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Flagler County leaders assess weekend storm’s impact on the coastline

At the Jungle Hut Park, Flagler County Coastal Engineering Administrator Ansley Wren-Key says that despite the visible erosion, the dunes are still intact and they did their job at protecting property from severe weather over the weekend. (Spectrum News/Massiel Leyva)

Posted on December 20, 2023

FLAGLER COUNTY, Fla. — Officials continue to monitor the coastline following the storms this past weekend in Flagler County. On Monday, they were out doing a visual assessment to determine what damage was caused by the severe weather.

“I have been making my way down from Marineland where we just finished the project a couple of weeks ago, inspecting the dune from there all the way down,” Flagler County Coastal Engineering Administrator Ansley Wren-Key said.

She has been making several stops along the coast to check for beach erosion.

“It looks good. We had some beach erosion, but the dune is still in place,” she said. “I don’t see much erosion along the dune, which is great news. As you make your way further down, there’s some lower-lying areas that are naturally lower. So, the dunes did take more of a hit there.”

Flagler County recently built 11.4 miles of dunes in the northern part of the county, a project they just completed the last week of November. The good news is, according to county leaders, that the sacrificial dunes served their purpose and protected improved property, including homes and infrastructure.

“What we’re really looking for are any breach points where water can flow landward through the dune,” Wren-Key said. “If there are any breach points, the county will come in and fill those in with sand.”

As Wren-Key heads down the walkover to check the dunes at the Jungle Hut Park, she assesses the situation.

“The elevation of the beach is lower now and you can see all the detrital up and down the coast, which means the water level was all the way up to here,” she said. “It was probably eating away at the bottom of this dune where you see this scarp and that erodes the dune. The sand will slough off and form offshore bars, which helps protect us from wave energy.”

Wren-Key says while the erosion could make the coastline vulnerable to the next storm, she calls what happened over the weekend a win.

“I would say the dunes did their job and performed very well,” she said. “And we still have a barrier in place. So hopefully (it will) be ready for the next storm.”

She looked at the width of the dune to estimate how many more storms it will be able to take.

“If it’s 40 feet wide, it can withstand several storms until we get a more permanent beach project, like a beach nourishment project built in front of the dunes,” Wren-Key said.

The county is looking at doing a beach nourishment project in the next couple of years and officials said they have already started working on getting permits for that.

“It takes a healthy beach in front of it to protect the dune,” Wren-Key said. “And the dune really should only be eroded during really large storms, like minimal hurricanes.”

For now, Wren-Key said everyone can do their part to protect the dunes.

“Up here is the dune where the planting is,” she said. “Don’t put your chair up there or your umbrella. Make sure you sit down at the lower beach. We really need it to be a protective barrier and not have any breach points.”

The county will continue to do visual assessment to determine if any action needs to be taken to replenish areas with sand.


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