Last night’s storm with high tide and heavy wind was a good test of the structure of the berm. It performed as expected – excellent really. The berm was not damaged in the storm. A small amount of debris came through the berm near the Bay Breeze restaurant, which is to be expected in a storm like this. There was no damage to Birch Bay Drive, the walkway, or construction equipment. Some of the plantings along the slope of the berm were lost or damaged. We will assess the plantings through the spring and summer to see what we will need to replant. The project remains on schedule; the storm did not cause any setbacks.
Areas of Birch Bay Drive near Birch Bay State Park did have water on the roadway. This part of the road was not protected by the berm. There was flooding around Terrell Creek because the combination of strong winds and high tides kept the creek water from flowing out into the bay. The berm is designed to keep seawater from inundating Birch Bay Drive and the surrounding areas and is not designed to protect the freshwater creek floodplain.
The Birch Bay Drive and Pedestrian Facility Project uses the natural slope of the restored shoreline to dissipate the force of waves and thereby mitigate the damage from these kinds of storms. The photos below illustrate how wave energy was dissipated and prevented large driftwood logs and seawater from reaching areas of the berm that have been completed so far. No engineering project will be able to prevent all the damage from every storm. What the berm project does is mitigate and reduce the potential damage. The storm we had on Jan. 13 very well could have been similar to what we saw in 2018, with large driftwood logs on the road and the pavement itself eroded, if not for the protection provided by the berm. We in Public Works would like to thank the Birch Bay community for their forethought and vision on this important project known as the Berm Project. We look forward to celebrating the completion of this project with you in the spring/summer of 2021!
Photos: Photo Credit Doralee Booth