After living so many years in the Alberta foothills, where erosion of the Rockies takes place very slowly, it was a real eye-opener to move to the Erie shore, where serious erosion is never more than one good wind storm away, and always on residents’ minds. Most homes along my particular stretch of the shore have heavy corrugated metal breakwall barriers, and a few large armor rocks. My property has a concrete block wall, and a lot of armor rocks. The story goes that decades ago, after a really bad storm, everyone got together and put in the metal retainers. However, the person who owned my property was planning on moving, and thus didn’t want to spend the extra money the metal would cost, so just put up the concrete block wall reinforced with some big rocks. It was easy to do, because at that time, there was at least 50 feet of sandy beach at the foot of the properties. I can’t imagine that, since we now have water right at our feet. What changed, I wondered?
Apparently it changed when the town of Leamington installed a marina at the foot of the main street, and completely changed the flow of water and sand. Homeowners to the immediate east of me, closer to the Point Pelee peninsula, still have a few feet of beach, but nothing like it once was. In fact, I’m told the retaining walls here were initially put up to prevent wind-driven sand and not water from overwhelming the houses during a storm! The bottom line to me is that without the metal wall I have to be extra vigilant about keeping the breakwall in good shape. The wind, waves, and even the ice are constantly shifting the rocks. There’s a fellow down the road from me who is the resident expert on breakwall maintenance. He visits the homes along the north shore regularly, occasionally adding rocks, so that we all can preserve our shoreline. I added a few more this fall, and might do another load in the spring.
The process of adding armor rocks is really impressive. The rocks are transported on a flat barge, and off-loaded by one of those big ‘dinosaur’ cranes that grinds and moans, and make my cats run and hide behind the laundry basket. There’s quite an art to the whole thing. Here are a few shots of the latest load, and a view of the shore, looking east to the Pelee Tip. You can see the difference between my wall (with the decorative parapet) the neighbor’s lower, metal wall. Still in all, we are much better off than the people who live on the far side of the Pelee peninsula. The erosion damage there is much more severe, with loss of property a constant problem that has everyone scrambling for solutions. The armor stone is well-named; it does protect. Plus it makes some amazing spray when the winds blow up!
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