Homeowner decision-making

Hurricanes can be very damaging to coastal areas, and as more coastal infrastructure is built, we want to make sure that we are building structures that work at protecting coastal properties and lives and that also won’t cost homeowners an arm and a leg to maintain.


We did a field study looking at shoreline damage along estuarine shorelines in the Outer Banks after Hurricane Irene in 2011 and Hurricane Arthur in 2014. We also surveyed NC waterfront homeowners to find out whether or not they had experienced hurricane damage to their property and how much it cost them to repair that damage and how much it cost them to generally maintain their shoreline. In particular, we were interested in finding out what people thought were the most important things to do to protect their property during a hurricane and whether or not those chosen methods were working


Most people think that if they build a big wall at the edge of their property that it will offer the best protection for their property. Our study shows that this is not necessarily the case.

Bulkheads, which are the shoreline stabilization method of choice in NC, sustain a great deal of damage during storms. Accordingly, after storms, a large proportion of homeowners with bulkheads are having to do some kind of maintenance to their shoreline. Repairing damage after storms costs homeowners with bulkheads twice as much money when compared to homeowners with natural shorelines and riprap revetments, and four times as much in annual maintenance


Funding partners:

  • North Carolina Coastal Recreation Fishing License Fund

  • North Carolina Sea Grant 

  • North Carolina Sentinel Site Cooperative

Carter Smith

Duke University Marine Lab

135 Duke Marine Lab Rd

Beaufort, NC 28516

©2017 by Carter Sheldon Smith

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