Final Workshop: ERP meeting leaves lingering questions

Port Isabel-South Padre Press

Wave after wave crashes ashore, sending seawater splashing up against pilings which bolster upscale homes and apartment buildings. A closer look at the shore reveals something unusual. Rather than sand or rocks, the shoreline is made up of long, dun colored sandbags stacked several layers deep. With the crest of each wave the line of sandbags is temporarily obscured by murky water.

Such was the imagery Peter Ravella showed attendees at the final Cameron County Erosion Response Plan (ERP) workshop Monday evening. The beachfront homes in the video stand on precarious ground along the North Carolina coast in a community less than two decades old, Ravella explained. The aerial footage is at once alarming and succinct in its point: beach erosion is real and can have catastrophic effects on development.

“It is no longer possible for us as coastal professionals … for us to say that we don’t know enough about this now,” Ravella, of PAR consulting, told the small audience gathered at the Cameron County Commissioners Courtroom.

The North Carolina community featured in the video has already spent $10 million and increased taxes by 40 percent in an attempt to win an unwinnable battle against the force of nature. “This is what happens when you don’t accept the reality of the wind, and the waves and storms,” Ravella said.

However, the story doesn’t have to be the same for the South Texas coast, he said.

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