Matthew Devastates Florida Sands
Techlife News|Techlife News #259
Matthew Devastates Florida Sands

When Christa Savva returned to the Sandy Shoes Beach Resort a day after Hurricane Matthew brushed by Melbourne Beach, Florida, she looked at the beach in front of the pink flamingo-colored hotel and noticed half the sand dunes had disappeared.

Savva guesses three-quarters of the missing dunes washed into the ocean and the remaining quarter scattered onto the resort’s beachfront property, which was undamaged by the hurricane.

“I was like, ‘Oh, my goodness!’” Savva, a property manager for the Space-Age-era hotel, said Sunday. “It’s crazy to have the dunes gone and all you see is empty space.”

The sand on Florida’s beaches is the equivalent of tourism gold, and its disappearance over time threatens the state’s No. 1 industry. While Hurricane Matthew didn’t ravage Florida’s coast as a series of storms did a dozen years ago, it collapsed dunes, washing away sand that protected buildings and roads during storms, and will likely require the spending of millions of dollars on beach restoration projects.

In Jacksonville Beach, the top of the dunes collapsed onto the lower part of the dunes, creating 10-foot high cliffs of sand, rather than the usual gentle slopes of the dunes.

Federal, state and local officials respond to beach erosion by depositing new sand in areas where it has disappeared, and the sand dunes act as barriers to infrastructure. Before these projects took off three decades ago, sea walls were often the only thing that stood between water, winds and buildings during storms.

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Techlife News #259