HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - It looked like a sand storm brewing along parts of Highway 90 Tuesday. Mother Nature whipped up the winds and swept the sand onto the highway. At the same time, state and county crews struggled to push that sand back on the beach.
"Traditionally, March and April, you get these types of winds out of the south east that generally put a lot of sand onto the highway," said Harrison County Sand Beach Director Bobby Weaver.
Weaver estimates at least 2,000 cubic yards of sand gets blown away every year. To help keep the sand on the beach, the county is purchasing another front-end loader to remove sand that collects along the seawall.
Another anti-erosion project involves replacing 50,000 linear feet of fencing that were destroyed by hurricanes Katrina and Gustav.
"Certainly the recovery of the sand fencing, we're doing that now. We just finished two of the large tern areas. And then we're going to work on other areas," said Weaver.
By January, eight miles of the boardwalk will be finished to provide another barrier. And more greenery will be sprouting along the beach later this year. Designs are underway as part of the federally-funded Mississippi Coastal Improvement Project, to create more dune vegetation.
Weaver says all these steps are necessary to protect our shoreline and save taxpayers a lot of money. The last beach replenishment project cost about $15 million, and that included replacing lost sand, drainage pipes, and equipment ramps.
"As the sand leaves the highway, it doesn't come back to the beach. That's just a sooner time period that we have to renourish again, and that costs money. So the more efforts we put into keeping the sand on the beach, the longer the period between renourishments," said Weaver.
Some Louisiana students are also working to protect our beaches. A team from LSU is planting vegetation to capture the sand in Gulfport, Long Beach, and Pass Christian.