Sand Dunes & Sea Wall Protect Ocean City

Posted on November 18, 2012

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Sand dune cliff

Much of the Ocean City, Maryland, boardwalk would have been damaged — if not destroyed — by Hurricane Sandy in early November, if not for the solid sea wall. What if the waves had been significantly higher . . . ?   I believe that much of the New Jersey shoreline damaged in the hurricane was not protected by sea walls. For more interesting pictures showing the scene on the beach the day after Hurricane Sandy, click here. 

The sea wall protects the boardwalk from 4th Street north to 27th Street. There, an imposing dune line takes over defense of the barrier island all the way north to Delaware.

The pounding surf cut into the  sand dunes and washed away a good bit of sand. But the dune line, like the sea wall,  once again held back most of the waves and saved the town from possible serious damage and flooding.

This side view of the sand dune at 81st Street shows that even after the erosion, most of the dune survived to await future storms.

This shot shows the remnants of the wood sand fence that anchored the dune on the ocean side. 

Hurricane Sandy left the boardwalk littered with sand, straw and miscellaneous debris, but hardly any damage to buildings. The boardwalk has been cleaned up now, and numerous visitors were out walking this weekend.

We can all be thankful for the sea wall and sand dunes. Ironically, Ocean City has stouter defenses on the ocean side than on the bay side a few blocks to the west.

Most of the flooding experienced in the resort was along the bay on the west side of the island, and on streets in the southern part of town, especially St. Louis Avenue and Philadelphia Avenue.  Water was deep enough on Philadelphia Avenue at the Route 50 bridge entrance that the bridge had to be closed to traffic.

Here at the edge of the Atlantic Ocean, the sea wall and dune line are part of the town’s necessary infrastructure. They’re expensive to construct, and some money is required for maintenance. But without the sea wall and dune line, the town would have no protection at all against storms like Hurricane Sandy.

Ocean City has escaped serious damage from two hurricanes in two years. With global warming and rising sea levels, we can only wonder about the future.

– John Hayden

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Posted in: Maryland, Nature