Thursday, March 30, 2023

Canal Drive flooding: committee to present findings to Carolina Beach Town Council

Flooding is a common sight on Canal Drive in Carolina Beach (Port City Daily/Johanna Ferebee)
Flooding is a common sight on Canal Drive in Carolina Beach (Port City Daily/Johanna Ferebee)

CAROLINA BEACH — There are plenty of perks that come with living by the coast but as with most things there are tradeoffs, and with every benefit there are risks. In Carolina Beach one such tradeoff of coastal living is dealing with flooding, especially for those traveling down Canal Drive.

Wetter weather is expected living by the coast and flooding is something most coastal towns will experience at one point or another, but for Canal Drive, flooding is a common occurrence. In fact, flooding is so prevalent here that the town has created the Canal Drive Flooding Committee to help solve the problem.

The committee will be presenting Town Council with options to help with the issue mainly relating to infrastructure improvements and a bulkhead ordinance.

“The Town Council has established a committee to work on the issue.  They have met several times and will be presenting an update to council at the August 28 Council Workshop.  At this point they have been looking at a bulkhead ordinance and infrastructure improvements,” Town Manager Michael Cramer said.

Flooding along Canal Drive has even caused FEMA to step in and help homeowners elevate their house to prevent flood damages.

Related: Carolina Beach homes being updated against floods after receiving long-awaited FEMA funding

Sunny day flooding

Canal Drive flooding has caused the town to create a committee dedicated to solving the problem (Port City Daily/Johanna Ferebee)
Canal Drive flooding has caused the town to create a committee dedicated to solving the problem (Port City Daily/Johanna Ferebee)

It’s not just stormy weather that causes flooding of Canal Drive; high tides can be enough to send the waters spilling over the road leading the town to close the street to through traffic. Sunny day flooding is a somewhat regular occurrence on Canal Drive and the town even prepares for these events in advance.

So-called king tides are astronomically driven events that lead to higher than average tides and are not driven by climate change or sea-level rise.

According to meeting minutes from the Canal Drive Flooding Committee, “North Carolina tidal gauges have recorded a clear rising trend in mean sea level since data collection was begun. The data indicates that sea level rise due to tidal rising will be along the order of 8 inches in the next 30 years (2040). Similarly, the sea level rise due to tidal rise over the past 70 years has been approximately 12 inches.”

Several other localized phenomena have measurable impacts on the water surface elevations expected

for Carolina Beach and for Myrtle Grove Sound:

  • The speed of the Gulf Stream affects tides; the faster the current flows the lower the tidal rise.
  • The artificial cut between the Cape Fear River and Masonboro Sound, Snow’s Cut transfers fresh water into Masonboro Sound at flood stages and tidal lows.
  • The artificial cut between Masonboro Sound and the ocean, Carolina Beach Inlet, allows for direct tidal influx into Myrtle Grove Sound.

The Town of Carolina Beach Town Council is expected to hear from the committee during its upcoming workshop. The committee will likely present its new bulkhead ordinance which would have to be approved by council, as well as the North Carolina Division of Coastal Management.


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