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Posted 6/12/2018

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By Billy Birdwell, Corporate Communications Office

He grew up running along the beach at Tybee Island, Georgia. Recently, he ran a program to rebuild the beach there.

Burton “Burt” Moore spent untold hours exploring the beach and backwaters of Tybee Island, a barrier island where the Savannah River empties into the Atlantic Ocean. Energetic kids still spend off-hours enjoying the sun, sand and surf there.

But for Moore, Tybee Island was a place to get ready for a career supervising the dredging activities he would see working the adjacent Savannah harbor shipping channel. Along with heading the program to keep the Savannah harbor open for business for the Savannah District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Moore also oversees federal programs to restore Tybee’s beaches after disaster strikes.

Tybee Island beaches suffered significant erosion from Hurricane Matthew (2016) and Hurricane Irma (2017). Restoring the beach helps protect this coastal town from future storms.

“We’re out here to protect the houses and the future of Tybee Island,” Moore said while surveying the beach renourishment in April. “We’re here to strengthen the front beach.”

Almost daily visits to the beach during his youth gives the dredging manager a unique perspective on the work to be done there. He can honestly claim that no one in the Corps of Engineers understands Tybee’s beach like he does. Nor does anyone understand the unique character of this town.

“It’s where I grew up,” Moore said. “I know the people and how they love this place – and how they want to protect it.”

The recent beach renourishment came about to replace parts of the beach eroded during Hurricane Matthew. The Savannah District received about $4.3 million to place approximately 250,000 cubic yards of high quality sand onto the beach, according to Moore.

Great Lakes Dredge and Dock won the contract to “borrow” sand from a location about a mile offshore of the beach. Moore ensured the work met contract specifications the way he does for all his dredging projects, but especially for the one at home.

“We would usually do these [renourishments] every seven years,” he said but disaster relief money allowed the Corps to conduct this work. A good thing, too, according to Moore, with hurricane season opening June 1.

In addition to protecting his hometown from future storms, Moore heads dredging actions and oversees dredging contracts for the $900 million Savannah Harbor Expansion Project. The SHEP will deepen the nation’s fourth busiest container port from 42 feet to 47 feet over the next few years. Moore has already overseen the deepening of the outer 20 miles of the shipping channel, coordinating with federal resource agencies, contract specialists, engineers and the dredging contractor. The outer harbor deepening was completed on time and under budget.

Whether dredging a harbor or repairing a beach, Moore still runs things right for the Savannah District and for his hometown.