Anguilla News covers Anguilla and the wider
Anguilla’s coastline: Hurricane Omar and coastal development
- photos included.
October 21, 2008.
(Anguilla National Trust, The Valley Anguilla) - It has been
just over one week since Hurricane Omar swept by Anguilla,
unleashing its Category 3 level winds and soaking the soil,
trees, and grass with a potent mix of rain and sea water.
Today, power to most areas has been restored. Old majestic
trees that had been uprooted and battered down by strong
winds have, for the most part, been cleared away. Most of
the extra water, left behind as small ponds, has drained
away and filtered through the land.
The scars of the hurricane can still be seen though – tracts
of land once covered with shrubs and trees are open fields,
trees have been burned brown by salt, and the road is
littered with dusty dirt, gravel, and leaves. Soon enough,
though, the land will recover. What may take a little
longer, though, are the beaches.
Hurricanes and other strong storm systems have long put
pressure on Anguilla’s beaches and coastal habitats. In the
past, these areas have been able to recover relatively
quickly. Lately, though, recovery has been much slower and
far more limited. This is partly because of how we have
impacted the natural environment.
When it comes to coastal development, we have tended to
strip away the protective vegetation that lines the island’s
beaches (and that would have otherwise helped to hold the
sand in place) and this has allowed for an incredible amount
of beach erosion. After this hurricane, while some beaches
have been lucky and have actually seen an increase in the
amount of sand on their shores, others have seen their sand
washed away or displaced – either out to sea or to other
beaches down-current. Property damage to beach-front villas
and resorts could have been substantially worse had Anguilla
been hit directly by the hurricane. In an effort to minimise
damage to coastal properties, owners sometimes build walls
and barriers. While they may, to some extent, protect
buildings, they do not necessarily offer a long-term or
sustainable solution. At times, in fact, they make natural
recovery of the shoreline that much more difficult.
Moreover, mechanically moving sand back onto the beach is
not always appropriate, affordable, or realistic.
So what may work better? Letting nature take its course is
almost always the best option.
When constructing buildings close to the coastline,
leave coastal vegetation to hold sand in place and to
promote beach growth;
Set properties back from the sandy beach line and
the vegetation line;
Avoid building on sand dunes and sand bars;
Build with the environment in mind – avoid trying to
manipulate and dominate it;
Conduct environmental impact assessments (EIAs) that
objectively look at coastal development and its impacts
on the environment and the potential impacts the
environment may have on it;
Implement EIA recommendations on how to make coastal
development less intrusive and more
now-exposed wall that lines Cap Juluca,
Fresh tracks from trucks
removing sand, Windward Point. The chance for
sand to be naturally displaced from Windward
Point to other beaches around Anguilla has been
lost. The sand that was mined may have come from
currents that took it from Scrub Island.
Beach erosion by The Dune
Preserve, Rendezvous Bay
Boats grounded by strong
seas, Sandy Ground
Nature’s way of reclaiming an
in-filled section of pond, Rendezvous Bay Pond
nourishment, Mead’s Bay
Dolphin Discovery, Blowing
beach “nourishment” happening by Cuisinart
Resort and Spa, Rendezvous Bay
by Cuisinart Resort and Spa, Rendezvous Bay