View Drive in Avon has been a troublesome spot during storms in recent
years. The area is susceptible to oceanside flooding, and during a
series of nor’easters that hit the region hard in the spring of 2018, a
line of staircases and walkways that originally led to the beach were
washed away, along with the dunes.
has happened before in this area, as the winter months degrade the
beach and the summertime climate restores it back into place, and Pat
Weston, President of the Greater Kinnakeet Homeowners Association, says
that they are accustomed to restoring the beach access walkways on an
the past, we tried to have all of the walkways [on Ocean View Drive]
back open for beach access by Easter, because that’s usually the first
big week for visitors, and we want to have everything in order,” she
says. “But the way the weather occurred this year, and with the loss of
the dunes, it wasn’t feasible. We couldn’t meet that date like we
always have in the past.”
due to the nor’easter-caused destruction in the area, construction
equipment and bulldozers shifted sand back into place throughout the
spring months, as homeowners and the National Park Service cleaned up
the leftover debris along the beach.
walkway staircases that used to cross the dunes were a problem during
storms, too. Broken into pieces during severe weather, chunks of the
former staircases would litter the beach, creating an area-wide hazard.
we lose at least two staircases every year due to storms of some
nature,” says Weston. “It’s been a continuing problem and expense over
the years– not even taking into account that when a walkway or stairs
are destroyed, there is the collateral damage of debris washed onto the
beach. It’s dangerous because the debris is comprised of wood and
nails, ranging in size from large sections to smaller, individual
components. Those smaller pieces washed onto the beach can become
covered by sand, and could cause an injury.”
year, after losing all but one of the seven staircases that used to
provide beach access to the Ocean View Drive shoreline, Pat Weston
decided it was time to look for a better alternative, and a long-term
solution and as opposed to a short-term repair.
She started her search online, which eventually lead her to a new form of walkway, called the Mobi-Mat.
are more or less what the name implies. These portable and mobile
walkways are thin, pliable matting, that measure 50 feet in length and
5 feet wide, and which are rolled out onto the sand.
when Weston contacted the company’s New Jersey headquarters, and was
referred to their sales rep who provided more info, she knew they had
an enticing potential solution on our hands.
one thing, they’re made in the USA,” she says. “They are also
constructed from 100% recycled materials, and [are] lightweight with a
50-foot section weighing about 68 pounds. So you can roll a section out
on the beach, and if there is a threat of a storm, we can literally
roll the [Mobi-Mat] up, store it, and then just bring it back out when
the storm is over. Best of all, there’s no debris to be left behind on
are some other unique features of the deceivingly simple looking
walkways, as well. They are non-slip, barefoot friendly, and are
resistant to UV and temperatures from -40 to +80°C. Because of the
patented design, sand can also sift through the woven fibers to keep
them relatively clear and easy to walk on. The mats almost float on top
of the sand, and simply need to be shaken out every few weeks in terms
in Kinnakeet Shores, the fact that there are few dunes, and big piles
of sand in place of the former dunes, finding a new means to access the
beach was key.
was no way we could build stairs on the sand piles this year, because
they were not established dunes - they were just sand piles,” says
Weston. “This mat system was going to be easier and more stable than
stairs, and seemed to be the most logical and economical way to go.”
Weston discovered the Mobi-Mats, she reached out to the Board, and to
the National Park Service, hoping to move forward. It was then
that she was informed that at least one had been installed already in
the Outer Banks area close to Jeannette’s Pier, albeit across a much
flatter area, and was used as the handicapped beach access from the
bathhouse in that location.
Board supported the project, and the National Park Service was behind
us, applauding our forward-thinking,” she said. “We were insistent that
we thought this was the best way to go, and I think we made believers
out of a lot of people.”
Hatteras National Seashore Superintendent David Hallac was on board
with the idea, and was happy to issue the Special Use Permit to add the
Mobi-Mats to the former public walkways. “We think they are great,” he
says. “We permitted those folks to put them in because we thought it
was worth trying, and thought it might be something that was more
sustainable and easier to manage before and after storms. My
understanding is it seems to be working fairly well.”
we permit staircases [at beach accesses], ultimately we tend to have to
clean them up after storms and dispose of them,” he adds. “We see this
as a good long term potential solution because they can be removed
before the storm and placed back after the storm blows through.”
also noted that Mobi-Mats are being used in other areas of the National
Park as well, including as a temporary walkway at the Wright Brothers
Memorial while the visitors’ center is under construction. Mobi-Mats
are also being used throughout the northern Outer Banks, in the towns
of Nags Head and Kill Devil Hills.
new Mobi-Mats in Avon were installed along the beach accesses on Ocean
View Drive during the first part of June, just in time for heavy summer
traffic. And after weeks of use, the new walkways are holding up well,
with tons of compliments rolling in.
good thing is that it’s easier now to walk over to the beach, and to
pull a fishing cart or wagon or stroller or other beach equipment
along. You don’t have to travel across stairs anymore,” says Weston.
“We have not had one single complaint, and there have been a lot of
e-mails, text messages, and phone calls from people saying how
wonderful it is.”
“Everyone has been so happy about it, and are so glad we went that route.”
Hallac echoes this sentiment, and sees potential for the Mobi-Mats to
become a trend for sensitive areas on the island that may also be prone
to losing stairs and walkways during seasonal storms.
“If things work out well, it could be a great model for other areas of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore,” he says.
so far, the new Mobi-Mats have done their job and have provided a clear
route to Ocean View Drive’s most enviable and popular attraction – the