|Yesterday I had the opportunity to meet with officials in Washington, DC about some of the major issues Tybee is facing. Many thanks to the Army Corps, Senators Isakson (pictured below) and Perdue and Congressman Carter for taking time to discuss these issues. Tybee tax dollars funded this one day trip to DC and I want to report back on the meetings.|
The following items were part of the discussions:
1-Tybee’s efforts to extend our federal shore protection (beach renourishment) agreement.
In 1973, Tybee and the feds agreed on a 50 year partnership whereby the beach would be replenished with sand at periodic intervals (usually every 7-8 years) and that the costs would be shared—60% federal and 40% local. This agreement expires in 2023. We have been
working for the last few years to extend this for 15 years through a study called ‘1037’ and expect this will be done soon.
2-Funding Phase Two of the Channel Impact Study.
In 2006, the Army Corps completed a study called ‘Phase One Channel Impact’. This study verified what Tybee had been arguing all along—that the man-made Savannah shipping channel was robbing Tybee of sand that would, without the existence of the channel, drift from points northward to Tybee. The study said that approximately 78% of the erosion of sand on Tybee’s shelf and shoreline is caused by the shipping channel. We are lobbying for the feds to conduct Phase Two which would essentially determine what the feds are going to do about the issue. Our hopes are that this study will extend the shore project to the Savannah River side of the Island, add dunes to our periodic renourishment projects, and extend our federal project indefinitely.
3-Addressing the issue of ship wake safety hazards.
As ships come into the Georgia Ports facilities in Savannah, they displace more water causing a mini-tsunami effect. This poses a significant safety threat for those on the north end of our beach, especially on the Savannah River side. Our Senators and Congressman were shown videos of the phenomenon. Tybee has taken steps to warn those on the beach who may be impacted by working with bar pilots to notify people on the beach when a large ship is passing by and putting up signs (like the one shown) to warn people of the problem. Yesterday we discussed possible long term solutions to this issue (ie fortifying the breakwater out in the shipping channel).
4-Overcoming the issues that are holding up the permits needed for replacing the Bull and Lazaretto Creek bridges.
This project is close to the end of the permitting process and we need to push it across the finish line so that funds can be allocated for construction.
5-Getting an answer from FEMA on our hazard mitigation grant.
Tybee applied, on behalf of over 60 homeowners, for a grant to lift their homes out of the flood zone. We have been waiting for an answer for over a year on this application and stressed how important it is for these homeowners, many of whom experienced major flood damage from Irma and Matthew, to find out whether this grant will be approved or not. It is a major part of Tybee’s efforts to mitigate potential future hurricane damage and the long term threat of sea level rise.
Although these meetings don’t always yield immediate results, it is very important to plug away at them in DC on a regular basis so that our community’s interests are being addressed for the long term. Thanks again to our elected representatives for their willingness to take time to discuss these issues and to our city manager for his support in these important meetings.