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Water-Related News

Living shorelines: Natural defense to storms

TALLAHASSEE – Back in September, as Hurricane Sally battered Florida's panhandle with a deluge of rain and high winds, some locals said their living shorelines were their best defense against the area's storm surge.

Instead of a hardened seawall aimed at protecting shores from erosion, living shorelines use vegetation and other natural elements like oyster shells to stabilize estuarine coasts, bays, and tributaries.

Josh Poole built a living shoreline around his property in Gulf Breeze to stop erosion from his beach.

Despite seeing Hurricane Sally's waves break as high as 17 feet over his boathouse, he said his shoreline stayed strong.

"I literally thought that the beach would be gone," Poole maintained. "I thought that the rocks would be gone, I thought the oyster shells would all be just washed away. And I was absolutely amazed to find that a few of the late boulders on top had been moved around maybe a few feet, I mean, literally 18 inches."

Hurricane Sally was expected to strike Alabama and Mississippi. Instead, it made a slow crawl over land in Florida's Panhandle with 105-mile-per-hour winds, ripping roofs, snapping trees, and leaving thousands without power.

Poole hopes other homeowners will consider living shorelines as a means of erosion protection.