Hurricane Leftoversby Jessica Schwarz, Hampstead, NCThe cool breeze blowing through the sea grass, hot sand under your feet, the bright sun reflecting off a placid ocean as the briny salt air wafts up the dune ... Everyone missed the beauty and serenity of the beaches of North Carolina.Two years ago, Hurricanes Fran and Bertha destroyed the southern coast; ripping winds and raging surf tore through our beaches, leaving them barren and strewn with debris, exposing our dunes which, like the sands of an hourglass, would soon wash and blow away, leaving the residents of the Barrier Islands unprotected from the vengeful, encroaching seas and ferocious winds.In 1998, Hurricane Bonnie took her cue from her "leading ladies" and bore into our coast with brute force. Residents were faced with new problems. In the aftermath of these storms, something had to be done to rebuild the beaches and protect the dunes.Together with their communities, as well as local service organizations such as the Topsail High School Key Club, my peers and I set out to restore the beauty of our coast. We started by planting sea grass. Residents could buy plugs of grass in bundles of 1,000 and we supplied the labor for free. Raking and plugging our way along our local beaches in just a few months, we planted the grass from end to end of our local shoreline. It sturdily is taking hold of the loose dunes. This also gave a new habitat to local wildlife, such as crabs and birds.Next, there will be a tree drive at Christmas. As in past years, residents donate their trees to build the lost sand along the shoreline instead of throwing them away. Piles of trees line the beach as the fine needles grasp the blowing grains until they are completely buried and full of the pure white sand.Soon you will never know that a hurricane, let alone three, hit our coast. Together the members of our community showed that teamwork, volunteers and a little hard work can fix any crisis. The gorgeous coast of North Carolina is back, more beautiful than ever, and it is here to stay. ^
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.