantic, and in Technical Sales support for the Southeast region. Presently Jeff represents Filtrexx as the Southeast Regional Sales Manager and is actively developing Filtrexx initiatives related to stream restoration and living shorelines.

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