Removal of shorefront houses following storm damage can provide opportunity to restore landforms and habitats and reduce risk to people and property. This opportunity was evaluated on the ocean coast of New Jersey, USA, following Hurricane Sandy, which occurred 29 October 2012. Houses were removed from 79 of 339 private shorefront lots in the 9 km-long segment having the greatest damage. Sixty lots remained empty four years after the storm. Mean dimensions of these empty lots were 66.3 m across shore and 23.4 m alongshore. Mean area of vegetation cover was 49.8% prior to the storm and 17.7% after the storm. The lots showed little indication of active landscaping after debris clearance, and the lots lacked topographic and vegetation diversity. The real estate value of empty lots appears too great for public purchase, and lots are weak points in shore protection plans when left to evolve naturally. A new bulkhead and extension of a pre-existing seawall built after the storm now isolate the former dune from the active backshore, eliminating natural sediment exchange between beach and dune on 47 of the 60 lots. Loss of the linkage between the backshore and dune caused by shore-parallel walls need not prevent restoration of native vegetation typical of the more stable backdune environments. Restoration actions that do not require buyout of properties for public use can contribute to the diversity, aesthetic appeal and resilience of the dune. The natural image may influence acceptance of natural vegetation and favor acceptance of managed retreat in the future when occupation of the shorefront becomes less tenable.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Aquatic Science
- Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
- Coastal storms
- Dune restoration
- Managed retreat
- Protection structures