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Hurricane Idalia puts pressure on local leaders to implement plan to protect Florida beaches

Posted on September 18, 2023

Pressure is building among Pinellas County leaders to shore up beaches heavily eroded by Hurricane Idalia. Officials said an emergency plan is now in the works.

“It is the worst erosion that I’ve seen along this coast over the past 20-some years,” said USF professor Ping Wang. “I wouldn’t say shocked, but depressed. Depressed is maybe the proper word.”

Idalia’s damage shut down business at Caddy’s on Treasure Island for a few days.

“There was a lot of flooding. A lot of erosion and damage, property damage, throughout the streets. Then clean up after because debris, so many things, ended up in a different area than they belong,” said general manager Jessica Ford.

Professor Wang said in the last several decades, Sunset Beach has been eroding faster than research can keep up with.

“The emergency repairs we’re working on for beaches include dune construction, possibly some temporary sand structures. They’re basically like large bags filled with sand that will act as a wave break,” said Kelli Hammer Levy, the public works director of Pinellas County.

She said the plan is to get sand on Sunset Beach and Treasure Island as quickly as next week.

Officials said this plan is not intended to replace the stalled beach re-nourishment project, which gives Wang hope for our coast.

“Over the last 30 years, we were able to maintain a healthy beach for an extended period of time over a pretty large area… I hope somehow we can we can get the next nourishment figured out sooner than later,” Hammer Levy explained.


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