University of Delaware
delware environmental institute

WDDE: Rising seas in South Bethany give rise to different options


In South Bethany, the tide gauge shows seas have risen over the last 14 years, and the ramifications on property have left many with serious questions about what to do about it. The evidence for sea-level rise is gathering in this southern Delaware beach community, despite skepticism from some in surrounding Sussex County, and the question now is turning from whether it is real to what to do about it.

At least one part of the town floods up to 10 times a year when winds and tides conspire, and many people experienced flooded basements and ruined cars during Superstorm Sandy.

“I’ve been here since 2000, and in the last few years, I’ve seen water in places where I’ve never seen it before,” said Jay Headman, a retired school administrator and former town mayor. “Areas that used to be dry are now under water.”

As Delaware’s Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) holds its sea-level rise awareness week, South Bethany is among the state’s communities that are turning their attention to the problem that officials say may inundate up to 11 percent of Delaware’s land by the end of the century.