In early May I was talking to a fisherman who from time to time fishes along our bluff. At one point in the conversation he brought up Hurricane Sandy. A day after the storm he was walking the bluff looking for birds. While walking across from Lincoln Park, he felt the entire road shake as a large trash truck drove by. His first thought was that a small earthquake had occurred.
Because the problem of the bluff along East Chop Drive is worrisome, I decided to learn something about it. I didn’t have far to go. My nephew, Dr. Weston Dripps, is an award-winning tenured professor of geology at Furman University. Three years ago he won the award for the most outstanding professor at Furman, the youngest professor to be so honored. He also has an impressive publication record in his field.
“Rick, the large trash truck you mentioned might trigger a collapse of a section of the road, the last straw, so to speak, but it is not the cause of the problem. The bluff is a semi-consolidated cliff made up of compacted material. The problem is caused by big storms that wash out the base of the cliff. The danger occurs when a weakened base can’t support the weight on top. “Bluff erosion is part of a natural process which is very difficult to reverse. The way the bluff is situated makes its base vulnerable to the wave action from big storms. As the base continues to weaken over time, sections of the bluff are in danger of collapse from added weight above. This added weight can come from heavy rains or heavy trucks.
“As a natural process, there is no easy fix. The only real solution is to shore it up from below. This is both expensive and no sure bet. The best we can hope for is to slow the process of erosion down.”
When thinking about Wes’s explanation, understanding the problem is not rocket science. It’s a little scary, though. It doesn’t sound to me that the long-term prospects for sections of East Chop Drive are very good.
On a happier note, skit night returned to the East Chop Tennis Club on Wednesday, July 24. Manager Ned Fennessy was the emcee for the event. Katama Hazelton led off singing Running in the Deep, followed by three-year-old Mila Hunzaker, who brought the house down with You Are My Sunshine. Samantha Potter played two flute solos, and Marty Wilder led us in song with her guitar. Our pro Raj Maharaj performed a funny ugly man skit, and Sue Collinson, our president, sang Me and My Shadow. Ned closed the show with a funny Scottish tale. It was obvious to the enthusiastic audience that East Chop’s “Got Talent.”
Finally, an old friend, Tammy Curme, called to say that he missed all of his old East Chop friends, and that he and his wife, Sue, had recently become proud grandparents of Emma Ann Curme. He also reported that his dad, George Curme III, is doing reasonably well at 92 at the Brando Oaks nursing facility in Roanoke, Va.