Posted on September 27, 2023
As frequent storms – and most recently Hurricane Idalia – impact coastal areas in Florida, county leaders in the Tampa Bay area are asking the federal government for help in restoration projects.
On Anna Maria Island, county officials said there has been an alarming loss of sand all around the island and they have even lost more than 150 feet of sand in some spots. That’s why Manatee County leaders have given the nod for county staff to reach out to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for their expertise to help with the problem.
Sand dunes are usually among the first considerations when it comes to mitigation plans for beach renourishment.
“These dunes were about 4 or 5 feet thick before the storm occurred,” Charlie Hunsicker, director of natural resources for Manatee County, said.
Hunsicker said dunes are able to withstand tropical storms and low-strength hurricanes. They help protect homes, utility infrastructure and roads and buy time for evacuations.
“They keep going down and that fills the entire frame of the beach out into the dunes and back,” said Hunsicker.
Hunsicker said that after Idalia last month, it was clear that several erosion prevention plans are no longer working as designed.
Over time, storm waves have battered away sets of erosion-control groin systems built in the 1950s. More recently, county officials estimate they’ve lost almost 50,000 cubic yards worth of sand in the Coquina Beach area – which amounts to around 4,000 truckloads of sand.
Manatee County Board of Commissioners has now called on the federal government for aid to renourish the coastline along the so-designated Manatee County Shore Protection Project on Anna Maria Island. This is something business leaders welcome.
“When we think about beach renourishment, it’s not just being able to set up your beach chair on the beach and having a nice white beach to play in. We employ nearly 400 people. Each of these businesses has a large employment base as well. We want all of our employees to be able to keep working as do they,” said Chuck Wolfe with Chiles Hospitality and operator of Sandbar Restaurant.