The county may begin its own beach renourishment project, without the Army Corps of Engineers.
Flagler County has come up with $12 million in funding through grants and other sources for beach restoration and might begin replenishing its battered beaches on its own, without the Army Corps of Engineers.
“Effective July 1, that will be in the budget for dune reconstruction. So that was tremendous news,” County administrator Craig Coffey told county commissioners at an April 3 County Commission meeting. “This will happen: Could happen next year, could happen the year after.” With the $12 million, Coffey said, “We’d have the money and the sources, and we’d have a project — something we never had with the Army Corps project all of these years.”
The Army Corps has long been at the center of the initiative to support and replenish the area’s dune, drafting lengthy studies and designing the project. But it has not secured the money to start construction.
There’s still some chance that the Army Corps will get federal approval for construction money to start its own project this year, Coffey said, and in that case, the county could go along with the Army Corps plan. But if the Army Corps money doesn’t come through, that $12 million will let the county move forward on its own.
The county is already going out to bid for design services for a replenishment project in the areas north of MalaCompra, Coffey said at the meeting.
Hurricane Matthew has made the long-planned beach renourishment project more complicated.
Rather than just adding sand to replenish the dune, the county will have to reconstruct areas of dune that were breached during the storm. That can’t be done just by adding sand and vegetation, Coffey said.
“We actually have to build structures that we can drive vehicles over ... for emergency rescue, for dozers, for all kinds of things that we deal with on the beach,” Coffey said.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency has told Flagler County that the agency will only partially reimburse the county for replenishing emergency dunes in front of public facilities, not for dunes along the entire stretch of coastline damaged by Hurricane Matthew.
But that FEMA money could still be used to get some “emergency sand” on the beaches quickly to support the dune in Beverly Beach and Flagler Beach, Coffey said. The county has not yet applied for that money. Flagler Beach and Beverly Beach will have to be the formal applicants, Coffey said, with Flagler County representing them as an agent through an interlocal agreement.
The county has also requested $1.1 million in reimbursement for hurricane debris removal on public streets and is trying to finish preparing an appeal of FEMA’s denial of a requested $1.1 million in debris removal expenses from private subdivisions. The county expects to get perhaps $750,000, not the full $1.1 million. The deadline for that appeal is April 7.
The county is working with local landowners in areas north of Flagler Beach that might need a seawall, Coffey said, and is also working on the wall’s design and trying to get easements for its construction.
The county has added sand at Painters Hill and Varn Park, and hopes to get state grants to add more, Coffey said.