The moving beach -- 04/04/07

This morning's Providence Journal had a front page feature story on that house I showed in my last entry. (The story is here -- but you probably have to be registered with the ProJo site to get access -- a rather moronic barrier to my way of thinking -- and I do not know how long they will have that article available -- it's such user-unfriendly site that I very rarely go there for anything.) I thought this was interesting enough that I wanted to quote a bit of the story and repeat a couple of the pictures I showed last time.

The owners of four Victorian cottages that survived major hurricanes and nor’easters for more than 100 years on the shores of Matunuck are now struggling to save their summer homes from another threat — the steadily eroding beach.

An expanse of dunes and grass that protected the cottages several years ago has been dissolved by waves. At high tide, the surf now reaches within a few feet of the cottages’ foundations.

["Matunuck's fleeting shore," Peter B. Lord, The Providence Journal, April 4, 2007, page A-1]
The story goes on to tell how some owners are attempting to save their cottages by installing this artificial sand dune -- huge coconut fiber tubes filled with sand -- in essence, giant sandbags. The article notes that some plastic fencing the owners used last year were washed away and a geologist at the state university doubts that these tubes will work either. (The state doesn't usually allow such attempts but it is making an exception since these century old buildings are on the national registry of historic buildings.)
My walk along the beach had begun at South Kingstown Town Beach and had continued down to Moonstone Beach (which was once noted for being the unofficial nude beach as well as being a popular gay beach until the state closed it for protecting the nesting area of the piping plover, an endangered bird). The beach by these houses is known as Roy Carpenter's Beach. The photograph below is another look at the attempt to use these big tubular sandbags to protect these houses.

I had misinformed you last time by saying that this house had been split by nature. In actuality it was split by contractors hired by the owner before it could tip onto the beach. He intends to have it pulled back away from the ocean and reassembled. This is the picture I showed you last time.
And here is a different look at the same building.

Some of these houses had been closer to the ocean and a few years ago had been moved back away from the ocean, but the ocean has torn away the beach faster than they had expected. The owner of this house hopes to be able to pull this house much further away from the ocean. The owners of the other surviving houses appear to be trapped where they are either because their houses might not survive a move or because there is no place for them to go. The salt ponds I showed last time are right behind these houses. They had survived the devastating 1938 hurricane that had destroyed thousands of homes and killed hundreds of people.

There had been another beach cottage here -- one belonging to former Senator Lincoln Chafee -- it had been built by his grandfather after the hurricane and it survived through the decades until a few years ago the ocean tore away its front porch. The Chafee family decided that it would be too expensive to attempt to move it and so they had it torn down and now use their land for seaside family picnics.

If you click here I think you will get to a Google satellite picture -- this house is the leftmost house by the beach. Yeah, that picture is a couple of years old. (Look at this one -- that's the South Kingstown Town Beach where our walk had begun in my previous entry -- with that hexagonal pavilion with a wooden walk leading to the beach -- and that entire boardwalk that extends to the left along the beach is all gone, broken apart by winter storms -- the boardwalk now ends where the beach sand begins.)

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