A SEA WALL
“From her rough coast, which hungry Ocean gnaws with her surges—“ (Whittier)
There are lessons from the storm. One of those lessons is, that a northeast or an east wind can do us great damage. The curve of the shore inward places the city as it were in a pocket, with shores jutting out seaward above and below. A storm like this drives full into this pocket, eats away the shore, and piles the water into the beach part of the town. Water street is already washed nearly away. The breakwaters made by individuals were either torn away or overflowed, and houses that were built rods inland, with a street intervening, now stand close upon the bay. If the storm had lasted a few hours longer they would have gone down. It is only a question of time with several residences, even if there is only the ordinary sea crowding into this curve. Another such storm they cannot stand; what has been may come again. With this experience upon us, it is not wise to delay.
A sea wall of some kind is needed, from the bayou above the Headen's wharf to the arroyo below the city—perhaps further down. It is a simple necessity now to Water street, and to the buildings and lots contiguous. It may become a necessity to the whole beach part of the city. As it now stands it will be so in time.
The first thing is to feel that something must be done—that the sea must be shut out in any possible storm. This admitted, then devise the best plan. We have no stone, and Saturday night’s storm would probably undermine any stone wall whose foundation should be anywhere near the surface of the ground. Spiles placed contiguously and sunk into the earth, like the timbers of the wharves, would resist the waves better than any stone wall we can build. Let them reach six or eight feet above high tide and be supported in the rear by earth embankments, and they will make a perfect sea wall.
It has been suggested that the people would consent to a tax for this protection, it being a matter of necessity.
It is also suggested that it can be made to pay its own expense by dredging out in front of the spiles and then banking behind; a whole row of city front lots, over a hundred in number, may be made in the rear, somewhat after the manner of dyking in Holland’ these lots recovered from the water, would belong to the city, or whoever made them; and they
would pay the cost of constructing the wall and making the lots. The city might do the work and own the reclaimed lots or they might convey them in fee simple to whomsoever would undertake, with proper guarantees, to make them. This last plan would make the sea wall pay its own expenses, give us deep water on the city front, and a new tier of lots above ordinary or extraordinary high water and save the city a repetition of this week’s experience, and to-day’s condition.
The only object of this article is to call attention to the necessity of doing something. It is said men---capitalists—will undertake the work on the plan proposed—the ownership of the reclaimed lots. We hope the authorities will call for plans and suggestions and that the subject will not be suffered to go to sleep till another and more disastrous storm as the next must be, presses it upon attention.
Source: Nueces Valley, September 12, 1874, p. 2, col. 2
Research by: Msgr. Michael A. Howell
Transcription by: Geraldine D. McGloin, Nueces County Historical Commission