Hancock County Leaders Fight Beach Erosion

Monday's stormy weather put Hancock County's beach erosion control plan to the test. The good news is, there was little damage to the beach from the high winds, tides and heavy rain.

County leaders say re-shaping the beach will be much easier thanks to an erosion control plan. Beach crews were out bright and early Tuesday morning repairing minor storm damage all along the beach front. In one spot, mother nature pushed sand into this drainage canal and clogged it up.

"We're in the process of opening it back up now," county sand beach foreman Sammy McCardel said. "We've had some trash wash up, a few wash outs of the sand, and we'll probably start working on filling them back in tomorrow."

Eight years ago, county leaders spent $2.5 million pumping new sand on the beach. The main reason was to protect Beach Boulevard from storm damage as well as recreational purposes.

"New sand catches that we've put up recently have really done a good job of keeping the sand from blowing up on the road during these little kinds of storms," District 3 County Supervisor Lisa Cowand said. "Also the sidebar, it keeps the sand off of our new bike path."

Steel sheet piling recently installed along many areas of the seawall also protects the beach road from erosion.

"It's real helpful. It will help out a whole lot, especially when you have storms like you did yesterday where the water comes up on the road," McCardel said.

"The board has elected to overlay the beach road from stem to stern in the near future, and our county engineers are working on that right now," Cowand said. "So the more measures we put in to protect this road, the better off we'll be in the long run."

Sand beach crews say Monday's storm could not have come at a worse time. Crews spent the past three weeks readying the beach for summer tourists, and they were just about finished when the storm hit.

By Al Showers