TYBEE ISLAND, GA – When it comes to protecting homes, property, and wildlife from increasingly destructive storms, Tybee Island is at the leading edge of the wave to improve its resiliency. These innovative efforts have captured the attention of elite scientists at home and abroad.
During the month of March, Tybee Island will host scientists from NASA as well as government officials from as far away as Africa. They will study the island’s current and future plans to better withstand coastal winds and flooding in the face of changing weather patterns.
Using a combination of grants and local funds, the city has aggressively worked to improve its resiliency from hurricane winds and flooding by expanding its shoreline, restoring sand dunes, elevating houses and lifting critical infrastructure.
The first group to visit Tybee Island March 4 will be part of the U.S. Forest Service’s International Seminar on Community Resilience. This group includes senior government officials and advisors from around the world, including Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Namibia, Nepal, Jamaica and Brazil.
Tybee Island has continued to gain attention for its efforts to address the impacts of changing coastal climates.
“Tybee Island continues to show leadership in building its resilience to storms and flooding, strengthening the natural protections provided by its beach and marsh” said Jill Gambill, Coastal Resilience specialist for UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant
In 2014, it became the first community in Georgia to create a municipal sea level rise plan, assessing exposure to sea-level rise and flooding over the next 50 years. As a result of that award-winning 2014 plan, and in the wake of back-to-back 100-year storm events in Hurricanes Matthew (2016) and Irma (2017) and Hurricanes Michael and Florence in 2018, Tybee has already begun improvements focused on the beachside of the island.
A beach nourishment effort wrapped up in January after the US Army Corps of Engineers – in a $15 million project – added more than 1.3 million cubic yards of sand to the beach. Following that, the city restored and added dunes, and will next begin the vegetation of these dunes. Additionally, the Georgia Department of Transportation recently repaved US Highway 80, raising the causeway eight inches in flood-prone areas. Tybee has also been awarded a FEMA Hazard Mitigation grant to elevate homes on the island.
Last November, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation awarded a $125,000 grant to the City of Tybee Island to help the community better withstand more frequent storms and flooding caused by rising, warming seas. This grant, combined with funding from the OneGeorgia grant the state awarded last year, will allow Tybee Island to develop innovative solutions to coastal resilience, particularly in the tidal marsh areas.