In 2018, two major hurricanes, Florence and Michael, crossed over the southeastern United States. They caused considerable damages state-wide, costing over $23 billion in North Carolina alone. Storm surges, rain, and high winds negatively affected historic structures and archaeological sites.

In response, Congress approved the Emergency Supplemental Historic Preservation Fund (ESHPF) grants. The National Park Service administers these grants. North Carolina received $17 million from ESHPF. These grants help communities repair historic buildings and prepare for future storm events. Local preservation groups and state agencies are eligible for funding.

Erosion of the marshline on Town Creek in Brunswick County
Erosion of the marshline on Town Creek in Brunswick County. Visible within the mud are remains of built wooden structure, likely related to plantations that lined Town Creek. The rise in sea level has caused more water to move along the shoreline break off large sections of marsh and exposing buried structures. (Image by NC Office of State Archaeology, 2022)

The NC Office of State Archaeology received two of these ESHPF grants to support historic preservation projects. One of these projects is the North Carolina Shorescape Survey. This survey will assess storm-related threats to shoreline sites in 12 coastal counties. Archaeologists will identify important sites on land, underwater, and in the tidal zone. They will also map the shoreline, which can change after every storm event.

The results of these surveys will guide plans to protect sites during storm events. They will also foster public education and the nomination of sites to the National Register of Historic Places.

How are we documenting our shorlines and shoreline sites?

Prioritized survey areas will include the African American and American Indian experiences in coastal North Carolina. Maritime industries from the 18th century to the present will also be studied. We hope to identify and preserve sites not yet in the archaeological record!

Where are we working?

Fieldwork is currently underway thanks to our partners, AECOM, who have been surveying our shorelines since September 2023!

What have we found?


Thanks to our partners AECOM, NC State Park, NC Department of Transportation, and NC Wildlife Resources Commission for their hard work and assistance in the completion of these projects.
This material was produced with assistance from the Emergency Supplemental Historic Preservation Fund, administered by the National Park Service, Department of the Interior. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of the Interior.

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This page was last modified on 11/14/2023