With the official start of hurricane season less than a month away, residents of North Carolina are paying less attention to property insurance than to sand bags. Why? Because officials from the State are inspecting 370 sandbag structures along the beach, trying to identify 150 of them that must be removed.
Sandbag piles that have been covered over with sand and support living vegetation will not be taken down, but any exposed sandbags will have to be removed, according to the coastal and ocean policy manager at the state Division of Coastal Management, Mike Lopazanski. “We’re not going to have people dig up the beach just so they can remove sandbags,” he said.
The state of North Carolina banned hardened erosion-prevention structures like seawalls in 1985, but has always allowed sandbagging along ocean beaches as long as their use is temporary. The problem, critics say, is that they eventually become permanent, block public access to beaches, and even make erosion worse for neighboring properties.
On the other side of the argument, the people who actually use sandbags say that without them the beaches on which their homes, roads, and hotels are built would be washed into the sea.
While the official deadline for removal of exposed sandbags was May 1st, 2008, property owners have a thirty-day grace period before fines are imposed, and also have the option of seeing a variance from the state, which would allow them to retain their sandbags.