New Beach Being Built In Hancock County

After a threat to stop before it ever started, Hancock County's million dollar beach replenishment project is now underway.

Concerns about the project's impact on the Gulf Sturgeon surfaced right before the project was set to start.

The project is attracting a lot of attention. It's not every day people get a chance to watch man build a beach. The sight has residents and tourists flocking to the area.

"I'm impressed. I think it's beautiful," Gay Hoover said.

Hoover lives in North Carolina, but is visiting relatives on the coast.

"I think it's amazing that they can bring in this much sand. It seems like such a huge undertaking to do all this."

Bay St. Louis resident George Dangleman agreed.

"I'm just interested in this type of operation."

Nearly six miles of new sand is being pumped in from just West of the Bay Bridge to Dane Street in Waveland. The job will bring back what Mother Nature took away.

"The last renourishment project that was done was ten years ago and we lost a lot of beach just from normal wave activity, but then within the last three years we've had three major storm events that took out a lot of beach. We've lost, in some places, as much as 80 percent of our original beach," Hancock County Engineer Geoffrey Clemens said.

The sand is being pumped through 18 inch pipes from three different barrow pits more than 2,000 feet off shore. A dredge boat currently sits over one of the pits.

"This will at least get us back to what we lost during the storms. Once material is placed and graded and it has a change to dry out and bleach out a little bit to get rid that gray and brownish color, it will put our beaches back to looking like they were three or four years ago."

When finished, crews will have pumped more than 208,000 tons of new sand onto Hancock County 's beaches.

FEMA is footing the bill for most of the million dollar job. The county will pick up the remainder.

The project also includes replacing vegetation and sand dune fences destroyed during past storms. Clemens says those measures will help control future erosion.

The entire project is expected to be finished just in time for summer.

by Al Showers