Life in Bay Center on Willapa Bay

Living in a maritime fishing village in Southwest Washington state on Willapa Bay

Washaway Beach ‘Hungry sea devours dreams’, Seattle Times article

Posted by pallix on October 10, 2007

Seattle Times isn’t the first and won’t be the last to publish an article about Washaway Beach at North Cove where Willapa Bay meets the Pacific ocean.  I’ve heard people who have lived here much longer than I tell me a bit about how Washaway Beach was once considered a playground for wealthy Seattlites in past decades.   In this time of global warming, climate change, the phenomenom of Washaway Beach which is literally washing into the ocean couldn’t be a more timely time for Seattle Times to write this article.

article;  ‘Hungry Sea Devours dreams’, Seattle Times  Sept 14, 2007

NORTH COVE, Pacific County — From Greg Tumidanski’s front deck, the steel-gray ribbon of the Pacific Ocean stretches beyond sight. Pelicans divebomb the surf. The wind is gentle and warm.

All this — a cabin on more than seven acres of oceanfront land — he picked up for just $45,000 two years ago.

It was a deal so good it just had to have a catch: Tumidanski expects his oasis on the sea to be gone in about three years, consumed by the omnivorous waves at Washaway Beach.

This two miles of shoreline at the northern confluence of the Pacific Ocean and Willapa Bay, 12 miles south of Westport, is believed to be the fastest-eroding beach on the Pacific Coast. It has lost about 65 feet a year to the sea since the late 1800s. More than 100 homes, including the entire town of North Cove, have already disappeared, many of them in the past 20 years.

Yet despite the very public destruction, official warnings and a decade-old building moratorium, people such as Tumidanski keep putting down good money for property here. Sixty-five parcels have changed hands in the past six years, long after it became virtually impossible to buy a homeowner’s policy.

It’s a perverse real-estate calculus: the closer to the water, the cheaper the land. Beachfront can be had for $500, but it might not survive the winter. On the other hand, property a quarter-mile inland can fetch $100,000 or more. After all, it might last as long as a couple of decades.

“You tell yourself, this property is usually for the rich,” Tumidanski said as he surveyed the view from his deck.

“This view, even for a few years, is worth it.”

Aptly named

As its name proves, Washaway Beach has not been a secret. As the northern channel of Willapa Bay carves away land so that it can empty more efficiently into the Pacific, one home after another has slid into the ocean.

Its historic name is Cape Shoalwater, and people two decades ago talked about saving it. But today, the cape is largely gone and so is any real hope of help from local, state and federal governments.

More than $24 million has been spent to protect Highway 105 nearby, and $12 million is planned to shelter the Shoalwater Bay Indian reservation just to the south. But there are no plans to protect the property at Washaway Beach.

Today, it’s an eerie graveyard of real estate. Dozens of rusting water pipes, chunks of foundation and pieces of asphalt sprout from the sand. Up the beach, some of the remaining properties look mostly abandoned, placidly waiting their turn to slide away.

Protecting what’s left would cost hundreds of millions of dollars, said Mike DeSimone, the head planner for Pacific County.

(read more at the article link )

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