Posted on November 3, 2022
It’s been a month since Hurricane Ian ravaged Florida. The damage in central Florida has been enormous, and that, of course, includes our beaches.
Damage assessments along Volusia County’s beaches stand at $15.5 million but could yet increase.
“It’s been very challenging to get parts of the beach open,” Volusia County Beach Safety Deputy Chief Tammy Malphurs said.
Volusia County’s 47 miles of beach struggled to withstand Ian’s gusting winds and storm surge, particularly in the south end of the county. Coastal assets, including beach parks, restrooms, fencing and signage were hit. Several parks, or portions of them, are closed as pounding surf took out sea walls, sidewalks and pavers. The county has 140 beach walkovers. 90 or so were damaged or destroyed.
“Please pay attention to those barricades, and please don’t go beyond those barricades. They are there for a reason and it’s for your safety,” Malphurs said.
There are a few of the county’s 33 vehicle access ramps open. Still, many others crumbled under the ocean’s fury with concrete literally breaking apart. Making those repairs will take time. In addition, conservation poles have to be placed on the beach to re-open. But as quickly as they are put back up, they get washed out again in high tides.
The high tides aren’t letting up due to erosion with dunes washed out and sea walls torn up, there’s nothing to slow the surf. The beach is flat now so when the tides come in, they are higher than they would have been before the storm.
It’s anyone’s guess how long it will be before the beach is fully restored. But where officials can act, they are aware the coast is the county’s greatest asset.
“We’re getting a lot of calls. People wanting to know when the beach is going to be open. We are working every day to get things back open so people can access the beach but we need people to be patient,” Malphurs said.
In case you still plan to head to the beach this weekend, know that surf is building and Beach Safety will be flying the red flag due to rough waters and rip currents.