COLONIAL BEACH, Va. –
Colonial Beach and other coastal towns and cities across the United States are used to dealing with flooding. Recently, a coastal surge brought high, turbulent waters to the Westmoreland County community.
“There was a strong northeast wind that combined with the regular tide cycles, creating a perfect storm of tidal surge,” said Colonial Beach Mayor Robin Schick. “If it had been a hurricane, we would have tracked it from the Caribbean, but in this instance, it was just the perfect situation of weather coming together.”
The water levels dropped and the sky was clear as a crew from Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD) got to work clearing debris from around Range Station Seven, Nov. 10. The Potomac River Test Range (PRTR) and NSWCDD-owned station is one of four that sits within the Colonial Beach city limits, according to Schick.
The crew from PRTR first went through the debris and pulled any plank lumber before going back through for driftwood and smaller debris.
“A lot of the large planks are missing dock pieces,” Schick explained. “Especially with the price of lumber these days, we’d like to reuse those pieces. The real risk of debris staying here is that another tide will come up and wash it into the river where it then becomes a hazard to boating. We have a lot of commerce along the river, including barge transport, fishing and recreational boating. When we have large debris out in the water, it’s very hazardous to hit.”
The safety and protection of commercial boats also extends to PRTR. One of the four Colonial Beach-based stations acts as the main communication hub between range testing boats and commercial traffic.
“The range station sites along the river support the testing we do. We are able to ensure that we have a clear range. Each range station is a vantage point for us,” said PRTR Site Supervisor Chris Hayden. “Cleaning up the range stations is important because those are in the eyesight of Colonial Beach residents every day. We want to keep them looking good in the community.”