Fifty four percent of Americans live within 50 miles of a coast, according to 2000 U.S. Census data. Over the next 25 years the population of such coastal states as California, Texas and Florida is expected by to grow by more than 36 percent.
Americans are drawn to coastal areas in part by the tremendous economic
opportunities presented by industries such as tourism, shipping, and
commercial fishing. The economies of these areas, though, are vulnerable
to weather and the environment. Along the East and Gulf coasts alone
erosion, flooding, hurricanes and winter storms threaten more than
$3 trillion in infrastructure adjacent to shorelines each year.
The Corps works to reduce damages to shorefront development caused
by shore erosion, hurricanes, and abnormal tidal/lake flooding by
undertaking a variety of shore protection projects.
As we implement these projects we look for the solutions that are
the most economical, environmentally sound and socially acceptable.
In some cases this will involve hard structures such as breakwaters,
revetments and seawalls. In other cases a preferable approach is beach
fill, i.e. the placement of enough sand along the beach to act as
a buffer during storms to protect infrastructue and property. Storm waves move the sand
offshore, creating bars of sand that in turn cause waves to break
further offshore and provide less threat to property. Such nourishment
projects are undertaken at the request of local authorities.
To date we have completed more than 70 shore protection projects and
an additional 80 are underway. A study conducted after Hurricane Fran
found that areas protected by Corps projects sustained considerably
less property damage due to erosion than areas that were not protected.
In addition to the economic benefits, such projects often provide
habitat protection and renewal.
Through our disaster preparedness
and response program the Corps also helps businesses get back
on their feet quickly when hurricanes and other natural disaster strike
the coasts, thus reducing economic losses.