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State awards $20 million in grants to shore up North Carolina beaches against storm damage

Mike Fullmer excavates sand from in front of homes in Nags Head, North Carolina on March 24, 2022. Homeowners contract companies to remove sand that has blown onto their properties and covered roads, parking area, and yards. The sand that is dredged from out in the ocean for beach nourishment is finer than the sand typically found on the beach so it blows around more and is easily displaced. Fullmer says this is the 23rd job he has worked so far this year.
Madeline Gray
for WUNC
Mike Fullmer excavates sand from in front of homes in Nags Head, North Carolina on March 24, 2022.

More than $20 million from the state Department of Environmental Quality’s (DEQ) Division of Water Resources is being awarded to eight coastal communities in North Carolina to shore up beaches against storm damage.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, beaches and sand dunes serve a critical role in protecting coastal communities from storm surge and flooding.

In a news release, Gov. Roy Cooper said the funds seek to “help combat the effects of climate change and ensure that North Carolina's coast remains a beautiful place to live, work and visit."

Beach nourishment — the process of dredging up sand from out in the ocean, pumping it onto the beach, and spreading it out with heavy machinery — has been used for many years to address the erosion of the shoreline.

More than $7 million of the award money is being used for beach nourishment projects in Dare County. Meanwhile, Nags Head is set to receive $300,000 for the construction of new dunes.

The funds are being matched by local governments with around $39 million for the awarded projects.

According to the DEQ, the state budget approved in 2021 allocated $18 million to the Coastal Storm Damage Mitigation Fund for the construction and maintenance of beaches, artificial dunes, and other projects to mitigate coastal storm damage to the coastline and dune systems of the state.

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