Dewees Island’s Natural Recovery and Restoration processes after Irene

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It is amazing how much the island can change each day.  The storm brought with it a surge of saltwater that covered roads and filled “seasonal wetlands” in the swale behind the dunes in the maritime forest.  Only four days later, much of the impact has completely gone away.  Our lack of paved surfaces helps a lot with drainage.  Some of the salt effects will linger on, but it seems that our ecosystem is prepared for storm events and recovery will be swift.  Lori Sheridan Wilson posted the following to homeowners about what to expect.

Dewees fared much better than other communities along the east coast.  Irene did not bring us strong winds and rain but she did bring us a small tidal surge.  As you travel around the island you will notice wetland areas that have been dry for many years full of water. One of the important functions of wetlands is flood control. Wetlands store and decrease the velocity of excess water during storm events. Over the years wetlands along Pelican Flight have evolved to freshwater plant communities. Many of these wetlands have been inundated with saltwater as Irene passed by. You may notice freshwater tolerant plants begin to turn brown and die in these areas and be replaced by plants which can withstand higher salinity levels or evolve into more open areas. As the salinity levels decrease the freshwater tolerant plants will return.

We can even see this along Pelican flight where the puddles were– patches of grass mark higher ground, whereas the salt water killed some of the grasses that were under water.

last week
no more water in the "seasonal wetland"

 

the wrack will form the foundation for new dunes
last week, under water
this week, the water is gone, but there are places where the grass changes color

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