Last updated: 03:00 PM ET, Tue October 11 2016

Hurricane Matthew Destroyed Florida Sand Dunes

Impacting Travel | Gabe Zaldivar | October 11, 2016

Hurricane Matthew Destroyed Florida Sand Dunes

PHOTO: Jacksonville Beach in 2008. (Photo courtesy Flickr/Wilson Bilkovich)

Hurricane Matthew will have a lasting effect on the southeast region, which is something many along the coast of Florida see quite vividly in the aftermath of the massive storm.

The Associated Press’ Mike Schneider reports on the startling evolution of the coastline from pre- to post-Hurricane Matthew form.

As the report notes, many of the sand dunes that helped keep back wind and sea from resorts and homes has been swept away by Matthew’s power.

What has been left isn’t exactly a necessary clean-up process but a dumping one as crucial dunes will more than likely need to be bolstered with more sand being brought in, a process locals know all too well.

Schneider writes: “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.”

The following images highlight some of the effects the storm has had on the region:

The report signals a coastline with very different characteristics, such as dunes that drop off by ten feet in Jacksonville Beach.

READ MORE: The Economic Implications of Hurricane Matthew

The AP signals a process that is hardly new for this part of the country. For example, there was already a $13.5 million sand rejuvenation project in the works before the recent hurricane touched down along the eastern coast of Florida.

Schneider also spoke with U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Jackie Keiser who offered: “The good news is a lot of people don't realize our beaches are engineered. It looks natural, but we construct the sand so it's sacrificed during hurricanes and protects roads and structures and potentially human lives.”

And so officials are right back at work, carving out a beach area that not only captivates and draws tourists but maintains and protects existing infrastructure just steps from the Atlantic Ocean.

Thankfully, Matthew hasn’t proved to be the kind of economic destructive force it very well may have been.

TravelPulse’s Patrick Clarke, on assessing the economic impact of the storm, writes: “It's too early to know for sure, but based on projections it seems Matthew will ultimately pale in comparison to two of the most costliest Atlantic hurricanes in history.”

However, the natural resources director for Brevard County, Virginia Barker, opined on the effect erosion has had on another iconic part of Florida: “This is world-famous Cocoa Beach. People come here for the sandy experience. It's tremendously important to our economy. The alternative is to allow erosion and let the sea go up and there will be no sandy beach.”

The report puts the amount of Florida coastline that is critically eroded at about half. Hurricane Matthew hardly helped matters by sweeping away more than piers and parts of standing structures. It swept away crucial sand that when built up over time can usually withstand most gales and tides.


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