Tybee Island mayor looking for federal funding for beach, dune development

Tybee Island mayor looking for federal funding for beach, dune development

TYBEE ISLAND, GA (WTOC) - A local mayor spent the morning in front of a congressional subcommittee in Washington D.C. hoping to raise awareness and funds to help protect Georgia's shoreline.

Tybee Island Mayor Jason Buelterman wants the federal government to chip in to help stop erosion on Tybee's beaches and prevent it from getting any worse in the future. Some areas are better off than others, but 18th Street had about two feet of standing water at one point, mainly because of this access that cuts straight through to the beach, without a dune to block it.

Mayor Buelterman pointed out to the Energy and Water Development subcommittee that dune development is not part of older federal shore protection plans, which is what Tybee currently falls under. Buelterman believes paying for dune development now will save billions of federal, state and local dollars in the future.

"One of the major lessons of Hurricane Matthew, and Superstorm Sandy, was the massive amount of money that did not need to be spent in federal post-disaster and flood insurance costs, due to the existence of man-made dunes," said Mayor Buelterman.

Mayor Buelterman used pictures of the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy in New Jersey to illustrate his point.

While the House Appropriations Committee may need convincing when it comes to doling out funds, long-time Tybee residents like Kathie Barton are all for any projects that will help save their homes in the next big storm.

"We probably wouldn't be here now. This part of the island would probably be gone without that barrier against the waves and the wind," said Barton.

FEMA dollars are set aside for a dune and beach re-nourishment project, but only on the river-side of the island. And the Army Corps of Engineers has a beach re-nourishment project slated for this fall, but that doesn't include dune creation.

"I know money's short and everybody needs some of it, but for them to go to bat for us is excellent, and I would continue to vote for someone who cares about the Island and keep it for future generations for us," said Barton.

Mayor Buelterman says Wednesday's discussion with the subcommittee was for more long-term solutions. In the meantime, the city is looking for funding options with the Army Corps of Engineers to cover the next five years or so for dune development on Tybee.

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