In Cape Region, Sandy brought more help than destruction
Superstorm Sandy was the largest storm ever to make its way up the East Coast. For two days, the storm held the Cape Region dead in its sights and appeared to gather strength as residents braved the winds to stand on Rehoboth’s Boardwalk and watch the beach shrink.
Then, at the last possible moment, the storm paused briefly before heading slightly north, slamming instead into New Jersey and New York City, where in many places residents still struggle to rebuild their homes and communities.
Meanwhile, our area escaped with erosion, but not destruction.
Here in the Cape Region, just more than a year after the worst of the storm’s fury passed us by, our ocean beaches head into winter as wide as they were before Sandy – thanks to beach replenishment funded by federal disaster relief awarded in the wake of the storm.
Thanks to those same funds, after years of inaction that allowed wide breaches to decimate the marshes of Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge, federal disaster relief to East Coast refuges will be used to rebuild the dunes and help pay the cost of building new marshes.
The storm also drew attention to the narrow beach north of Indian River Inlet, where Sandy seriously threatened the new $150 million bridge.
The north-side beach has finally drawn the attention of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which is widening the beach in front of dunes newly rebuilt by the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control.
In a process not unlike the natural movement of coastal dunes, our replenished beaches are likely to shift again when the next storm hits, and some will rail at big government and what they might call its misuse of funds.
Still, as we give thanks for the many blessings we enjoy living so near the ocean with its beaches, marshes and thriving small towns, we might also pause to give thanks that Sandy for the most part spared our region yet still drew much-needed federal funding to pay for critical beach- and marsh-building work.