Winter storms bury Oregon Coast homes in sand

WALDPORT, Ore. - In the Bayshore Community, homes are buried in sand.

Every year, powerful storms pile sand on top of the beachfront homes built in the 1960s.

Roads vanish. Driveways transform into dunes. Front doors disappear behind drifting sand.

Why would anyone build a home there in the first place?

"When it was built, it was absolutely flat and you could see all the way across from the bay to the ocean with no sand dunes," said Glenn Morris, Chair of the Bayshore Road District. "If this would have been platted within the last 5 years, none of these homes would exist."

Glenn said over time, sand has come and gone without apparent rhyme or reason - and that's the problem.

"We had an El Nino year, around 2000, which removed a lot of sand from the area. Subsequent to that, it's been La Nina, which deposits sand and it's been depositing it for 12 years now," said Morris.

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Oregon state planning agencies now require homeowners to put sand removed from their lots back out on the beach.

The question that many homeowners want to know is: Who is responsible for hauling it all away?

"I have posed this question to parks and recreation. If its Oregon's sand, why don't they come and get it?" said Bayshore resident Janet Golway.

Golway bought her home in 2006. "In that year, there was very little sand, and that year there was more rain in California than there was in Oregon."

Bayshore is in an unincorporated part of Lincoln County. The Bayshore Road District is responsible for paving and maintaining the roads, not clearing the sand. "Clearing the roads was never part of the charter," said Morris.

FEMA recently granted $250,000 to help with the cleanup and sand removal efforts in Bayshore, primarily after the storms in 2012. "It will pay to clean the road one time, clear the sand and place it on the beach in accordance with Oregon state parks rules and regulations," said Morris. In the next few months, with the FEMA grant, they plan to clear the roadways, put the sand on the beach and plant it and stabilize it with jute mate and stabilize it.

Still, this is not a final solution to the sand. Since this is a one time grant, the Bayshore community will have to come up with a different solution in future years. Morris said the Bayshore homeowner's association can create a dune management program, but it's ultimately in their hands. Morris says a dune management program has been successful in other communities, including Astoria and Cannon Beach.