"Facing opposition from politicians, this North Carolina scientist is urging coastal communities to get ready for rising water."
"SWAN QUARTER, North CarolinaThis 19th century fishing village stands three feet above sea level at the bottom of the coastal plain known as the Inner Banks. It is home to 301 people, a small fishing fleet that has seen better days, and is surrounded by 18 miles of dikes, including a 7-foot steel barrier installed a couple of hurricanes ago, courtesy of FEMA’s millions.
When Stan Riggs, a coastal geologist, visited here two weeks after Hurricane Matthew blew through, Swan Quarter was dry behind its barricade. But the surrounding landscape remained sodden, and the signs of saltwater intrusion from storm surges and rising tides that Riggs likens to 'a creeping disease'are visible all across the plain. Whole 'ghost forests' poisoned by saltwater stand sentinel to rising tides.
'We cannot engineer our way out of this,'he says. 'We can build bigger and bigger dikes, but the net changes are driven by ocean dynamics, and it’s on a one-way track right now.'"