03-09-2006, 02:40 PM #1
- Join Date
- Jul 2005
- Personal Quote: "When you live in the moment you are always on time"
Repost of letter on beach erosion by Dave Rauschkolb
I was asked to repost this letter regarding sand erosion during hurricanes. Hope this helps. Dave
Walton Sun 8/20/05
I have lived in Florida for 33 years and on 30A for 20. I have spent all
but one storm here and have a clear understanding of the power of these
storms. I spent Hurricanes Dennis and Ivan at Seaside at the Holl
building. Because the winds were minimal, I was able to see the power
of the wind and water and the speed with which our recent beach erosion
occurred first hand.
Approximately 35 feet of sand was "placed for protection" or scraped onto
the existing cliffs after Ivan and other smaller storms. The scraping made
the dunes look better and it made everyone feel more secure to shore up
(pun intended) the dunes. People felt that new dune line would defend and
protect us from the ravages of the sea. Sea oats were planted and everyone
breathed a sigh of relief.
At 9 a.m. on the day Dennis approached, I was watching perfect eight to 12
foot waves breaking out in the Gulf. The wind was out of the northeast and
the tide was still low enough so the waves were coming up to the edge of
the 35 feet of sand referenced above.
That morning, high tide hit around noon, which was also near the time the
seas would be peaking. By 10:30 about three feet of that protective sand
cliff was gone. All the beach walkovers, however, were still intact.
The next 55 minutes forever changed my opinion about the protective
measures of beach scraping.
By 11:05 a.m., 35 minutes later, all the sand -- all 32 feet of bulldozer
placed sand -- was gone. All of it, gone, in 35 minutes. Twenty minutes
later, all the walkovers were gone. The water then began pounding the natural,
hard packed, scrub covered dune wall. It took about three hours to take 15 feet
before the tide dropped. By 3:30, the water level had dropped and left
thick blankets of foam on everything.
I saw that no amount of sand dumped on or scraped up to the cliffs will
have any affect on protecting anything. It will just be another expensive
effort to make everyone feel better for the time being. And scraping seems to be
lowering the level of the beach; seems kind of counter intuitive doesnít it?
Any amount of money building bulkheads or sea-walls will have the same effect.
The only thing that could stop that power is a concrete wall from Panama City to Pensacola,
and we all know that wonít happen.
Last year I bought a house on Dog Island east of Apalachicola. While
shopping, I saw three or four homes on pilings out in the Gulf and a few
damaged ones hanging off the dunes (damage from Ivan). I considered buying
two homes. One was on the Gulf and priced $450,000 but it needed some
serious work. The other house was in perfect shape and priced $699,000.
Both had about 20 feet of dune but would have to be moved back, an
additional $60,000 investment. There were other houses out in the Gulf.
One was suspended high above the water on pilings about 30 feet out onto
the water with its wires and water pipes dangling down to the water.
About a week ago, I returned to Dog Island to check on my house. The homes
that had been out in the gulf were gone. Not a trace. The fixer upper 20 feet behind
the dune line I had considered buying was also gone. The other house I had considered
had crumbled down the dune on to the beach with only the steps left. This same scenario
was repeated all down the beach except for the homes that had been moved back. The house
I bought sits on a 40 foot hill, 100 feet behind the dune line, but I am certain in 30 years
or so, my house will have to be moved back away from the water.
I also saw two homes that had been protected by a 125 foot bulkhead/seawall. The tattered and
breached bulkhead was still out there poking out of the sand. All 20 or so feet of the sand that
had been between the bulkhead and the houses had washed out the sides and through holes in the wall.
One of the homes was left tilting off the dune and the other houses pilings were exposed.
An open, full septic tank was lying on its side.
Beachfront homeowners are struggling with an emotional and financial
tragedy. Commissioners and citizens are frantically searching for answers
and fixes to this on going problem. Brown sand is causing a firestorm of
controversy. Everyone wants our beautiful white beaches and dunes back.
The plain truth is that we have to begin to accept our cliffs. The white
sand always comes back covering the beach and vegetation grows on the cliffs.
Go to any state park where no restoration has been done. It is still beautiful.
different, but beautiful nonetheless.
Beachfront homeowners should seriously consider moving their homes back. I
canít imagine any commission not relaxing front setback lines to allow
this. Moving homes back it the most accepted practice on Dog Island.
The cost might not be too different from building elaborately
expensive bulkheads and dumping ton after ton of sand behind them.
Moving their home is not practical for everyone but still a possible
solution for many.
A word about walkovers: There should be one county approved design for all
public and private beach walkovers. They should be built so most of the
walkover is at least 15 feet above the beach. Pilings should go much
deeper in the sand so the water just washes under the pilings.
They should have a break away stair so only the stair would need to be
replaced and picked up after the storm. WaterColor has a retractable metal
stair that they take in if a storm hits. Expensive but effective.
Nothing will stop this natural process of erosion except perhaps dredging
sand onto the beaches as they did in Panama City. Dredging also has
negative environmental factors and the sand color is a risk, but Panama
City had little or no damage to homes with the exception of Pinnacle Port
where no dredging was done. Dredging is expensive but effective if it is
done every few years. The dune scraping may make the beaches look better
but it is a waste of time and money as far as slowing any erosion goes.
This county and its citizens have to pull together and stop using golden
water buckets and Evian water to put out a forest fire. Spending
hundreds of thousands, even millions of dollars on scraping sand that will
wash away in 30 minutes is a waste. Bulkheads and poorly designed
beach walkovers just add to the debris.
Septic tanks have to be completely outlawed or moved to the front of the properties
until sewer service is available everywhere. Little Redfish Lake just west
of the breached Gulf Trace septic tanks still has a e-coli count several times
normal levels. Both Inlet beach and Gulf trace beachfront homeowners should be
required to hook up to sewer when available.
The force of moving water is much stronger than most realize. It vaporized
the dunes in minutes. I see a lot of panic and reactionary response
but we have to agree on two things. We canít stop the water and the
dunes donít protect us from the water. The sooner we all realize that,
the sooner we can all agree and get working on the very few solutions we have.
And there really are only a few.
Also this posting title is still in the general sowal message board: Seawalls, Geo-tubes, Beach Scraping and Beach Nourishment. What is the answer?
03-11-2006, 10:24 AM #2
Re: Repost of letter on beach erosion by Dave Rauschkolb
Thanks for reposting.
Calling all Watercolor folks to read Dave's post and pass it on to everyone else. We are currently being asked to vote for another assessment to bring in sand for the 2006 season, since the ProTecTube system hasn't received permitting approval from the county.
The $1.2M of sand is a waste of money, a band aid, but it will make St. Joe look good at our expense. If it would ACTUALLY protect the dunes from further erosion this season, it would be OK, but as Dave's letter indicates, it is only window dressing. It makes folks feel like they've done something substantial, when they haven't.
As powerful as St. Joe is, and I'm not complaining about that, because I think that net net they are a force of "good" for our community, they should USE that influence to get the darn permits and get the ProTecTube system built ASAP....not pile up sand that will wash away.
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