1/7/23: EROSION IN SOUTH LED TO SAND SHORTFALL IN NORTH, TOWN MANAGER SAYS; NO WORD ON ACCESS AT HILLCREST BEACH; Plus Detonation of an Abandoned Ordnance and the Launch of an Accessible Playgrounds Project.

The first full moon of a new year is known as a wolf moon, and ours last night was spectacular. There will be 13 full moons in 2023, including a blue moon on Aug. 31. We wish we had taken a photo of the moon rising over the ocean yesterday–which we saw–but alas, we did not. The moon above is in a stock photo.

The misdistribution of sand on the Southern Shores beaches during the nourishment project—which left the northern beaches with a shortfall—occurred because of erosion in the southern end of town between Sept. 15 and Oct. 7, 2022, which caused the dredging contractor to over-fill in that area, according to Town Manager Cliff Ogburn at Tuesday’s Town Council meeting.

(See The Beacon, 1/4/23, for our first report on Tuesday’s Town Council meeting and the Town Manager’s beach nourishment update. We add to that report here.)

After a preconstruction survey of the beach was performed in August 2022, the Town Manager explained, Coastal Protection Engineering (CPE), the coastal engineer/manager for the project, “redesigned the project” to reflect “natural changes” to the beaches that had occurred since the previous survey in 2021.

Accretion of sand actually occurred on the northern beaches between the surveys, Mr. Ogburn said, noting: “As everyone knows, we have a very dynamic beach,” which is constantly changing.  

CPE’s redesign, he said, was submitted to Weeks Marine, the dredging contractor, on Sept. 15, but it did not start dredging in Southern Shores until Oct. 7; in the interim, the Outer Banks experienced a prolonged period of wind, rain, and elevated ocean waters, the effects of which, he said, were not accounted for in CPE’s new template.

As many of you may recall, the storms were brought on Sept. 30-Oct. 1 by a stalled front off the coast, high pressure to the north, and the passage of Hurricane Ian to the west and south.  

While the Town received the 894,000 cubic yards of sand for which it contracted—in fact, Mr. Ogburn said, it “got in excess of that”—the beaches north of 5th Avenue did not receive the agreed-upon 22 cubic yards of sand per linear foot because of Weeks’ overfill in the south. Instead, they received only 13 cubic yards of sand per linear foot, as we have previously reported.

As The Beacon reported on 1/4/23, Mr. Ogburn announced at the Town Council meeting that Weeks Marine will place an additional 37,500 cubic yards on the northern beaches in March, when it returns to do the Duck nourishment project, which it had to postpone. The new sand, the Town Manager said, will ensure a “uniform density” of 22 cubic yards of sand per linear foot.

Left unaddressed by Mr. Ogburn was the issue of how Weeks Marine’s heavy equipment will access both the northern Southern Shores beaches and the 1.6 miles of shoreline in northern Duck that are to be nourished.

According to our sources, the Southern Shores Civic Assn. Board of Directors has not approved Weeks’ use of the Hillcrest Beach, which the SSCA owns, as an access for the Duck project, which extends from the Army Corps of Engineers’ research pier to north of Skimmer Way and is estimated to take at least six weeks.  

The Board may revise its position, subject to certain contractual conditions, now that Southern Shores beaches are included in the dredging work, or it may not.     

There currently is no open site in Duck for Weeks’ equipment to access the area of the Duck shoreline that is in dire need of nourishment. Duck oceanfront property owners have refused to accommodate the dredging contractor.


A loud boom that could be heard around 5:30 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 2, coming from the Chicahauk area, was the sound of an “unexploded ordnance” being detonated, according to Southern Shores Volunteer Fire Dept. Chief Ed Limbacher, who reported on the detonation of the World War II ammunition at the Town Council meeting.

According to Chief Limbacher, a Southern Shores resident called the SSVFD station at 11:54 a.m. to report finding the old ordnance in his/her yard. When the Chief arrived at the scene, he said, he found an ordnance that “was not normal for me,” having never seen one like it.

Limbacher called the U.S. Dept. of Defense, which safely detonated it in place, after the SSVFD secured the area, later that day, the Chief said.

Limbacher showed a photograph of the discarded military ordnance, which looked to us like a long, rusty, iron artillery shell. We would estimate its length to be at least four feet.

“If you find something like that,” the Chief said, “please don’t touch it.” And how.

Southern Shores is on the site of a former WWII practice range, Mayor Elizabeth Morey pointed out. The Chief said the ordnances he has removed in the past have usually been practice flares.


Kitty Hawk Elementary School (KHES) principal Dr. Lisa Colvin and Kellie Flock, a local physician’s assistant who has an elementary school-aged child with cerebral palsy, presented Tuesday a project they are heading up to convert the two playgrounds at KHES into areas that all children can access, regardless of their mobility.

They aspire to remove “barriers of conventional playgrounds,” Dr. Colvin said, so that the school’s play areas are “inclusive and accessible” for all children.

The KHES playgrounds have soft mulch and uneven surfaces that Ms. Flock’s daughter, Nola, who walks with a wheeled walker and previously used a wheelchair, cannot traverse. When Ms. Flock learned that her daughter, then in kindergarten, could not play with her friends on the school playgrounds, she contacted administrators at KHES and set into motion the accessible playgrounds project, which already has $120,000 in funding.

For more information about the project, see www.khesplayground.com.

According to Dr. Colvin and Ms. Flock, the renovation of the two KHES playgrounds, which consist of three areas, according to designs on the website, is estimated to cost $805,000. They are hopeful that they will be able to break ground on phase one of the project by the end of this year.  

The two organizers said they sought the “support and guidance” of the Town of Southern Shores, which all Town Council members assured them they had.

Ann G. Sjoerdsma, 1/7/23


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